Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Find a Good Gym and Training Program (Part 1)

Finding a good gym (my personal recommendation is to find a gym that is a member of the Fitness Revolution nation, as I find them the best when it comes to both service and results) to train at is of great importance if you are to succeed in achieving your goals. There are several things to consider before signing up. First, is the gym a CrossFit gym? If so, go somewhere else!

All kidding aside, this post will help you decide which gym is the right fit for you.

So the first thing you need to ask yourself is what you are actually looking for in a gym. Of course, you can't adequately do that unless you are honest with yourself. So, take a minute to answer these two questions.

1. Have you ever achieved, by yourself, the exact results you were looking for?
2. Do you enjoy training?

If you answered "yes" to both of these, any gym will do. I'd find a dirt cheap one that is open during the hours you want it to be open and that has the equipment you want it to have. That, or spend some money and put a gym in your house (like I have).

Things you can do with a small bedroom
The house option is great if you don't like training around other people (or like to train naked and don't live in Spain...) Otherwise, you can fork up the $10-20 a month to work out at some big box gym. Just find one that is close by and convenient.

If you didn't answer yes to both the questions I asked (and that is most people), then a commercial gym or home gym is not for you. You need accountability (social support) and a coach (to teach you how to do things the right way).

This will cost you more money, but you'll get a higher return on investment. Who cares if you pay $20 a month if you don't get results? That's called wasting your money. It's like just giving me 20 dollars because I told you to. If you aren't going to take the time to learn something in detail so you can get results, and if you don't enjoy training, you need something more complete to make up for your shortcomings.

That is why I recommend finding a personal training gym that is actually owned and operated by a fitness professional. The big box gym is there to make money, not get you results. Most fitness professionals who own their own facilities, on the other hand, care about delivering excellent training services.

However, you won't know ahead of time if someone is good or not. That's where this will help...

More than likely, you need the following things:

1. An Assessment
2. A Nutrition Program
3. Friends
4. Fun
5. Accountability
6. Education

Does the gym you are looking at offer most or all of those things? How can you tell before buying?

First, unless a gym is massively popular and there is a waiting list to join, a good gym should be offering you a free or low cost trial. If the owner isn't willing to show you value before you join, go somewhere else!

Assuming there is a trial... here is what to look for during your trial period...

Do the people there follow-up with you after your first meeting/initial assessment? Is there even a first meeting? Do you get a reminder to show up for your first training session? If you miss a session during your trial, do you get an email or phone call? Do the people who train with you care if you succeed and want you there (culture is important!)?

If the answer to most of those is "no," then find a new place to train. It's that simple. If the answer is yes, you've found your gym!

Next week, in part 2, I'll discuss picking the right training program for your goals and budget. Stay tuned.

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