Living costs are rising and if you’re thinking of joining a gym, you may be tempted by the mountain of discount offers available right now.
UK research found 39 per cent of people agreed cost of living increases had impacted negatively on their ability to be active, while 13 per cent were spending less on physical activity.
So if you’re keen to get fit but don’t have as much cash to waste, how do you ensure you are getting the best deal from a gym to help your achieve your goals?
Barrie Elvish, chief executive of AUSactive, Australia’s peak body for the exercise and physical activity sector, says the gym’s feel and equipment are among points to consider.
Here’s what you should weigh up when choosing the right gym for you.
Does thumping techno make the gym feel like a nightclub rather than a comfortable place to exercise?
How is it set up? Is it clean?
How crowded does it get and is it women-friendly?
Barrie also says you should consider how you are made to feel on walking in.
“Are you made to feel welcome and addressed as an individual, not as a potential client they are trying to sell something to straight away?” he says.
Barrie says ensure the gym is an AUSactive member, so if any complaints arise it can intervene.
Also check if your instructor or trainer is registered, as AUSactive regularly audits members to ensure they are first aid-trained and qualified to deliver the program they are offering.
Barrie says you should be trained on how to use the gym equipment so you can maximise the benefit and avoid injury.
Before starting, your trainer should also ask you about your fitness level and any health concerns, he adds.
Barrie advises thinking about what equipment and facilities you would like to use.
Some people may prefer only to use free weights, while others may prefer pin-loaded machines or cardio equipment.
Others will take advantage of group classes or facilities including swimming pools, child-minding facilities and cafes.
Barrie says it is important to consider how often you will use the gym, when and how busy it gets during those times.
Discuss with the gym how often you plan to attend and your goals, so you’re not signing up for something you won’t use.
Also ask if you can suspend your membership for health, work or travel reasons.
Barrie says finally, you should avoid any gym that doesn’t offer a free trial, which includes an introduction to the equipment.
The best fit
Consider the cost versus convenience factor.
“Don’t always go to the gym that’s closest,” Barrie says.
“I travel past four other gyms to get to my gym because it meets all my criteria.
“Convenience is important, but make sure it’s one that fits all those other criteria as well.”
Melbourne gym Fitness Energy founder and director Jane Kilkenny says you should pick a gym that best fits your lifestyle and motivations, not just your budget.
“If we choose solely on price, it diminishes the value of your commitment because it’s too easy to skip your training,” she says.
If you prefer group exercise, find a gym with the best variety of options to stay motivated, she says.
“If you struggle with motivation, maybe it’s time to convince a friend to join you or work with a trainer, which will improve your commitment to exercise.”