What to expect when joining a gym

Select the right gym for you

Gyms at first glance can appear to be intimidating places, as they always seem to be populated by super-fit people relentlessly burning endless calories on cardio machines or pumping iron until they’re about to burst! In reality, though, nothing could be further from the truth. Modern gyms are full of everyday people of all shapes, sizes and ages, who are all looking to get fit and stay fit.

If you’ve previously balked at signing up to a gym because you feel intimidated about joining, then this guide to joining a gym will hopefully encourage you to think again! Our guide includes advice on:

  • Gym joining options
  • What facilities to expect at the gym
  • Equipment to look for at the gym
  • Staff, systems and additional benefits of joining a gym

Taking that first step to joining a gym

If you’ve either never set foot in a gym or are unsure about taking that first step, follow this realbuzz.com three-stage guide to help you get started:

1. Shop around for gyms. Gyms are always on the lookout for new members, so scan the local press or phone the gyms in your area and see what special deals are available. Typical offers include:

  • Free trial days.
  • Waived joining fees.
  • Cheap, trial memberships – for example, six-week summer specials.
  • ‘Pay as you go’ options.
  • Discounts for organizations or corporations.
  • Off-peak membership discounts.

2. Look around the gym. Take in a few tours and get a feel of the gyms that you target – and remember that you’re under no obligation to sign up! Ask a range of questions including:

  • What special offers are available?
  • How many people are members?
  • When are the busy times?
  • What facilities and benefits are there?

Also, check out our facilities, equipment, staff, systems, and additional benefits ‘tick lists’ below, and tick the items off as you take a tour of each gym.

3. Decide on your gym. Choose a gym that has the facilities that you’re looking for and provides a clean, helpful and friendly environment that you feel you can fit into. Then make an approach to the gym of your choice and, if possible, negotiate the best deal. Remember that you won’t usually need to commit for a full 12 months.


These days, modern gyms offer a whole host of services – not all of which you are likely to need at once, but which will cater for your every health and fitness need. To help you sift through the options, choose what you want from the following lists of essential and useful facilities, and then tick these off when you’re looking around prospective gyms to join:

Essential facilities

  • Clean and spacious changing and shower rooms.
  • Clean toilet facilities.
  • A broad range of cardiovascular equipment.
  • Plenty of resistance training equipment so that there are no queues.
  • Clean exercise mats.

Useful additional facilities

  • Exercise studio for classes.
  • Personal training.
  • On-site sports and injury therapy.
  • Swimming pool.
  • Jacuzzi/sauna/steam room.
  • Creche.
  • Juice bar/cafe/restaurant.
  • Free, adjacent parking.
  • Sports shop.
  • Tennis courts.
  • Squash courts.

Gym equipment

In terms of gym equipment, you should always make sure there will be sufficient machines to use so that you won’t be waiting for your turn, plus that all the exercise options you want are catered for, and that the equipment is in good order. Gyms will include a selection of the following exercise equipment – so tick off these items when taking a tour of each gym:

Cardiovascular equipment

  • Treadmills.
  • Rowers.
  • Stationary bikes.
  • Hand cycles.
  • Cross-trainers.
  • Versa-climbers (‘vertical stepping’-type machines).
  • Steppers.

Resistance training equipment

  • Fixed-weight machines.
  • Dumbbells.
  • Barbells and weight plates.

Additional equipment and facilities

  • Stability balls.
  • Exercise mats.
  • Space for exercises.

Gym staff

Modern gyms recognize the need for member retention and will recruit staff who care about customers. Good gym staff will always provide the following minimum standards of service to enhance your leisure and fitness experience:

  • Always fit and healthy.
  • Smartly turned out in corporate clothing.
  • Polite and courteous.
  • Recognise you by name.
  • Always answer your queries.
  • Happy to explain and demonstrate wherever necessary.
  • Knowledgeable across a wide range of exercise disciplines.

Gym induction systems

As a new or prospective member, modern gyms will carefully induct you into their facility so that you are fully prepared for your exercise sessions. Systems vary from gym to gym, but should ideally include:

  • An initial one-to-one health and fitness consultation.
  • A basic gym familiarization induction.
  • An initial exercise program.
  • Regular follow-up consultations and reviews.

Additional benefits of gym membership

In addition to the comprehensive range of facilities that gyms now offer, a great many also provide extra member benefits to enhance your enjoyment of the club. Check out which of the following are offered by the gyms that you visit:

  • Member social evenings.
  • Day trips.
  • Golfing or other sporting holidays.
  • Clubs for running, walking, and so on.
  • Themed evenings.
  • Complementary internet cafes.

Gyms for all …

From the gym owner’s point of view, everything that they do has to be geared to support membership retention – so the huge range of services that health clubs now offer means that you, the member, should benefit greatly. If you’ve been toying with the idea of getting fit at the gym, take some time out for a visit and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the benefits on offer, plus the refreshing ‘open to all’ environment. Whether you’re looking to tone up, lose a few pounds or prepare for an event, 21st century gyms are fantastic places in which to get fit, stay fit and have fun along the way!

If you are looking to join a gym, why not use our Find My Nearest facility to help you find a gym or personal trainer.

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