I actually joined Planet Fitness a little over a month ago. I’ve been wanting to join a gym for a while, but due to inadequate funds and job uncertainty, I’d been holding off. Planet Fitness isn’t technically my first gym. I used my university’s gym a lot; however, once I switched colleges, my main source of physical activity was ballet, which does meet the required 150 minutes of recommended weekly exercise. Even so, I feel like I can’t be much of a personal trainer if I don’t join a gym and familiarize myself with a lot of the machines and environment in general. Now Planet Fitness isn’t at the top of my list for job hunting when I begin. It’s Gold’s Gym since where I live it pays its trainers 15 bucks an hour plus commission. They also help you fill out your client roster, so you’re not 100% alone.
I chose Planet Fitness because of the massage chairs, hydrostatic massage beds, and personal training that comes courtesy with the Black Card membership. So there’s no extra cost to getting a personal trainer. You don’t get one-on-one time, but it’ll be enough for me to see how the trainers at Planet Fitness do their thing. It’s also only 20 bucks for me, and there were no fees, so it fits my budget just fine. The staff is also very friendly and helpful, there are plenty of machines to use, and you’re never waiting on one, and it’s never too crowded. However, this gym isn’t for everyone, so I’m going to present a little guideline that’ll help you when you’re choosing a gym to join.
- Location. You do want to try to choose a gym closest to you. I have two gyms in my town, but one is too expensive, and I didn’t even realize the other was still open. But Planet Fitness is about 15 minutes from where I live, so isn’t too bad.
- Hours. You do want to consider the hours, particularly if you know you may have to work out late one day. My gym is open 24 hours, and it is luckily staffed 24 hours. I went to another Planet Fitness, but that one closes too early on the weekends, especially if you consider my late work hours, so a 24-hour gym is perfect.
- Staff. A courteous, helpful staff makes all the difference. Now while there wasn’t someone able to give me a grand tour of the facility (I didn’t need it anyway considering it’s not my first gym), they do always give tours to new members and are willing to show them how to work the machinery. I actually have a co-worker who has a membership to one gym, but she hasn’t gone back because the personal trainer who was trying to sell her sessions left her high and dry when he found out she couldn’t afford his services. So she had no one to help her figure out the machines–and it was her first time in a gym too! Also, if you go to a 24-hour gym, make sure it is actually staffed 24 hours. Not all of them are. If someone gets injured, there needs to be someone on duty who knows what to do.
- Atmosphere. A relaxing atmosphere can make all the difference in your exercise experience. This can include how many people are in the gym at a given time. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to work out around too many people, a smaller gym is probably your best bet. If you’re someone who does, then go with a larger one. It can also include the type of music played, which is generally your top 40 stuff or whatever. You should also consider how noisy the atmosphere might be. The cleanliness of the gym is important as well, and there should be plenty of space for you to work out in.
- Equipment. The equipment in the gym is obviously an important factor. The equipment should be updated and well-maintained. There should also be enough to add variety in your workout, or to give you an option of substituting one piece of equipment for another piece that you feel will work better for you, like free weights instead of machines.
- Programs. I know for some people that group exercises classes are a huge deal. As far as I know, my gym doesn’t have any exercise programs besides what the personal trainer offers, but I’m not too bothered by that since I do ballet anyway. However, there are plenty of gyms that do offer group exercises classes, from aerobics to spinning to even aquatics.
- Extras. Some gyms offer free childcare, free massages, complimentary personal training, smoothies, snacks, among a myriad of other amenities. If you’re the type who wants and/or needs all of these extras, make sure the gym you’re choosing has them.
- Ethics. To me the most important part of choosing a gym is their ethics. Do they sell supplements? If so, do they make their trainers sell them? It’s outside of anyone’s scope of practice, save for a registered dietitian’s, to make supplement recommendations. This can put your health at risk, especially if you’re on a medication that a supplement could interfere with. How pushy are they as well? Are they trying to push you into signing up for personal training sessions or to sign up for an expensive gym membership package that you can’t afford? Is safety a concern at this gym? These are some questions you want to be asking yourself.