Try Before You Buy: Trying & Evaluating the Right Health Clubs

Most clubs on offer a free guest pass, so once you’ve narrowed down your options, use GymTicket to obtain a guest pass. Most clubs will confirm this with you over the phone in order to extend the invitation. Once you have your free passes in hand, time to check each option out thoroughly for a workout.

There are three basic things a facility absolutely must have in order to keep you exercising regularly:

  1. All the equipment you need
  2. Hours and location that allow you to use the facility daily
  3. An atmosphere you feel comfortable in

Use your free trials as fact-finding missions. Make sure that the gyms you investigate have these three things in place. If these basic attributes are not there, it is unlikely that you will make a habit of working out.


While some people need more equipment than others to be happy, as a basic rule, a gym should have a good set of free weights, enough cardio equipment to go around, and at least one machine for every major muscle group (biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, quadriceps, etc.). There is nothing wrong with hydraulic machines, but if you’re looking for a serious workout with serious benefits, weights are an irreplaceable asset.

Hours and Location

If a club isn’t open when you need it to be and convenient for you to visit, you will probably not use it regularly. More and more clubs are moving toward 24-hour functionality, but most clubs stay open until 11:00PM during the week, and 6:00PM or later on the weekends. As for location, the ideal location is halfway between your home and your work, so you can either get up early and exercise or go immediately after work on your way home.


The club’s atmosphere is an often-overlooked feature that is essential to getting in a routine. Are the people working out around you future bodybuilding champions, or are they
average people? Would you feel more comfortable in a single-sex gym? Is the facility’s staff warm and supportive, or do they intimidate you? When booking free trials, make sure you are experimenting with different atmospheres to see where you think you fit in.


People who work out with friends are far more likely to stick to a program than those who work out by themselves. Having a standing appointment every day and someone else to push you to work harder will provide you with the extra supportive force to keep you motivated. When you sign up for your free trial, make sure you also reserve a trial for your spouse or one or more of your friends.

Other Considerations

While the three factors listed above are important to consider right away, there are other factors that can improve your satisfaction with a gym and with your workout routine. The two main additional considerations are the facility's price, and whether you can get your friends to sign up with you.

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