Your gym should be a place that gets you going – if not, it’s time you start looking into other options. And there's always another place around the corner.
When you’re heading into a dirty gym with unhelpful employees who do nothing about that broken treadmill for weeks, all while hordes of new people flock to the gym hogging the equipment you want to use while paying a fraction of your membership fees, it’s obvious they’re not doing enough for regular exercisers like you.
Here’s a list of 10 warning signs to watch out for.
1) Broken equipment not getting fixed in time
Before deciding to get your membership, you had a look around the gym to see what kind of machinery and equipment they had. You didn’t join thinking you would never be able to use some of it. As soon as something breaks, the staff should take notice and take strides to get it fixed as soon as possible. Even if it isn’t a piece of equipment you usually use, or if there are other working machines, it reflects poorly on a gym if something is out of commission for more than a few days. “Nowadays, you can get parts over night and service people in a day or two,” trainer Mike Duffy says. “So if your treadmill is out for more than a week or your lat pull-down cable has been twisted around the weight stack for weeks it's time to look for a new gym.” Duffy goes on to say that this is often a sign of an apathetic gym owner or of a gym that simply cannot afford the repairs and may go under soon. Either way, it’s a sign to take your workouts elsewhere.
2) Equipment Is Chosen For “Trendiness”
Don’t get caught up in appearances while judging a gym. As mentioned before, make sure it’s clean, but you should also be able to make the distinction between what equipment is there to create a glossy exterior for casual exercisers and what equipment will actually get you in shape. “The equipment that actually gets the job done isn't always sexy,” trainer Greg Robins says. “Barbells and squat racks are the foundation of strength training. However, most gyms have maybe 4 barbells and only a single rack!” If your gym neglects machines that have proven their worth over the course of fitness history in favor of newly invented machines, tread mills pointed at flat screen TVs and juice bars, the gym may be trying to get more money by seeming cool than by trying to get you in shape.
3) There’s No Open Space
Your gym might have a ton of great equipment, but is there enough room to use it? There are plenty of machines that won’t require a huge amount of space, but you’ll also want the freedom to move without worrying about smashing into another person or machine. “A good training environment will have the space allotted to not only move weight in place but also to push it, carry it, drag it, throw it, and so on,“ Robins says. A gym cluttered with equipment is overkill – allotting space for movement should be a huge priority. A gym overbooked with members can be even worse, since you won’t want to jostle past people or feel hindered in any way as you move around. Basically, if your gym makes you feel claustrophobic, find a way out!
4) Bad Employee Attitudes
Gym employees should be welcoming and ready to help you with whatever questions or requests you may have. Even if you tend to be the kind of guy who flies solo or with just a couple friends, the staff should be friendly and take notice of who you are, how long you’ve been a member and how often you come in. Take it as a huge warning sign if employees are tentative to help you out, put off a negative vibe or just seem to sulk on the job. It’s mostly going to be you or a trainer pushing your body to get stronger, but you also deserve a bit of moral support from the staff.
5) Lack of equipment you like to use
This is a simple one to consider, hopefully before you ever agree to any sort of membership. Have a look around before you sign onto anything, and don’t let your frugal tendencies overtake you. Plenty of gyms are overpriced, but that doesn’t mean you should turn to the suspiciously cheap one as an alternative. If the person on staff trying to get you to sign up tells you the gym will expand soon and get new equipment you hope to use, ask around a bit and see if this is a promise they’ve been making for a while. If so, avoid it, or best of luck running on a rickety treadmill for the next bunch of months on your membership.