What makes a fitness facility a place in which you have a safe, effective, fun exercise experience and also feel cared for?

A combination of the staff, the programs, the members and physical environment work together to compose your ideal facility.

Most facilities will have people to give you a tour. Ask to see the entire facility. Observe the facility closely, ask questions and use this worksheet to compare two facilities that interest you.

22 Points to Help You Choose a Quality Fitness Facility

1. Before you are allowed to work out, does someone at the facility give you a health screening form to fill out, ask you questions about your health (past or present injuries or illnesses) or find out if you are under a doctor’s care?

A health screening will inform the instructors, trainers and management of any injuries, illnesses or limitations that you may have. It will help staff members evaluate your capabilities.

2. Does the facility have adequate room for the number of members who want to work out?

This is especially a concern if you plan to exercise during peak times (usually before work, during lunch and after work).

3. Does the aerobics room have a floor that provides shock absorption?

Ask if the facility has installed a floor that was designed to reduce shock. The greater the shock absorption, the more protective the floor is, because shock absorption reduces impact forces. This can help prevent injuries.

4. Does the facility have the type of weight training and cardiovascular equipment you want to use?

Do you want to use weight machines or free weights? Do you like cycles or treadmills? Look for the types of equipment that interest you.

5. Is all equipment properly cleaned and maintained so that it is in working order?

You want to make sure that the equipment is maintained so that it will work when you want to use it. Clean equipment promotes good hygiene.

6. Are there signs or posters near the equipment that explain how to use it?

In the event that a staff member is not available to help you, signs near the equipment can help you figure out how to use it.

7. Is the facility kept at a comfortable temperature, and does it have good air circulation, either through the use of fans or through some kind of air circulation system?

You want to be comfortable when you exercise. Since you will probably sweat, you don’t want to overheat.

8. Does the facility have established emergency procedures for the staff, and does it have first aid equipment and a trained person on-site to administer treatments?

In case of an injury, accident or emergency, you want to make sure that someone can assist you immediately to forestall further problems.

9. Does the facility carry
liability insurance?

If you get injured through negligence on the facility’s part, it is important that the
club have liability insurance.

10. Will you be allowed to tryout the facility before committing to a membership?

Ask if you can obtain a free day pass to see if you like and feel comfortable in the facility.

11. Does the facility thoroughly explain payment methods, policies and cancellation procedures?

You should find out how you will pay for membership and what will happen if you move or need to cancel your membership for some reason.

12. Does the facility belong to a professional association?

An association such as IDEA or IRSA keeps owners and instructors informed about current safety standards and enjoyable programs and provides a Code of Ethics that members adhere to.

13. Is the facility close to your home or work?

Research has shown that the number-one reason people leave a facility is because it is not conveniently located.

14. Does the facility hire qualified, certified fitness instructors?

To prepare a class that gives you a safe, effective workout, an instructor needs a good grounding in exercise technique. An exercise certification from an organization such as ACE or ACSM indicates that the instructor has basic knowledge or better in the areas necessary to teach a quality class. Instructors should be knowledgeable in anatomy, kinesiology, exercise physiology, injury prevention, monitoring of exercise intensity and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They should also be able to apply this knowledge for specific populations.

15. Is the facility service oriented, not sales oriented?

The staff should encourage you to USE the facility, not just belong. Staff members should be happy to answer any questions you have about the facility’s programs.

16. Are people available to help you if you have questions about the equipment? Will someone show you how to work the equipment?

You can’t get much use out of the equipment if you don’t know how to use it!

17. Do the instructors treat each member individually and offer exercise alternatives for different people, depending on their fitness level and goals?

Instructors should be able to show moves that are suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced participants and those with a variety of health concerns. They should encourage you to go at your own pace and stop and rest if you feel extreme discomfort or fatigue.

18. Do the employees seem to care about you as a person and not just as a revenue source?

Ask other members how happy they are with the customer service the facility provides. Ask if the employees build a personal relationship with the members. You want to know if employees are easily accessible, knowledgeable and friendly.

19. Are you comfortable with the members at the facility?

Ask what type of people frequent the facility. What age range works out at the facility? Are you comfortable with the people you see there? Can you imagine yourself spending time there?

20. Will an employee be available to help you set up an exercise program?

If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised for years, it might be helpful to have someone advise you on what type of exercise would be best for you. The person can suggest classes you could take that you would enjoy and are at the appropriate level for you. He or she can also advise you on weight training and using the cardiovascular equipment.

21. Are the classes or programs you are interested in scheduled at times that are convenient for you?

You want to make sure the classes that appeal to you are convenient to your busy schedule. If you don’t like those that are scheduled for your free times, you won’t go, and that means less value for your dollar.

22. Does the facility offer a variety of programs that interest you?

Variety can improve adherence to an exercise program in the long run. Make sure the facility offers programs that you are excited about.

IDEA FitnessConnect

Looking for a fitness professional, fitness facility, or class? Search IDEA FitnessConnect, the largest directory of personal trainers and fitness instructors, with the most verified profile information from the most trusted certifications in fitness.