4 Things to Consider When Joining a Gym

girls are running

Last summer I quit my gym.

I loved it. Loved the classes and the childcare was great. Not only was the room clean, but they offered a variety of activities – from Zumba to art class – for the kids.

So why did I stop going? And why, just a few months ago, did I join a gym closer to home?

As a parent with two young kids, fitting in a workout can be next to impossible. Unless I get up super early – before the kids AND before dad has to leave for work – I can’t run. My girls are too young to be left alone so I can jog around the neighborhood for half an hour, and relying on others to watch my kids, even a paid babysitter, is not possible – or financially doable, honestly. If I don’t have a place to go on those days I don’t get up early, or it’s lightning outside at 5 AM, I don’t work out.

Yet gyms can be costly, and if they aren’t convenient, chances are even if you do spend more than you want on monthly dues you will not use the facility.

Here are three things you need to consider before signing a contract at your next gym. (And the reason I switched can be found under #1 and #4!)

  1. The commute. This was the NUMBER ONE reason I didn’t use the gym that was so nice and clean and that offered such great classes; the time to get there and back equaled the time I spent working out on most days. This meant a two hour chunk of my day was gone by the time I drove, ran on the treadmill or took a class, and got back home. That’s minus the shower! If the gym isn’t close, chances are you WILL NOT stick to the routine. The gym I belong to now is ten minutes versus the thirty five minutes of the other one; and that makes a huge difference.

    If it takes as long to get there and back as it does to work out, you may not use it. So figure out how long it is from your front door to their front door. Figure this out during the hours you’d most likely use the facility. If you go early, you might run into a lot more traffic, so time it then.

  2. The childcare. Ironically, I belonged to the gym I’ve switched to several years ago, when it was under different owners – and I hated the childcare room. My kids, who were quite a bit younger then and needed more attention, were basically ignored the few times we went. I got so angry that I left, but not before writing a note to the owner. 

    The gym has changed now, and the new childcare facility is very child friendly. It’s still not what the other one was, but my girls are older and I just really need a place for them to be safe and cared for when I go for a run or swim.

    If you are looking at gyms, consider the childcare room. Is it clean? Well lit? Do the workers greet you and the children when you drop them off? Are the workers on their phones? Do they offer classes or is it free play? Do they have the TV running the entire time? What are the hours (my ‘better’ gym was open all day and then half days on the weekends; this one is open select hours and closed on Saturday and Sunday completely)?

  3. The classes. If you take classes, you will want to pay close attention to the ones offered at the gym you are considering. 

    What time do they offer classes, and does that coincide with childcare? Are they hours you can really get to the gym? What classes are offered? Would they be catering to your fitness level? Who instructs the classes? Can you take a class or two without paying and joining so you can see if it would work for you? On what days are the classes you would like to take, and do you have any conflicts with them?


  4. The fees. This, of course, was one of my biggest things after childcare. How much did the gym cost per month? You need to determine if there is a difference when you utilize childcare. The gym I liked most was extremely expensive when you needed childcare, while this one is not. Also, I can take extra kids to this one if I need to for no cost, while the other gym charged ten per extra child.

    Does the gym require extra fees for joining? This can be a huge expense. The gym I liked most charged a whopping $125 enrollment fee! The one I’m at now did not. (Sometimes they DO run specials, but ask about these in advance; some only do so at the start of the year!)

    Are there extra costs for the classes they offer? Some gyms actually charge members for taking certain classes! My new gym does not.

    If you want to get out of the contract, what will you have to pay? Some gyms stipulate certain fees for breaking a contract. Speaking of, is the contract month to month or year to year? Can you do month to month, and, if so, what is the extra cost for doing that?

Do you belong to the gym? What do you think is most important when scouting out a new one?

What do you think?

4 Things to Consider When Joining a Gym

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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1 comment

  1. I have been waiting to go back to work so i could afford to go to the gym. this advice is really helpful. thank you!


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