If you recently moved to a new area, decided to get back into exercising, or whatever your reason may be - choosing a gym can be a lot more complicated than it sounds. The main reason is the commitment that most gym's require. Whether the gym requires an initial sign up fee or they offer a month-to-month rate, ultimately you will be making an investment of some kind.
To begin your decision making process, think about the following 3 key factors:
1. Club Amenities
Are you signing up to take group exercise classes? Do you want to be able to swim? Does it matter to you if the gym has fancy locker rooms or would you be okay with bringing your own lock? Does cleanliness weigh heavily on you? Some clubs offer programs & services like training clubs (at an additional cost), but nonetheless, another thing to consider. Before you go to a gym, make a list of several things you are looking for in terms of what the gym has to offer. Your list should contain essential requirements that fit YOUR needs and some things you would consider less important.
How long does it take you to get there? Is there parking available? All of these things are important to consider because you have to imagine your willingness to go to the gym if it's difficult to get to. Obviously, the more conveniently located, the more you will go and be able to take full advantage of your membership.
This can be sort of tricky because you have to find a balance between what you can afford, what you're looking for in a gym, and what you would be willing to settle with. In an ideal world, it would be great to have a membership at a gym with the most up-to-date machines and more classes, but realistically, think of what YOUR reason is for going to the gym.
Everybody rates these factors depending on your situation, but they are all things that should be considered.
Most gyms will offer you a trial membership. I've had some for just 1 day and others that lasted up to 2 weeks. It's important to take advantage of these offers before making a decision. After all, you wouldn't buy a car without test driving it first. (If the person you are talking to at the gym doesn't offer it, be sure to ask.)
SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: Gyms are ALWAYS offering promotions for signing up "today." The purpose of these promotions is to make you feel pressured into making an on-the-spot decision to sign up. If you don't sign up today, you'll have to pay full price and nobody wants to miss out on a great deal, right? Have no fear - if you return the next day after the mentioned promotion is being offered, there will be a new promotion to encourage your commitment.
Good luck and the most important thing to remember is to consider your options - there's a perfect gym out there for everybody!