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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019

10 things to ask yourself before joining a gym

Thinking about signing up again aren’t you.

Image: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

IN THE NEXT couple of months you are going to be inundated with all sorts of membership offers from gyms as the season of good-will gives way to the season of good intentions.

January is the month when most gyms make their most money because they cash in on your short-term commitments by getting you to sign up to a long-term plan.

We’re all for staying in shape and keeping fit here, but ask yourself these 10 questions before handing over those bank details to the cute receptionist…

1. Are there enough (heavy) weights?

You’re going to the gym to get fit and to do this, you’ll need weights at some point. Weights are not just for bodybuilders, and all women, as well as men of course, should be lifting weights. When everyone adopts this attitude, there will be a crush for the dumbbells, so make sure they are in plentiful supply.

2. What kind of gym is it?

Okay, so there are a few types of gyms; the gym for hard-working, no bullshit types; there are gyms for semi-serious guys and girls but there’s rarely enough equipment in these, and there are the kind of gyms attached to hotels, which are more leisure centres and have more pools than they do free weights. We care not a jot which you go for but make sure you’re clear in your head what you want from your gym.

3. Is there an off-peak membership?

If you work 9am to 5pm you are like most people and will usually only be able to get to the gym before or after these hours. Some lunatics sometimes go on their lunch breaks we’re told! But if you work shift hours, or nights, meaning you’re off during the day, ask about off-peak membership. Obviously you won’t be able to go before 9am (usually) or after 5pm (usually) but this could suit you perfectly.

zumba Zumba: get those leggings on and get to the gym.

4. Are the classes free or extra?

Very often you’ll see how there are 8-10 types of classes, from Zumba, spinning and TRX to a host of others. But some classes, which might be the very classes you’re interested in, cost extra. For example, a 10-week pilates course could cost you an extra €50, on top of your monthly membership. This all adds up so be aware.

5. Is there enough space?

There’s nothing worse than a crammed gym and it’s really off-putting when you plot out a session in your head only to arrive at the gym and every corner is occupied. Floor space is what you’re after, and lots of it.

6. Is there a joining fee?

This is another little way gyms will try to make you feel like you’re getting a good deal. They’ll say something like ‘there is a €30 joining fee but that’s being waived for this month’. Don’t be fooled. You’re not special.

7. Is it close by?

Most of us will go to the gym on the way to, or on the way home from work. Hands up who loves coming home after work in November, having dinner, sitting on the couch for half an hour before having to leave the house again to go to the gym, three miles away on the bus? Not me…. Make sure the commute to the gym isn’t an arduous trek.

8. Is it open early and late?

Some of us are asked to work late or start earlier in work, particularly coming up to Christmas and holiday seasons. If your gym closes at 9pm and you only get out at 8.30pm, that’s a day training lost. A 10pm closing time is the least you should require. And for early-bird sadists like us here at,6.30am is surely not a lot to ask to open.

9. Is it well-maintained?

With so many litres of sweat being produced daily, gyms are surely among the filthiest places to be. Most are cleaned and cleaned again, but a gym that isn’t shouldn’t get your money. Period. This goes for the changing rooms, the showers, the reception and the workout itself.

10. Is there secure parking?

It’s a minor thing but looking for parking, particularly in cities, is a nightmare at the best of times. It’s stressful and if you’re caught for time, you could waste 10 minutes driving around looking for a place to leave the car. A gym within walking, or cycling distance at worst, should be what you’re after.

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About the author:

Brian Canty

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