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Take time to choose the best gym for you and your family, and take a copy of the following list of questions as you visit potential options. Match your answers with what you see in various gyms in your goal to find the best fitness fit:

What are my goals?

Do I want to:

_ Lose weight? _ Build muscle? _ Eat healthier? _ All of these things?

_ Lift weights? _ Participate in exercise classes? _ Do resistance training? _ All of these things

_ Get personal attention? _ Be left alone when I exercise? _ Get extra help because of physical limitations?

Can I try out the place?

_ How long is the trial? _ Do I have to pay? _ Are there limits to what I can try?

Is it convenient?

_ Is it near home? _ Near work? _ Somewhere in between? _ How many locations does this gym have and can I work out in any of them (and if so, is there an additional cost)?

Does it have what I need?

_ Cardio machines? _ Exercise machines? _ Free weights and kettle bells? _ Resistance bands? _ Mats and other group exercise equipment?

_ Locker rooms? _ Showers? _ Child care (and does it cost extra)? _ All of these?

_ Group aerobics classes? _ Spinning? _ Yoga and pilates? _ Wellness and nutrition classes? _ All of these (and do any cost extra)?

_ A swimming pool, sauna or hot tub? _ A juice bar? _ Protein shakes or other healthy foods or beverages?

_ Extra services, like message therapy or physical therapy (which always cost more)?

What is the quality of the staff

The staff:

_ How friendly and tuned into your needs and interests is the staff? _ How welcoming are the group fitness instructors?

_ Are trainers and group fitness instructors certified with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)? _ Do they have college degrees in fitness or exercise science.

The members:

_ Are they friendly? _ Too obtrusive? _ In similar shape as I am? _ In my age group? _ Doing the sort of fitness training I’m interested in?

When are they open?

_ Early morning? _ Evenings? _ Holidays and weekends?

_ Are group exercise classes scheduled at times convenient for me? _ Is enough equipment available during times I plan to work out? _ Do you have to reserve a slot for a class or schedule time to speak with a trainer?

Is it clean and well maintained?

_ Is any of the equipment broken down? _ Do you see towels and bottles of santizer? _ Are members working out on the exercise machines and weight benches wiping them down? _ Do you see evidence of a cleaning staff? _ Are the floors and bathrooms clean?

What will it cost?

_ Is there an initiation or signup fee? _ What’s included in the base price? _ Do I have to make a long-term commitment or can I pay month-to-month? _ Can I take the contract home and read it carefully before I sign it? _ If I opt out, can I get my money back?

What costs extra?:

_ Group classes? _ Personal training? _ Child care? _ Anything else?

Benefits:

_ Do you take Medicare or other health insurance benefits (and will you handle the paperwork)? _ Do you offer financial assistance?

– Scott Scanlon