Monday, January 12, 2009

CHECKOUT LANE: Finding A Gym That’s Fit

“Another year, another new year’s resolution to start exercising. If you choose the right gym to join this year, you might just follow through on that resolution past January. Make sure a gym has the weight training equipment you need. If you’re new, make sure they have it has an adequate amount of enough free weights. Check out the dumbbell rack and make sure it goes up to at least 100- pound dumbbells. Look at the condition of the benches, racks, dumbbells, barbells and the overall condition of the other equipment. Look for a variety of weight training machines such as Hammer Strength, Cybex and Nautilus. Cardiovascular machines: Make sure a gym has a wide variety of cardiovascular machines that should include elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, stair climbers, rowing machines and spinning bikes. Look at the current machines and see if they look new and fresh or old and used. Look for “under repair” signs on the multiple pieces of equipment. Another thing to look for is an aerobics room. This is good not only for aerobics classes, but also for jumping rope and doing long lunges. The first and foremost factor to consider is location. ‘You want to have it in your travel pattern,’ said Lloyd Gainsboro, one of the owners of Dedham Health & Athletic Complex. That means the club should be convenient to your home, your office, or an area you go to frequently. Timing is also important. Gainsboro suggests visiting a gym during the time you would go there to work out. Not only should the hours work for you, but equipment should be available during those times. It may go without saying, but check the cleanliness of the club’s locker rooms, showers and steam rooms. ‘Ask questions about how often these are checked and cleaned,’ said Gainsboro, who said that DHAC uses Purell wipes to keep surfaces and equipment immaculate. Aspects that are more intangible should be considered, as well. ‘A lot of people discount the social interaction factor,’ said Richard Synnott, executive director of the Weymouth Club. ‘Having a place where you feel comfortable and can make friends will keep you in.’ Synnott said that those who plan to take group classes or work with a personal trainer should make sure that staff have a nationally recognized certification. They should also make sure that the classes are ones they are interested in, would fit their skill level, and aren’t overcrowded. Gym rates can vary from less than $20 per month for basic facilities to $200 per month for clubs filled with amenities such as swimming pools and baby-sitting services. Synnott said the state requires a three-day cooling-off period after you sign an agreement, during which you can cancel your membership. Gainsboro said that with any contract, you should be able to leave with 30 days’ notice at any point in the contract. ‘Don’t just join because it’s cheap,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to look at what your needs are and look at what facility will fulfill those needs.’”

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