Gabriel Patterson, Toronto Fitness Trainer, Shares Tips on Picking the Perfect Gym
Friday, 06 September 2019

Picking a gym isn't as easy as just showing up at the closest one, swiping your card, and starting a workout. Ideally, you have some criteria for choosing a gym; however, with all the different options available it can be difficult to make a final decision.

Here, Toronto fitness expert Gabriel Patterson shares some tips that might help you choose the best fit for you to meet your fitness goals.

Know Your Goals
If you've made the decision to get a gym membership, you likely have a fitness goal in mind. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds, maybe you want to put on some muscle, maybe you're wondering what this whole cross-fit thing is about, or maybe you're just looking for a friendly place with a nice atmosphere where you can use some equipment. Different gyms are meant for different things, and big brands often have a culture associated with the gym. Make sure it fits you and your goals or you probably won't use it.
Some gyms might be better for weight lifting, but you'll likely be around a lot of folks who resemble the Incredible Hulk. Other gyms might advertise a "no loud noises" policy and are intended to be a more casual space, but maybe you won't get the motivation you need. Knowing why you're going to the gym is essential to pick a good one.
Price It Out
Any discussion of gyms should consider the cost. However, this may encompass a lot more than just the fee to get in the door. Some gyms may charge a fee for childcare, using certain rooms or equipment, getting personalized training, or accessing classes. Other gyms may have add-ons such as massages, tanning, or other services that may cost extra.
The last thing you want to do is sign a year-long commitment, only to find that the specific fitness class you're trying to take has an additional fee. You also want to get a good idea of the cancellation policy, especially if you sign a long-term contract; some gyms might be more flexible than others, and you don't want to have a huge cancellation fee associated with canceling your membership.
Location and Hours
Obviously, a gym that's closer to your house is critical to making sure you actually go. However, finding a gym on the way to your place of work is even better, so you pass it daily. You also want to make sure it's in an easily accessible area and that there is ample parking available in case it's busy. Also, be sure to check the gym's hours to make sure it fits your schedule.
Equipment and Space
There is probably nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a workout and finding that the piece of equipment you need next is unavailable. You have to change up your workout, which throws off your groove and might mess with your motivation. If you're lifting, check to see if the gym you're considering has more than a few benches, including bench press stations, adjustable benches, flat benches, and seated benches. Several cable machines is a plus, as well as several squat racks, Smith machines, or deadlift stations. If cardio is more your thing, make sure there's enough treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes to accommodate peak hours. You also want to look for newer equipment, such as suspension trainers or rowing machines, to make sure you can do whatever workout your heart desires.
Extra Amenities
You might just be looking for a place to throw some weights around or do some cardio, but if you are looking for more than just the bare bones, make sure you get a complete list of the "extras" at your potential gym. How are the locker rooms and showers? Does the gym offer daycare? What about personal trainers? Is there a sauna? A pool? What's the variety of group fitness classes at the gym? And you may not consciously notice it, but is the gym clean? If you don't notice, it probably is!
There are so many different factors to consider when choosing a gym. Gabriel Patterson recommends visiting the gym, taking advantage of a free trial or a tour, and making sure the gym's culture feels like a good fit.  If you're comparing multiple gyms, however, keep Patterson’s tips in mind to make sure you're going to get the most bang for your buck, meet your fitness goals, and above all, keep going!
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