The Right Stuff (and Gym!) by Onica Sinclair

First and foremost, if you got the New Kids on the Block reference in the title, we can be friends.  Call me an 80’s baby or a 90’s bubblegum pop girl, but some of their songs are my go-to at the gym.  Speaking of gyms, how do you find the right one?  Halfway into the first month of the new year and many people are seeking the perfect place to help them stay on the resolution wagon and start it off.  Let’s take this “Step By Step” (see how I did that again, NKOTB ref) and go over what you should be looking for.  It takes both exercise and proper nutrition and supplements to create the perfect combo for a lifestyle change.  If you’re reading this and know about Performance Inspired’s amazing products, you’re on the right track.  The second part is “Hangin’ Tough” (I did it again) at the right gym!

Many people like to look at cost and location first.  Yes, cost is important, but I’d rather spend a little extra and get what I need than to go the cheaper route and miss out on better equipment, amenities, and trainers.  Right now is a great time to start looking because many gyms are in discount season right now.  You’ll also want a place near home so you don’t have an excuse for not going.  Once you have found a few that fit your expense range, now it’s time to take your tour.  Yes, I said tour.  No, not as in the NKOTB Mix Tape Tour, a tour of the gym.

It’s important to walk around and check out the equipment and cleanliness.  Depending on what you want your work out to look like will determine what you are looking for.  Many people are finally catching on to the cardio AND strength lifestyle so you should be looking for both if you want the best results and more bang for your buck.  Take a good look at the machines.  Are a lot of them out of order or require maintenance or are they in good shape?  Are there cleaning spray bottles and towels (cloth or paper) readily available to clean the machines?  There should be.  The last thing you want from your gym is leave with a cold or someone else’s sweat on your body.  You’ll want to incorporate cardio in your regimen as well so check out their cardio equipment.  Are there plenty of your machine of choice or will you have to wait (so annoying!).  When it comes to furthering our strength, do you have access to free weights and racks for lifting?  This is something you should definitely look for when incorporating strength training in your life.  After cardio or strength training, you’ll always want to stretch or roll out.  Is there a location for you to do this?  Do they provide rollers?  Stretching and rolling are key to proper recovery.

What special programs are available?  If you’re the type of person that likes group fitness classes, which are great ways to easily incorporate cardio and strength, that is something you should look for as well.  Take a look at what classes are offered to make sure they suit your desired workouts.  Is there childcare available during these times?  If you have children, look for a gym that offers childcare while you work out.  When my daughter was younger, she used to love going to the gym child play center.  Sometimes it’s free and sometimes there is a small extra fee on your membership, but trust me, it’s totally worth it.

If you want to get really serious, you’ll also want to look at their personal and group training options.  You can always try to ask if you can get one for free just to try it out.  Good gyms are generally willing to do this.  What time is training, or simply the gym in general, available?  I used to train at 5 a.m. because that’s what worked best for my schedule, but my gym bae (buddy) trains at 7 p.m. because that works best for her.  Be sure to find a gym that is accessible when you need it.  Hours of operation are key to making sure you don’t make excuses!

Finally, what amenities are offered?  My gym, Aspen Athletic Clubs, is amazing when it comes to amenities!  Their locker room is great for winter time when you have to walk in bundled up or for a quick shower after your workout or sauna time.  Yes, I said sauna time.  Aspen offers a sauna that I absolutely love.  It’s great to get in after a tough workout to loosen muscles or just to relax and meditate.  If you’re a person that goes tanning, you also may want to look into a gym that has tanning beds.  This makes going tanning very doable and convenient, especially when tanning lotion is sold in the gym like mine.  Aside from the location I work out at, Aspen also has multiple locations throughout the city and state.  This can definitely come in handy if one of the locations is closer to place of work or if you travel.  Make sure to ask if you have membership privileges at other gyms when you sign up if this is something that may be important to you.

The best fitting gym for you will be the gym that makes you less likely to make excuses for not going.  Make a list on non-negotiables and stick with it.  Take this list with you when you tour.  You’d be surprised what kind of deals can happen if the sales manager is aware of your non-negotiables.  So again, in the words of NKOTB, “Baby I Believe in You”.  You got this.  Find it.  Love it.  Stick with it.  Become addicted to it.  You’d be surprised how finding the right gym will increase your motivation and dedication.

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