Tips for Finding a Health Club: Knowing What You Need is First Step

Once you've decided that going to a health club is the right thing for you instead of having the equipment in your home, the first step is thinking about what you want to accomplish.

Haven't Exercised in This Millennium?

Rest assured there are millions in your boat. So you probably need to find a club that will give you instructions on using the machines and tips on consistent low-impact exercise.Use one of these heart rate monitors to keep track of your heart beats.

You may also want to purchase the services of a personal trainer, usually an additional cost to the membership fee, to help you set up a program that keeps you interested and on target.

Big, Small or In-Between Health Clubs

A quick search of your community will probably yield at least one national chain operation along with a local concern. The key to choosing the right health club is what feels the most comfortable to you.

Try out the alternatives in your area to find the best fit. Chains offer the benefit of being able to use another club in a different area as you travel but you usually pay for that privilege in your membership fee.

The type of facilities and the available equipment is another factor to consider. Whether you realize it or not, you probably have one machine that you believe is crucial to reaching your goal. A club can be the best one in the world but if it doesn't have that one machine, it won't work for you no matter what.

Location Critical in Health Clubs

Making exercise part of your life is all about finding a health club that is convenient for your life. Drive the same route to work and home every day? Look for a club on the way. Maybe there's one near your house. Or perhaps there's one in the same building as your employer.

Another good idea is looking for one near the other places you go regularly. Take the kids to dance or piano lessons? Look around the neighborhood for possible places to exercise your body while the kids are doing their things.

What's the Club Membership About?

On the surface that sounds like a "duh" question but the fees for different clubs can vary wildly. It's only smart to look into the fees and the contract your top prospects offer.

Some clubs offer month-to-month payment while others only allow for set "timed" memberships. The normal low end term is three months with the high end being 36 months. Most operations will offer discounts the longer you commit to being a member.

Be smart and shop around and don't sign anything unless you are comfortable with all the fine print in the contract. This is a credit agreement in most cases so read and understand it.

Included in the membership is at least one session with a certified trainer, locker room facilities, the use of the equipment and as many visits to the club as you want. Not usually included in the membership price are attractive extras like healthy food and drink (for clubs equipped with snack bars or restaurants) and extra sessions with a trainer.

Fees can range anywhere between $40 and $60 for a medium range health club with high-end clubs going between $60-$90 a month depending on your region and economy.

Free Club Workouts

All clubs will offer a free workout. Don't be afraid to take a turn around the gym to see if the layout of the aerobic room, types of machines, weight lifting area and class schedules work for you.

Swimming Easy on Joints and Muscles

If you can swim, that can be a safe way to start especially if you haven't exercised in a long time. Finding a club with a swimming pool in your area should take only a few minutes. Finding one that has indoor and outdoor access is good so you aren't tempted to stop exercising in bad weather.

Group Exercise at Health Clubs

Look closely at the schedule of classes at your top prospects before joining even if you don't plan on joining a class. If you love riding the stationary bike but there are tons of spinning classes scheduled, that may affect your ability to get a bike when you want to exercise. Ditto for swimming.

Health Club Salesmen

Know ahead of time that when you go into a health club and ask to see it, you will most likely be shown around by a salesperson. His job is to get you to join so try to tune out the pitch and concentrate on the particulars of the club. Find out if there are licensed fitness trainers available all the time or if they are by appointment only.

Another key is the hours the club is open. Some large chains offer 24-hour service while others may be open for only certain peak hours. Find the best fit for your schedule and keep in mind that can change especially if you sign a long-term contract and suddenly the hours don't work for you.