A few days ago, I received an email from the gym that I used to belong to. If you recall, I wrote earlier in the year that I joined Virgin Active at the Atrium, which is not exactly cheap (unless you’re a member via your medical aid, which I am not as my medical aid is not a part of VA’s programme) and quite a distance from my house. Even though VA is more expensive and further away than my old one, I realised that wouldn’t go back. Even if it meant spending more money. These tips on how to choose a gym, are basically the reasons why I chose my current gym.
The advice I give on how to choose a gym is not technical. I made a list of needs that the facility needed to satisfy and chose the gym that ticked most of the boxes. Here’s how to choose a gym in 5 easy steps.
Do they have good housekeeping?
With people getting sweaty all over the place, gyms can quickly get gross. From weight machines to the locker room, bacteria can spread quickly in a gym. Fortunately, I have a relatively strong immune system and do not get ill easily, but never the less. At my old gym, housekeeping barely made the list (if it was even on the list at all). It was not uncommon to stains from the previous day’s spin class under the spinning bikes (they only had one a day). And I never really saw anyone clean anything. No, wait that one time I saw a lady mopping the floors. I was a member for roughly a year and a half.
Is it close to my work or home?
My previous gym was a walk away from my house (not that I would walk, because of safety concerns). Okay obviously VA is not that close to me, but it’s okay for me.
Other important aspects with the location for me was whether the gym was in a high traffic area. I hate driving in traffic. Although Newton Park has a lot of traffic, I knew that at the times that I would be going there’d be no traffic, or it would be in the opposite direction. Other gyms that I looked at were in William Moffet and Lorraine, and I knew that I would be stuck in traffic on my way to the gym. So these were definitely not on the cards for me.
Are there classes and personal instructors?
I am someone who gets bored easily. So variety is key. The only classes offered at my previous gym was step and spin. So I got bored easily (look at me getting bored at exercise when I wasn’t even fit yet). I looked at all of the classes offered at the gyms I could find in PE. Also some of the gyms only had interesting classes during working hours. Not only housewives want to do pilates. Gyms need to cater for us working people as well. In addition, I am not always 100% sure what I am doing. Which is why I wanted a gym with certified personal trainers.
Is it in a safe location?
I’d only be able to go to the gym before or after work, and it would often be dark, particularly in the winter months. I needed to be sure that I feel relatively safe in the gym parking lot if it is dark. Is it in a high crime area? Does it have adequate outside lighting in the parking lot? Are there a lot of people moving around in the vicinity or is it an isolated area? Are there security guards? As a woman in South Africa, these are important questions. I don’t feel safe attending a gym that does not have any safety precautions, both inside and outside of the facility.
How comfortable is the environment?
When I say comfort, I mean “Do I as a woman feel comfortable in this gym”. When I fit got into fitness, I bought a lot of workout wear. My gym apparel consistent of cute tanks and sweatpants in bright pinks, corals and purples and some of my tanks even had catchy phrases. But let’s be clear, I never went to the gym and dressed up to impress anyone. I look horrendous while working out. No, really I do. I sweat so much, you’d think I threw a bucket of water over me. So wearing cute clothing was my way of feeling like a human being. These days I mostly wear black and white, but that’s mostly due to the fact that I can’t fit in my colourful clothes.
Also if I am wearing earphones, it means I am listening to my music and do not want to have a conservation with you. I need a gym where I could disappear amongst the masses and if anyone or anything made me feel uncomfortable, the gym environment should make me feel comfortable enough to approach one of the staff members for assistance.
How to choose a gym: The final decision
These were the main aspects that I looked at when I decided on a gym. I looked at a number of places and chose the one that ticked off the most boxes and for me, it was Virgin Active at the Atrium. The only aspect that it does not meet is that it is far from both my work and home, but I am willing to travel a bit further as it ticks the rest of my boxes. There are plans to open a VA at BayWest City. Once that one opens, I will be transferring my membership to it, as it would be closer to me.
This is not a sponsored post. I would share the exact same tips if I was at another gym that ticks most of my boxes. I hope this advice on how to choose a gym helps you find a place that meets all of your needs.
Are you a member of a gym? What did you take into consideration when you chose your gym?