What to look for in an exercise facility

When a person decides to make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, that decision is often accompanied by the decision to join a gym. Gyms can vary greatly. Some cater to specific activities, such as kick boxing or martial arts, while others are more general in scope, with weight training and cardiovascular equipment and access to personal trainers.

Regardless of which type of facility an individual is hoping to join, certain external factors go a long way to dictating whether or not joining the gym will be a success. When looking for an exercise facility, the following items should be taken into consideration before signing an agreement.

• Location: Even the most ardent of gym rats would say it helps a great deal to find a gym that's conveniently located. If the gym is too far away or getting there requires sitting in heavy traffic, then men and women are much less likely to visit the gym as they would be to visit a gym that's right down the street or easy to get to.

When looking for an exercise facility, find one that's either close to home or close to the office (preferably both if you work close to home). For those who work far away from home, the gym's location should ideally be closer to home to promote working out on weekends when you won't be anywhere near the office.

• Fellow members: Certain gyms might prove intimidating or uncomfortable because of their existing members. While the members themselves might be warm and friendly, those new to working out might be intimidated if everyone else in the building looks like a professional bodybuilder. In addition, women sometimes feel more comfortable working out at an all-female gym.

• Cost: The cost of gym membership is arguably the foremost consideration for many people when choosing a gym, especially since the economy remains largely unpredictable. When looking for an exercise facility, inquire about membership costs as well as any initiation fees you may incur or discounts you may be eligible for. Because of the struggling economy, many gyms have waived or are open to waiving sign-up or initiation costs, which can cost in the hundreds of dollars at some facilities.

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