Even if you plan on having a home gym, I still recommend getting a gym membership and doing most of your workouts there. It’s easier to get into a workout mindset and you’ll generally have fewer distractions at a gym. Not to mention, you’ll have far more equipment to choose from and exercise variation is important for continued progress.
There are so many gyms to choose from now. Which one will work best for you? Here are a few things I’d be looking for:
Location – This is the most important thing to consider. If it isn’t convenient to get to the gym, you’re less likely to go. Pick a gym that’s either close to work or close to home. Having something that’s close to home is especially nice for when you need to get a workout in on the weekend. But, be sure you go straight to the gym after work, a quick stop at home can easily turn into a missed workout.
Equipment – If there aren’t at least 3 squat/power racks, I’m walking! And no, Smith machines do not count. They get negative points. You don’t need a lot of equipment to get a great workout, but barbells, dumbbells, and a cable machine are a must. Power racks are great simply because there are so many exercise variations you can do in them. They’re even better if there is a chin-up bar attached. A lying leg curl, a back extension and benches that can incline to various angles are also items I’d like to see in a gym. Machines and cardio equipment are always nice, but not a necessity.
Foot Traffic – How busy is the gym when you’re going to need it? You’re going to want the ability to alternate between multiple pieces of equipment in the gym - his helps save time and is also great for fat loss. Most gym-goers nowadays don’t have the best gym etiquette. They lazily do a set, stay seated on the machine staring at their phone while they rest and then do another set. If you ask to “work in” while they’re resting, they take it as a personal offense or say they still have 2 more sets before they’re done only to sit there doing nothing for a solid minute before their next set. These people are terrible! I personally don’t have a problem asserting myself, but, even if it’s going to cost me more, I still prefer to workout at a facility where this isn’t an issue.
Atmosphere – “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” - Unknown. Find a gym with people who are serious about their training and goals. This may be a little intimidating at first, but you’re going to be much more motivated and focused if everyone else around you are as well. Many of the large commercial gyms have simply become social clubs, a place to meet and chat with your friends while you move a little bit. This is certainly better than meeting for happy hour, but if you want serious results, you want to find a gym with serious lifters.
That’s it really! You may not find a gym that hits all these marks, but if you can find something close, you’re one step closer to a successful fitness program and healthy lifestyle.