Buying a Gym Membership: 6 Things to Consider Before You Purchase

So you’re gonna buy yourself a gym membership?

Great! I have one too!

Having access to a dedicated place to get stronger and train can be really helpful for leveling up your life.  

So if you want a gym membership yourself, I support your decision 100%.

However, there’s a lot to consider when thinking about purchasing a gym membership…

These are great questions!

Let’s make sure you have answers to all six.

And if you’re joining a gym for strength training purposes, make sure you download our massive guide: “Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know.” Gets yours free when you sign up in the box below:

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT GYM?

As part of our Strength Training 101 series, we dedicate an entire article to picking the correct gym. Let’s recap some of it right here for you.

#1) WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? Picking a gym isn’t as easy as running to the closest one and signing up. There are a lot of things you need to take into consideration. There’s equipment to contemplate, classes offered to compare, and distance from your home to calculate.

It can be a good idea to create a list of things you are after, to make sure the gyms you research have what you need. Want such a list? You got it.

There’s also types of gyms to think about. You’ll mockingly hear big-name-chain gyms referred to as “Globo Gyms,” taken from the critically acclaimed masterpiece, Dodgeball.

You can think of Globo Gyms as your standard large franchise like 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, etc. You know, the big commercial gyms.

Oftentimes their price and location make for a convenient membership. I am a member of a Globo Gym. It’s conveniently located and fits my budget.

On the flip side would be a locally owned gym. Something where the owner hangs out and greets everyone. You’ll often find more free weights at such a gym, which is awesome, but it might come at the expense of other amenities like childcare.

These are some pros and cons to weigh.

The other thing to consider would be a CrossFit gym. More expensive, but arguably more of a community setting than you’ll get at a “Globo Gym.” Although they tend to be a little pricer.

Bringing us to…

#2) WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET? How much are you willing to spring for your membership? You might get away with as little as $10 a month. Conversely, a $400 monthly membership is not unheard of.

Although typically a gym membership will run you $30-$50.

To put the cost in context, it can be important to consider the gym’s amenities offered. Do they hold free classes like yoga? A single class can cost $10-$15, so if you plan on attending a few, this can quickly equal the price of your gym membership.

Do they offer childcare? If you need someone to watch your offspring, this alone might be worth the membership. Refer to our list above for some ideas.

#3) HOW IMPORTANT IS LOCATION?  Don’t set yourself up for failure here. If your gym is all the way across town, you may end up less likely to use it.

Consider a location on the way to or from work.

If you have to pass by the gym twice a day, you’re much more likely to stop in.

Might be worth springing more for a convenient location for your day-to-day.

As I mentioned, this entire section on “Finding the Right Gym” was taken from our Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know ebook.

It walks you through every aspect of starting a strength training practice, from equipment, specific workouts, and how to know when you should progress to lifting more weight. You can grab it for free when you join the Rebellion below!

WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE I PURCHASE MY GYM MEMBERSHIP?

So you’ve narrowed down the type of gym membership you want to purchase.

Before you pull the trigger, do the following:

Get a guest pass.

Some gyms give out free passes for a week or two, some you have to pay for (e.g. $20 for 20 days). Even if you have to pay for it, this is probably the best money you can spend.

After all, you don’t buy a car without test driving it, right?

Make sure you head to the gym at different times of day that align with when you plan on going regularly.

There’s nothing worse than finding a perfect gym, signing a big contract, and then discovering that the gym is so swamped with people after your workday that you can’t even get to the equipment you’d like to use.

During your guest visits there are lots of things to look for:

Is the equipment in good working order?

Is there enough equipment for everyone or are you fighting for a bench?

What’s the general vibe of the gym? Does it seem clean?

If you’re going before work, are there enough showers available?

Did you have to wait to use one?

It’s also never a bad idea to talk to the other members and ask them what they like and dislike about the gym. You can also read reviews online on sites like Yelp or Google, but remember that people are more likely to complain than compliment, so take all online reviews with a grain of salt.

Nervous about approaching people? Read this.

HOW DO I BUY A GYM MEMBERSHIP?

At this point, you’ve decided to pull the trigger.

Want some potential money saving tips? I got you:

Join with a friend or family member. Gyms can be sales driven, so bringing in someone else can make for an enticing offer. They likely have a quota to make, so the more the merrier. It’s worth asking every gym about a family plan.

Join in January (or keep an eye out for specials during the slow months). The start of the new year brings a fitness craze, and many gyms capitalize on this by waiving fees or offering discounts. If it’s near, it might be worth signing up during this rush.

January won’t be the only time gyms offer specials. Google “name of gym deals” and similar items to see if any recent ads show up, as well as check on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. If you just missed a deal, bring it up to them. They very well may still offer it.

If not…

Haggle. While this can be uncomfortable for some, asking for a discount won’t hurt. The worst thing they’ll tell you is “no.” The best thing that could happen is they’ll give you a free membership.[1]

While I’m joking on that last part, many people do have success with negotiating gym membership fees, especially at locally owned stores which don’t have corporate oversight.

It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Once you settle on a price, the next step is contract time.

Keep an eye out for the following in your contract:

  • An out clause, in case you move, lose your job, etc. Often you can get out of a contract if you move a certain number of miles from the club without a fee, but usually, any other item requires an “early termination fee” to get out of your contract.
  • Can you freeze your contract if you go out of town or are on vacation?
  • What happens if the club goes out of business?
  • Does the membership renew automatically?

Always get everything the salesperson promises you in writing (and remember that most of the time they are working on commission). I’d also suggest that you get a copy of the contract and take it home with you to read before you sign it.

If they won’t let you do that, that’s a bad sign.

Remember, if the sales person is overly pushy, or you don’t feel comfortable for any reason, walk away. There’s a lot of gyms out there that would be happy for your business.

Got your membership? Perfect. Now the fun starts!

HOW DO I TRAIN AT THE GYM?

If you’re worried about what to do at the gym, you’ve come to the right place.

We have an entire guide on “How to Train in a Commercial Gym,” which you should check out. If you’ve never worked out in a commercial facility, it’s a great place to start.

I personally train in such a facility and I wrote about being the only Rebel in a big box store right here. Read it for my personal tips on how to get in, take care of business, and get put.

You can also check out this article to make sure you walk into the gym with the right equipment in order. Be prepared!

Afraid you’ll make a fool of yourself the first time you try and work out with your new membership?

I’m prepared for that too!

I wrote an article “How to not be a newbie at the gym” covering this exact concern.

Jim Bathurst, our head male trainer for Nerd Fitness Coaching, also wrote a sweet article on “29 unwritten rules” for proper gym etiquette. You can check that out right here.

Both should help for the first time you step foot in the gym to train.

What’s that? You have absolutely NO idea what you’re doing in a gym and you wander around like a lost sheep without a shepherd?

You’re not alone! There’s nothing worse than feeling foolish or worrying so much about doing something wrong that you never try in the first place.

Our advice would be to consider enlisting the help of a trainer – if you can afford it – for a few sessions to help you get started.  

If you want full accountability, expert guidance, and consistent instruction, we have you covered there too.  Check out our online Coaching program that might help you too! If you’re just starting out, and have no clue where to begin, we got you covered! We can build you custom workouts, provide accountability so you can follow through and crush them, or help you change your nutrition strategy if you’re trying to lose weight. We work with busy people just like you, helping many of them step foot in the gym for the first time.

Wanna see if we are a good fit for each other? Click on the big image below to schedule a free call with our team:

WHAT IF I’M SCARED OF THE GYM?

If you’re nervous about even stepping foot inside a gym, you’re not alone.

We get tons of emails from Rebels anxious about walking in the door of their local fitness facility.

Which is understandable, because stepping foot into a commercial gym to train can be intimidating. The people there all seem to know that they’re doing, making you a potential outsider.

I’ll tell you what I tell all Rebels nervous about walking into a gym:

  1. Everybody around you is just as self-conscious as you are. Yes, that super jacked dude. Or that thin (or jacked), fit woman on the elliptical. They aren’t focused on you, because they’re too busy living inside their own head wondering if everybody is thinking about them.
  2. Everybody starts somewhere. You don’t have to be strong and fit to train in a gym. You go to the gym to get stronger, more confident, and then you’ll become fit.
  3. MOST will applaud you for trying. When I see somebody who is severely overweight at the gym, it makes me happy – they’re trying to better themselves. This is the mentality 95%+ of the people will have.
  4. MANY will be too self-focused to even notice you. These are the dudes lifting up their shirt in the mirror to check their abs, doing bicep curls in the squat rack, and/or making sure they take photos to post on Instagram to prove they did, in fact, go to the gym.
  5. A RARE few will judge. Though they’re not just judging you, I promise. They’re judging EVERYBODY around you because they can’t help but compare themselves to others. This is no different than in real life. Screw these people, haters gonna hate, Slaters gonna slate.

After explaining these points to a worried Rebel, I then bring up the idea of “20 Seconds of Courage.”

Our lives are a series of decisions.

And each individual choice really doesn’t take that long to make – less than 20 seconds. Once you make that decision, you set yourself on a course with no way off, until you make another decision.

You don’t have to be courageous for a full hour. 20 seconds will be enough to walk into a gym.

I want you to use 20 seconds of courage to enter any local fitness facility. From there, you can start thinking about actually purchasing a membership.

WHAT IF I DECIDE THE GYM ISN’T RIGHT FOR ME?

Hey, I get it. The gym can suck.

If you want to get a membership to start working out, great!

But if it’s not your bag, don’t sweat it. There are tons of other options.

You can start doing bodyweight exercises from home.

You can start doing an at-home yoga practice.

Like the outdoors? Start working out there!

There’s is nothing, written anywhere, that says the only way to get fit is in a commercial gym. And if it is written, it’s just some sales propaganda.

Do what’s best for you.

However, if you DO want to start working out in a gym, follow the tips laid out in this article:

  • Scope out some different facilities
  • Try out a guest pass or two
  • Have a workout plan prepared when you enter to train

Alright, I think that about does it for this article on buying and using a gym membership.

Did I miss anything?

Do you have any advice for someone just stepping foot in the gym?

Let me know in the comments!

-Steve,

PS: If you’re just getting started on your fitness journey, I’ll again remind you of Nerd Fitness Coaching! We can build you custom workouts, for the gym or for your home. We can also guide you through nutrition strategies if you’re trying to lose some weight. We can make a plan for your specific situation, so you can level up your life!

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All photo sources can be found right here.[2]

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