How to Choose a Gym- Large Chains Versus a Home Gym

Can you give me some pointers on choosing the right quality gym? What is reasonable to expect?

Most cities and metropolitan areas have several major gym chains with fully equipped exercise floors, saunas and changing rooms (Here in NYC we’ve got over 1000 different gyms and training centers in Manhattan alone!). Trying to choose between the number of options can be a major pain but as always, approaching the task with a plan makes things a great deal easier.

First off, what’s your budget to join a gym?

The amount you’re willing to spend will largely determine the type and scope of facility you’ll be able to use. As you’d expect, higher-end, bigger, better-equipped facilities command higher fees than smaller, more personal spaces. A major high-end chain (like Equinox here in the city) will run you roughly $200 monthly. Other large chains like Crunch or New York Sports Club, run quite a bit less, but the facilities are generally more crowded than the more expensive gyms.

Your budget considerations only limit your aesthetic sense. If you’re looking to join a gym to get into shape, virtually all gyms will have the basic equipment (i.e., heavy things to lift, a bathroom, etc.) that you require to have great workouts and get great results.

Cheaper Gym Options

A great choice for the budget conscious is to get a membership at the local college or university sports/recreation center. They are usually spotless, well-equipped, and empty (at least, the ones at Temple, Rutgers, and St. Peters were). A year’s membership will typically run you less than half of what you’d pay at a comparable commercial gym.

What are your goals? It makes no sense in plunking down $200 a month for a gym with a boxing ring and a heavy bag if you’re just looking for a place to do your squats and deadlifts. Nor does it make any sense to join a sports training facility that churns out champion athletes if you’ve no desire to ever run for a bus, much less a $50 trophy from Everlast. Keep your gym choices aligned with your goals, and don’t pay for bells and whistles you’ll never use (like a hyperbaric running chamber!).

Getting a Personal Trainer

Finally, what level of expertise are you? If you’re an inexperienced exerciser, you may be better off not joining a “gym” at all, but patronizing a smaller, one-on-one personal training facility. What you’d spend in training fees would be far less than the amount of time you’d be wasting trying to make sense of all the options available to you in a larger gym.

Home Gym and Body Weight Training

If you trend towards being curmudgeonly (like me), you may want to consider putting together your own home gym. It doesn’t require a whole lot of space or a ton of equipment.

Of course, you don’t even need to join a gym to lose fat. We detail several fat-burning workouts in Man on a Mission that don’t require any equipment except your own body weight. You can read more about it here.

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