What do you even need a gym for? You have hills and stairs to run up, heavy rocks/tires/whatever to lift and carry, and body weight and friends to heft around. When you master those things, THEN you should consider going to some fancy gym. But fine, since you’re so hell bent on knowing, here are a few things you need to look for/watch out for in a gym scenario.
1. Look for people who look like you want to look
There’s an old saying in the weight lifting world: “It ain’t important where you start, but it matters where you finish.” And beyond body building contests, this is true even when you first set foot in the gym. Unless the place just opened, there are regulars who have been going there for a long time. And if they have built bodies of the type you want to build, you know you’ve come to the right place.
But of course, if there’s NOBODY there who looks the way you want to look, you might have stumbled on the kind of place where nobody (including the staff) is too serious about fitness. Why try to fight the local vibe?
2. The equipment is arranged neatly, cleaned regularly, and seems to work as it should
This is not just a “house keeping” detail. Nasty equipment can give you all kinds of skin rashes, and even fungal infections. And beyond that, poorly maintained equipment presents a tripping hazard, both for you, and for people who might fall on you at the wrong moment.
And if you need one more reason to look for well-maintained equipment, imagine what would happen if you went to put back the barbell you were just bench pressing… and part of its collar fell off. Convinced yet? Pass on the “amateur hour” crap.
3. It offers what you really want
If you want to take cardio kickboxing and cycling classes, go for it. If the gym you’re looking at charges more because it offers classes you have no intention of ever using, why bother?
If, on the other hand, it’s more of a “cardio” gym, and just has a few token weights sitting dustily in a corner, you might also want to take a pass. Unless cardio is your main focus, of course, in which case that might be the gym of your dreams.
Just make sure that you know what you’ll be getting with your membership, and that you’ll actually want what you get.
If you are looking to make your own gym check out our article on how to build a home gym for building muscle.