When I started exercising early last year I picked my gym on convenience. The bus rolls past it, to give me pangs of guilt if I don't go, it's a fifteen minute walk from home. I didn't consider any other factor.
Well nearly 12 months on and my membership is due to run out. I am starting to outgrow it. It has a very small free weights area with only dumbells, it has a good range of weight machines, which I am starting to use less and less as you lot teach me new ways of working.
It also has no classes, and I am beginning to want to do the odd class to add a bit of variety to my routine. And swimming - the pool has such restrictive opening hours that I can't swim more than three times a week, and that's with supreme organisational skills on my behalf!
Can one (some or all) of you give me a checklist or some idea of what I should be looking for in a new gym and what questions I should be asking?
Sounds like you just gave yourself a good checklist!
I'd still look for convenience and cleanliness. See if you can get a free pass for a couple of visits and go at the times when you would normally use then gym.
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I agree with Mel. Sounds like you know what to look for. Look for a gym that is easy for you to get to several times a week (both times and location). Make sure they have the activities/machines/weights/etc. that you like to do, like a pool, classes, and a larger weightlifting selection. If you know someone in your area that works out in a gym, you might ask them what they think of the gym they go to.
I joined a JJB Sports gymn in November. (Previously I'd been at a local authority gymn, and then a university one.) The best thing for me is a trainer I see every few weeks who is interested in free weights, doesn't see anything strange in a woman doing it, and who knows about physiology. It's got a pool and has classes. It's clean. I think I was lucky, though, in the trainer who happened to show me round when I was just looking. JJB was running a 12 days of Christmas promotion - 12 sessions for £12. Might have finished now, though.
 I mention JJB as I think it started in Wigan and has spread across the NW and North Wales. The chain has about 20 gymns.
 More titbits of information. A friend teaches pilates at the Holmes Place in Manchester Printworks. I gather it's the place to go if you want to be in the same classes as celebs.... Probably costs an arm and a leg, though. (It's got a stainlesss steel pool ....)
Good luck! I've had a lot more success since I moved gymns.
Last edited by silverbirch : 01-03-2006 at 02:14 PM.
Until last month, I had only one choice of gyms unless I wanted to drive more than 30 minutes. Fortunately, this gym compares favorably with what I had available when I lived in a bigger city. It has several free weight areas, lots of weight machines, 2 cable towers, a cage affair, a large aerobics classroom and 1/2 dozen each of treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals. What it doesn't have is a pool , and the ladies' locker room has been undersized since they opened. Men got a new one last year (though it took nearly 18 months!) and allegedly the women's is "under construction"
Just before Christmas the statewide chain of clubs opened a new "Express" location quite near the gym. It has only cardio machines, though, and no showers. The only reason I can see for joining (which I won't) is to get access to their "full" gyms when in another city (mostly Anchorage, which has about 10 locations, but is over an hour away).
The only pool I have access to is at the high school, and it has - necessarily - a limited public schedule and the changing room/showers are just plain nasty
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For what it's worth, I, too, used to make "convenience of location" my No. 1 priority, and that's why I joined the university gym, which couldn't be handier: it's across the street from my office. BUT I hardly ever went because it was not user-friendly for me, and it didn't offer the services I wanted -- pool, classes, both weight machines and free weights, and access to well-trained PTs.
I LOVE my new gym (the Y), which has everything I want, and keeps great hours (it opens at 5 a.m.). As a morning person, I find that early start of critical importance. I don't much like the locker room, but I've gotten accustomed to it, and there are just too many pros to balance that con. The proof is in the pudding; I joined in August, and I go several times a week. Good luck in your search.
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Excellent, thanks for all the suggestions. I love my current gym in that the staff all know me, they know where I'm coming from and where I am going to....but the best instructor now only works mornings, and they don't open early enough for me to attend before work. So that's on my checklist, being a morning person!
I cen get a discount at Holmes Place - which makes it quite expensive as opposed to frightfully expensive, Silverbirch, but I don't know if I want to hang with the celebs, they may not be able to compete with me wouldn't want to intimidate them now!!!!!
JJB is on my list, there is one nearly completed in Bury, which I plan to try out. I went and checked at my gym and I have three more months left on my membership, so that's three months to troll around the gyms and compare them all!!!!
When I first joined the gym I was so timid, I didn't care what they were offering. And I have really used my membership I have gone 5 - 6 times a week, sometimes more, if I swim in the morning and go back for gym in the evening, but I have really outgrown it.
Thanks to everyone for your helpful advice!
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