There’s more to choosing a gym than just a low membership cost or lots of fancy equipment.

Get the answers to the following questions to find the right one for you.

First, see if there are enough cardio and strength-training options to meet both of these key health goals, suggest the experts at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Ask if the facility has both the types of equipment and the classes you like. If, for example, Pilates is at the top of your wishlist, but isn’t offered, it’s not a good match.

Gym Checklist:

  • Classes that interest you.
  • Variety of cardio equipment.
  • Variety of strength-training equipment.

Expert supervision enhances the health benefits of exercise, so make sure the staff has appropriate training as well as certification from an organization like ACSM or the American Council on Exercise. Also ask if they’ll tailor a program to your unique needs.

Better Gym Offerings:

  • Programs suited to your age group.
  • Pre-activity screening or a fitness assessment to uncover any medical conditions or risk factors.
  • A personalized or modified program that meets your needs.
  • Programs that address medical conditions like arthritis, if needed.

Practical considerations count, too. Studies show you’re more likely to go to a gym that’s convenient, either near your home or work. Check it out during the hours you’re most likely to use it to see what the wait times are for machines and how crowded classes are.

Practical Considerations:

  • Is it near home or work and easy to get to?
  • Is it clean, well maintained and well-lit?
  • Is there good heating, cooling and ventilation?

Finally, before signing up, be sure to read any contract carefully. Get an explanation of all fees and ask whether you can opt out if the gym doesn’t live up to your expectations.

More information

The American College of Sports Medicine has detailed tips on choosing and using a gym to maximize the health benefits.