COVID-19 has made many of us reconsider our priorities. Those which initially seemed like burning issues wound up extinguishing themselves quickly. Those which were seemingly unimportant were all of a sudden thrusted front and center. Maybe we felt less invincible. Maybe we found a little more time. Or maybe we realized that without our health, nothing else could matter. And now, you’re on your quest to finding your new gym or fitness facility.
Whatever prompted you to look for a gym doesn’t matter. But which gym you choose is incredibly important to succeeding on your new journey.
We want more than anything to battle the health crisis this country is currently facing. And that means we need you to stick with whatever program you choose, whatever it may be. So to make sure you’re successful in doing so, we wrote some tips things to consider when finding your new gym.
We’re not going to hold back here by saying: We’ve set the bar high.
So what should you look for in your new gym? How do you know if it’s the right fit for you? What should you avoid?
YOUR GOALS AND THEIR MISSION
Your new gym should care first and foremost about YOUR goals.
When you get there, they should sit down with you one-on-one. Find out who you are, and what you want to accomplish (note- this type of meeting can also happen virtually). Before they throw you into a free workout, they should know your history and your goals.
You don’t need a facility tour right away. All gyms look the same: we get it, the barbells are over there. They also don’t need to tell you about their communities, as most gym communities are special in their own way.
At intake, the focus must be on your goals. This is a time when it’s perfectly okay for you to be selfish.
Here are questions you should be asked:
- How long have you been working out?
- Do you have any previous/current injuries or mobility issues?
- What do you want to accomplish? Why?
- Is there a deadline or set date for you to accomplish this goal?
- What do you need from a gym and its coaches?
- How can we help you succeed?
It doesn’t matter what the gym looks like, how many bikes they have, or if they have a “great atmosphere.” It’s all about you. There’s no doubt that one gym wants you just as much as the next. Make them earn your business.
And let us add- if you are not offered an appointment to talk about your goals, ask for one! If a gym shows hesitancy in doing so, or you simply can’t get one, move on.
If you don’t feel like the appropriate questions are being asked, ask them yourself.
“I want to improve my strength. How can your gym help me do this?”
“I want to lose 5 pounds by July. Is that doable? How?”
And so on.
VALUES AND VISION
Another thing to consider is a gym’s mission statement. Do those values align with yours?
Does their workout programming philosophy link up with your goals? If the gym posts their workouts on a public website, review a month’s worth of that programming. Ask your prospective coach what the gym is trying to accomplish with their workouts.
It’s going to be busy for gyms, but we don’t believe any coaching relationship should start without a conversation. We don’t believe in free trials or jumping right into classes. If you choose to do so, we would recommend you book a consultation with a coach within the first week of joining.
BARRIERS TO ENTRY
The harder it is to join a gym, the more you should want to be there.
Gyms with a barrier to entry have that barrier in place to ensure they only work with the right people. To be sure that any new relationship started with their facility will last years, not weeks.
An example: a gym has a requirement to evaluate your movement before you begin group classes. If something like this presents itself, be happy. That gym doesn’t just want your money. They want you to succeed!
Don’t be offended by barriers to entry. They are there to help you find success and protect the environment that their current members love.
If you’re offered a discount, ask why. After all, if a gym doesn’t value their own services, why should you?
Don’t look for cheap- look for excellence.
Every member of a gym should be treated as equal. New members are not more valuable than existing members.
And here’s a fact: gyms will not survive on discounted rates. If you want your new gym to survive, offer to pay the full rate.
Whatever the price is, pay it, but also demand that the gym provides the value to back-up their pricing.
Odds are, a cheap steak isn’t a good steak.
STANDARD OF SERVICE
Are you in a professional environment? You’ll know it when you are. If a sweaty coach meets you late and seems unprepared, that coach does not deserve your business.
Especially for someone new to a gym, it’s important to know the ins and outs of that particular facility. Some gyms provide you with an orientation package. Others will check up on you regularly for the first few weeks. Sometimes, gyms will even reach out if they notice you’ve missed a class. These are important gestures to ensure a great first experience.
And when it comes to coaching, never settle for anything less than the highest quality. Are you getting feedback and coaching throughout the entirety of a class, or is someone simply “cheering you on” as you work out? You’re paying for coaching, not a fan club.
Can the coach tell you why the workout will help you achieve your goals? Is the coach eager to tailor workouts to you, or do you feel as if you’re a burden because your shoulder is sore today?
The focus should be on you, even if the class has 15 people in it. You should receive regular direct interaction no matter how big the class is. Furthermore, no one should receive preferential treatment- you’re all stars of the show in the coach’s eyes. The equity in class should be palpable.
Do people seem helpful and friendly or are they distant and cold?
You should be welcomed warmly by both staff and members. In gyms where the staff make a point of smiling and welcoming people, the culture grows into an everyone-greets-everyone atmosphere. It’s self-perpetuating.
It should be easy for you to make a few friends right away. It’s understandable in these times that social distancing strains the building of relationships; however, smiles are more contagious than COVID-19, and they’re visible from 100 feet away!
If your coach uses a cell phone for any reason other than coaching or celebrating you (e.g., filming your incredible lift), there’s a problem. Nothing should be more important in that moment than the members standing before them.
Times are tough on business owners, but times are tough on you as well.
You should be patient as gym owners adapt to adhere to public-health guidelines, but you should not expect a lowered standard of service, or a grouch for that matter.
Yes, things will be different with social distancing in place, and you’ll have to adapt. But be patient and helpful. Your new coaches don’t want to be traffic cops and obsessive cleaners, but they’ll do it for your protection. Expect some confusion early in the process, but again, don’t lower your standards.
Maybe you’re considering a gym in the area that is about to reopen, after temporarily closing due to the COVID-19 crisis. It’s important to know that fitness facilities are are only allowed to reopen with strict restrictions, and if the gym does not appear to be following them, you should find a gym that will.
Gyms that ignore the restrictions put their staff and membership at-risk. But bigger than that, they put the entire industry at risk of another shutdown, and they don’t deserve your patronage.
Here’s an example from our gym.
If you have questions or concerns about procedures, your new coach must have answers.
NOW IS THE TIME
Whatever you do, don’t wait another day to start your search. It’s so easy to put your fitness in the ‘tomorrow’ category of your priority list. Then before you know it, five years have passed, and you’re wondering how the heck you wound up here.
If you’re in that circumstance now, it’s ok. Think about this: the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, but the second best time is now.
Start the quest of finding your new gym now, and see for yourself who deserves your business. Then, choose carefully.