Seven red flags to look for when joining a new gym

What you need to look out for when signing up to a new gym.

What you need to look out for when signing up to a new gym. Photo: Getty

Ever felt that rush of motivation when signing up at the gym?

You hit the gym floor with a spring in your step and well-intended exercise promises buzzing through your head.

But Dale Cronin, exercise scientist and founder of Personal Training Workshop Company, warned this is precisely when gyms pounce.

“Before you know it, you will be signed up for 12 months and, unfortunately, that motivation you felt is only a temporary emotion. It doesn’t last,” he told The New Daily.

What’s more, if you choose a gym that doesn’t suit your training specificity – that is, meet your individual equipment, program and support requirements – there’s a high chance your attendance will drop off fast, said Cronin.

In fact, when choosing a gym, there are many red flags to look out for. What’s more, joining is a major personal – and financial – commitment, so you want to get it right.

Cronin said the first thing to review is the level of your own commitment to training on regular basis.

“Sit down by yourself and clearly define what you want from the experience. Then, set some short-term goals that are completely relevant and specific to you,” he advised.

“Try to have some sort of accountability system that makes you attend – because there are going to be days when you don’t want to go, when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.”

gym red flags

You have to do your homework before signing up to a gym. Photo: Getty

To avoid the trap of choosing a gym that doesn’t suit your fitness goals, gender (if that’s important to you), personality type and training ability, do your gym due diligence first.

For example, women-only gyms such as Fernwood Fitness and Curves use equipment designed for smaller bodies and posture shapes, said Cronin.

If cycling is your passion places like Art of Cycling would be ideal, while weights training is popular at gyms like Melbourne’s The Queen of Lean for women and Sydney’s Hardcore Gym for men.

Once you have narrowed down the search, Cronin listed these red flags to look out for before signing up.

1. Bad timing

Never tour a gym at a time when you are unlikely to train. A manager might show you the ropes when things are quiet and equipment is available, but if you are most likely to train at lunchtime or after work, you need to know how busy it actually gets. “Don’t take your credit card on the tour either, that way you won’t be able to sign up on the spot,” said Cronin.

2. No free trial

If the gym you like does not offer a free trial, ask for it, said Cronin. “This is your chance to see how committed you are to the process of regularly going to a gym.” Most offer a free two-week trial to new prospects.

3. Joining fee fail

“A joining fee is money for jam,” warned Cronin. “If the gym has one, find another that doesn’t and ask your preferred venue to match, or beat, the deal.”

4. No free introductory PT sessions

Many gyms – both large franchises and boutique venues – have in-house personal trainers. The idea is the gym sells a membership that includes two or three free PT sessions, while the trainer has an opportunity to showcase how they can help you long-term.

5. Culture and comfort pitfalls

When assessing the culture of a gym, Cronin suggested avoiding places where the trainers have bad body language, the clients are not like-minded or respectful people, the equipment is faulty or the upholstery is worn, hygiene and cleanliness aren’t of the highest order or air conditioning is lacking.

6. Pesky booking processes

If the gym offers classes, make sure you understand the booking process before signing up. “Some might have a booking system, while others operate on a first-in-best-dressed basis,” said Cronin. “This can be frustrating if you make the effort to get to the gym only to find the class or equipment booked out.”

7. Poor security and safety standards

Exceptional security and safety standards are a must – and not just at 24-hour gyms, said Cronin. “There should be security at the front door, CCTV cameras and a locker to leave your possessions,” he said. “Also check if there is easy access from the car park to the front door and if this is a well-lit area.”

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