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How to Choose a Good Gym

How to find the right gym for you in terms of cost, location, cleanliness, classes and equipment.

diverse group working out at a gym

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Day 4 of Guideposts’ 14-Day Fitness Challenge! We’re sharing stories that will inspire you to eat better and get in shape so you can feel your best. Today’s challenge is to find a place to workout regularly. If you’re just joining us, check out our previous challenges here.

OK, so you’re serious about getting fit and you’ve decided to join a gym—yay for you! But, not every gym is created equal, so I thought I’d use this blog to offer some helpful tips about choosing one that will meet your needs and be an integral part of your health and fitness journey.

“Red Flag” Verbiage
Beware of language from gym personnel like, “this offer is only good today.” That’s unwarranted sales pressure, and it’s probably not even true. If you are not ready to commit to joining that day, chances are you will be able to get that today only special another day.

Also, be leery of gimmicky promotions that may let you join for a small fee but then charge you extra for classes, pools, saunas, etc. So be sure to ask what that membership fee includes.

It’s also wise to compare the membership prices of other gyms in your area. Is the gym you’re considering offering a comparable membership fee? If it’s too high, move on to another gym. (I also always use Yelp to read reviews from other gym patrons.)


Michelle and her daughter Ally at their gym.Location, Location, Location 
If the gym isn’t close to your home or your workplace, you probably won’t go as regularly, so make sure the gym you join is convenient.

Also, it’s good to visit it at the time you’ll most likely be working out each day. How busy is it? Will you have access to the machines you need? Is there a line to use the treadmills?

During the Tour
Lastly, tour the prospective gym with senses on high alert:

  • Eyes
    Look for a clean environment, a friendly staff and well-maintained equipment.

Check the benches and machines for fraying cables and stitching. Look at the cardio machines for wear and tear.

It’s also a good idea to scan the walls for instructors’ certifications through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), IDEA Health & Fitness Association, American Council on Exercise (ACE) or Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). 

If you don’t see any certifications posted, ask about the personal trainers/fitness specialists’ fitness experience.

  • Ears
    Do you hear a lot of laughter and visiting going on inside the gym? That’s a good thing. Who wants to go to a gym that is less than friendly?

Listen to the equipment that is in use—is it making strange noises, like it needs an overhaul? If it is, the equipment is probably in bad shape and in need of repair. Beware! (If the gym owners aren’t willing to take care of their equipment, they probably won’t be too attentive to you, either.)

While your ears are perked up, ask others who are working out if they are satisfied with the health club. Ask for specific examples as to why they like or dislike the gym. You can learn much from “a regular.”

  • Nose
    Does the health club smell “yucky?” If it smells like the dirty sweat socks in the bottom of your hamper, you might want to keep looking at other health clubs. Remember, you want the health club you choose to be inviting and pleasant. If it stinks, you’ll be less motivated to visit regularly.

On the other hand, do you smell a citrus aroma coming from the outskirts of the gym? Follow your nose. It might just lead you to a groovy juice bar, which is a great place to relax and socialize after a hard workout.

  • Touch
    Run your fingers over the various weight benches…is the leather cracked? Ripping? Sweaty from the last person who used it? (Eww.) Again, if the club owners aren’t maintaining their equipment, the club may be in financial trouble or under poor management.

God’s Help
God wants to be involved in every part of your life—even which gym you choose—so involve Him. Ask for God’s help in your search for the best gym for you and even your family.

James 1:5 says: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (NKJV).

So, ask for discernment.


A gym and its team of fitness professionals can be a real turbo boost on your path toward a healthy, fit body, but you must choose wisely.

So, in short: don’t fall for membership gimmicks; ask lots of questions; use your senses to help you in your decision making; and, involve God in the process. Now, let’s get fit together…a healthy, strong body awaits.

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