At the beginning of November, I made the decision to get a gym membership. This wasn’t a decision I took lightly. It’s a big commitment! Not only to my health, but also to my pocketbook.

To be more fit, to take your health into your own hands, is a daunting decision. A lot of the time, people say its not worth the price. And, it may be true. A gym membership often costs an arm and a leg, and maybe a few organs. But, it doesn’t have to be so painful, not as long as you do your research and think about your choices.

It took me a few weeks of hard work to decide which gym fit my needs. Here’s what to look for before you sign the papers:

Do your research: Don’t just consider the big guns — GoodLife, YMCA, LA Fitness. Take a look at your community centres, specialized studios, and smaller gyms in your neighbourhood. Is there a gym conveniently located near your home or your work? Convenience is a bit factor. If you need to go out of your way to get to the gym, you may not go as often as you intend. Don’t rule anything out until you’ve thoroughly researched all options. You may just be surprised at what you find.

Decide what kind of workout you want: Do you want to just use a treadmill, attend classes, or get some training? If you, like me, are just looking for somewhere to do a morning run and maybe do some weights, try looking at a cheaper gym. Places like GoodLife are great if you want to take part in group fitness classes or want personal training. If you are a yoga fiend or love kickboxing, maybe look at a few specialized studios. You don’t want to waste money on a gym if you won’t enjoy going, so make sure it works for you.

Get a tour: There is a lot about a gym you can’t tell from their website. The first, and ultimately the most important, is cleanliness. Sure, a gym may be cheap, but if the machines are gross and the lighting terrible, it can be a safety hazard. You also want to make sure there is enough space to do floor work and weights, and that the staff is knowledgeable as well.

Ask about terms: Most gyms will try to lock you in to a one-year contract, but always ask about alternatives. It is sometimes a better deal to purchase a year-long contract — the gym may waive certain fees in exchange for the commitment — but be sure you are ready for it. If you cancel before the year is up, you may be subject to cancellation fees. Also know that a gym, unless the province, city, or a non-profit runs it, must give you an option of paying your membership in monthly instalments. Make sure to ask what’s included in the membership as well, because often there are often different levels that will allow access to certain locations or classes.

Cost compare: This isn’t entirely about cost. Make sure to compare multiple factors. Is the more expensive gym worth the extra money? Will you use it enough to warrant the value? How does it fit into your budget on a monthly and a yearly basis?


Do you have a gym membership? What were your factors in your decision?



Katherine DeClerq is the editor of Women's Post. Her previous writing experience includes the Toronto Star, Maclean's Magazine, CTVNews, and BlogTO. She can often be found at a coffee shop with her MacBook computer. Despite what CP says, she is a fan of the Oxford comma.

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