Gym Memberships: Must-Knows Before Signing Up


I recently moved back to my old Fairfield County stomping grounds and besides buying a new couch, a high-priority item was signing up for a gym membership. Now, I have admittedly been pretty spoiled. When I worked at FITNESS Magazine a few years back, I had the opportunity to test-drive some of the hottest workouts in Manhattan. And when I moved out of the city, I ran a boutique fitness studio for two years with awesome equipment and class offerings. 

But here I am, back in a saturated wellness market where it is honestly beyond challenging/intimidating to navigate through the sea of competition. Am I picky? Or do I just know what I want? I’ll let you be the judge of that…

Regardless, here’s what I look for in a gym!

  1. The Vibe: There is nothing worse than walking into a gym that is silent. No music, no positive energy, or worse—just the sound of grunting old men. Yuck! That “first impression” means a lot! Do you feel inspired to get a good sweat in? If not, walk back out that door!
  2. The Equipment: As you know, I’m all about bodyweight exercises but I have a few must-haves when it comes to a gym. Weights and foam rollers being two of them! Bonus points: StairMaster, newer treadmill models with TVs (I need me by Live! with Kelly and Ryan in the morning, people...), kettlebells and TRX. Oh, and take note of the maintenance of their machines! Count me out if there are more than 2 “Out of Order” signs…or worse: no sanitary wipes anywhere. Gross. 
  3. The Offerings: I used to give the sales schpeal to the point that I felt like I, too, was rolling my eyes but stay tuned in when you’re getting the lowdown! Many gyms offer a free sesh with a personal trainer, nutritionist, discounts off retail or even juice bar benefits. Hey, you’ll be spending the money anyway—might as well hear about the perks! Always a plus in my book: Towel service!
  4. The Location: So you’re making the commitment to work out—love it. But how’s the proximity to your daily life? Is it convenient to work or home? My rule of thumb: at most 10 minutes in the car but I get it, sometimes that’s not the most feasible. If the location is an easy addition to your agenda (A.K.A. not in Timbuktu…), total win. 
  5. The Price: Last but certainly not least is that dollar sign. Budgets and a need for a boutique studio vs. globo-gym, etc. will definitely weigh in on your wallet but at the end of the day, you often get what you pay for so be aware of that! I have found that regardless of the price point, that monthly membership or studio drop-in charge is the best accountability out there besides your own personal drive! Tip: Before you sign ANYTHING see if you can get in for a free trial or special deal like an introdoctury offer. 

So what do you look for in a gym? Any advice for me as I continue my search? 

lauren cardarelli