Research clearly shows the health benefits of physical activity and proper nutrition. As preventable disease continues to rise in the US, it’s important that we take control of our health to live longer with a higher quality of life. A great place to do this is at a gym, but how do you know which one is best for you? Here are a few questions to consider when you are looking for a fitness facility.

1. Does the atmosphere suit me?

Each gym has a unique atmosphere. If you find one that you enjoy it is likely you will find yourself going to the gym more often. Different gyms typically attract different populations. It’s important you find like-minded people that you feel comfortable working out around and you can connect with. This will help to increase motivation and adherence to a workout program.

2. Is the equipment optimal for me?

There are hundreds of pieces of gym equipment and even more combinations of equipment potentially available within a gym. When choosing the gym that’s right for you, consider your ability to access the equipment. For example, some cardio equipment seats turn 90 degrees to allow you to easily enter the cardio piece, and then swivel back to their starting position. If you are only able to use your upper body, does that gym provide upper body strength and cardio equipment?

The variety and quality of equipment is important. Variety will allow you to perform many different exercises, so you won’t get bored doing the same exercises over and over. Quality of equipment is important because hundreds of people will be using the equipment and it is important that it stays in working order.

3. Are the group classes for you?

Many gyms include classes in their membership. Do they complement what you do outside of classes? Are they safe and optimal for you? Too often I see people workout in the gym, go to a boot camp class the next day and work out the same exact muscle groups when they should be letting them recover.

Research suggests that improving balance, agility, strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance can provide numerous benefits for active agers. If you are an older adult, you should check if your group classes include these training methods and cater to your level of fitness.

Class size is an important consideration since the number of participants will impact the class instructor’s ability to observe and coach each member.

4. How qualified are the class instructors and personal trainers?

It can be very easy to become employed as a personal trainer. Some gyms will hire trainers with weekend certifications, while others require a 4-year degree. Would you work with someone who spent a week studying online or a personal trainer who spent several years studying to receive his or her qualifications under professional guidance? Trainers who have committed to a 4 or more-year degree have dedicated tens of thousands of dollars to a craft showing they are passionate about their career choice.

These are just some things to consider when looking to join a fitness facility. At the end of the day it’s important to find a place where you like to go and know you can be successful in achieving your goals.

After all, what is more important than your health?


Dave Stewart
Director of Personal Training


  1. Dave, you made some very valid points that I would like to touch on. I am a new member to M4L and without trying to sound like an advertisement :), M4L came along at the perfect time for me. I have always been active and health conscious, however over the last year I ran into some unexpected heart issues @ 55 yrs old. The initial draw for me was the fact that the fitness center was owned and developed (very well thought out) by physicians, has state of the art equipment, is designed for/caters to adults, and does a health assessment, receiving confirmation and approval from the members personal physician(s). Is it expensive? Yes. However, I can honestly say this is the best money I have ever spent on my health, in a gym membership, in my life! My training has been spot on what I needed, including having variety, and challenging. The atmosphere in this gym is small, comfortable and inviting. The staff are educated, professional, and well trained, yet fun, friendly and approachable. And the other M4L members I have met, through the small group training classes, establishes additional social connections and friendships. The whole program encourages and motivates me to continue on my journey for better health that I never received from other gyms. Thank you!

  2. I had never really thought about what to look for when choosing a gym to join, but you do bring up a few things to think about. The equipment is definitely a factor to take into consideration as the article suggests. After all, you’d want to make sure that they provide good, quality equipment for their members to work on.

  3. I hadn’t thought about how we would be able to access the gym equipment when we go, so I appreciate that you mentioned that you need to consider it before you sign up for a gym. My wife and I are wanting to go to the gym together on the weekends, so we could train for a half-marathon that is later this June. To be sure that we could find the right gym, I will be sure to check if we could access the equipment easily.


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