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Choosing the Right Gym.

It really isn’t all that unlike choosing a car, a home, or even a spouse.

Just like your soul mate, it’s true that finding the gym you’re truly compatible with may take a bit of time. Not every first try is a perfect fit.

To make it last, you must first know the insides and outs of your gym. You must know the weight equipment, the cardio machines, the various classes, the flavor of clientele. You must know it and know it well.

Otherwise, your gym/patron relationship could be quickly heading for the rocks.

First off, you must determine your own fitness goals. Are you aiming high? Are you aiming low? Are you merely trying to remain healthy? Do you want to build? Do you want to tone? Do you just want to lose weight? Or do you just need a place to hang out and talk to chicks?

Whatever the case, not every fitness facility on every street corner is going to adhere to the needs of every particular patron.

For example, if you’re a middle-aged woman looking to trim the excess body fat, the hard-core testosterone of a Powerhouse Gym may not be your cup of tea.

On the flip side, if you’re ready to take the bodybuilding circuit – and next year’s Arnold Classic - by storm, then the lighter, more subdued Bally’s Fitness may not help you find the beef you’ve been searching for.

After you’ve determined what your fitness goals ultimately entail, there are various factors you should weigh before slapping down the plastic at the front counter.

Forget what you’ve heard about that downtown gym through word of mouth. At almost every gym you’ll enter for the first time, an employee will offer you a tour of the facility. Take them up on it. There’s no better way to assess the health club than to see it for yourself.

Here are a couple of factors to consider when joining your gym.

THE CLIENTELE: You don’t want to be that sore thumb, sticking out in the gym. Once again, find the gym that best adheres to you. Almost everybody who waltzes into a public gym is people-conscious. Often times, new gym-goers who suffer from insecurities of being in a new environment prefer a quieter, more subtle crowd. Gyms that are packed from wall to wall with muscle blasters may be a bit too much and could ultimately force them out the door – for good.

Meanwhile, there are many trainers who crave the competitive gatherings and need the constant scrutiny of fellow trainers in order to propel them toward their goals.

It all depends on you. But if there’s anything that determines the characteristics of the gym, it’s certainly the characters themselves.

EQUIPMENT: After all, this is why you’re really here, isn’t it? If you were just doing sit-ups, you’d do them in your own living room. Right?

The equipment that your gym carries –both the quantity and the quality – is a lot like your car. It takes you where you want to go in your fitness journey.

While hard core bodybuilders generally prefer to ride their success through free weights, many of the toning crowd will gravitate to the Nautilus-type machines. There are many trainers who crave specific machines, like cable apparatuses or Smith machines. Check out the availability of this equipment before committing to the gym.

INTANGIBLES: Hours are a big key. Some gyms close at 8 o’clock on the weekdays. Others stay open until midnight, even beyond. For you night owls, that could be an ideal situation.

And there are numerous other intangibles that figure into your health club requirements. Elements like cleanliness, heating, and even lighting can often make or break your opinions of a facility.

But, of course, nothing determines a gym sale more than the almighty buck. Affordability will always take top priority.

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