According to a recent tally by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), there are 29,636 health clubs in the United States with more than 41 million members. Are you one of them, or thinking about it? Joining a health club that fits your needs can be a great way to lose weight and get in shape.
Benefits of Health Club Membership
With close to 30,000 health clubs in America, there is probably one that’s just right for you. Some benefits of gym membership include:
- Equipment. Most health clubs have a variety of equipment including treadmills, weight-training machines, elliptical trainers, cycling machines, and free weights.
- Staff. Your health club should have staff members who are trained and certified to instruct you and design an exercise plan around your needs and abilities.
- Classes. Many health clubs provide group fitness classes and may include exercise disciplines such as, yoga, and aerobics. Joining a class can increase your motivation and add variety to your workout.
- Socializing. For many people, joining a health club is an opportunity to make new friends. Sharing the health club experience can make it fun and more likely that you’ll go on a regular basis.
- Investing in your health. You can feel good about investing in your future. If you stick to it, you will feel better. And, let’s face it, having made a financial investment is a good motivator in itself!
Tips for Picking the Right Health Club
There are many different types of health clubs; some are either general in focus while others cater to specific fitness interests. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Location, location, location. Convenience is important. A health club that takes too long to get to provides an easy excuse for not showing up.
- Confirm availability. Make sure that the equipment you want to use or the classes you want to take are available when you can get there.
- Screen the professionals. Your health club staff should be professionally certified. Ask the management about staff certification and ask members how helpful the staff is.
- Insist on quality. Make sure the equipment is state-of-the-art and serviced frequently. Is the health club neat, spacious, and clean? Check out the bathrooms and showers.
- Find out who goes there. Will you fit in with the other members? If you’re interested in Pilates, yoga, and swimming, for example, you probably don’t want to join a gym where the members are mostly into body building. Also, some women may prefer to exercise only with other women, and some people with health conditions may want to find clubs with instructors trained to address their special needs.
- Evaluate the extras. If a pool and racquet sports are important, include them on your checklist. If you have children, ask about babysitting. Some health clubs have dieticians and message therapists on staff for a total experience.
- Consider the cost. The most common complaint about health clubs involves automatic billing after membership cancellation. Ask about billing options and cancellation policies. Make sure you know what your membership fee includes, the gym’s cancellation policy, and what costs extra. Some popular classes like Pilates or yoga may carry an additional charge.
If you think you’ve found a health club that might be right for you, try it out before you sign up for a membership. After you’ve taken the health club tour, ask for a free pass or a trial membership. Show up at a time when you would be most likely to use the health club. Is it crowded? Is the music too loud? Were you able to find a place to park? The most popular exercise machine is the treadmill; see if people are waiting in line to use it. This is a good time to talk to members. Ask them if they have any complaints about the health club.
A good resource for finding out about health clubs and staff certification is IHRSA. You can also check with your local Better Business Bureau or State Attorney General’s Office. Once you’ve done your homework and find the right health club, make good use of it: You will have made a sound investment in your health and your future.