How to choose gyms

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - Ghani By Gus

SOME peo­ple like me pre­fer a smaller-scale gym with­out too many frills, while oth­ers pre­fer a mas­sive gym with all the trim­mings. Oth­ers pre­fer run­ning and ex­er­cis­ing in the great out­doors.

At the end of the day, it is up to the in­di­vid­ual to choose an op­tion that best fits their par­tic­u­lar life­style, which will in turn de­ter­mine how long they will stick to their fit­ness pro­gramme.

It is much eas­ier to quit a gym than to keep your­self mo­ti­vated enough to keep ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly ev­ery week. To over­come this prob­lem of mem­bers leav­ing early, most gyms will of­fer greater in­cen­tives for those who sign up and pay up­front for longer mem­ber­ship con­tracts. Once some­one is a long-term or life­time mem­ber, the gym will not­lose­out­much fi­nan­cially if he or she drops out. But sadly, the True Fit­ness saga has shown that some big gyms are more con­cerned about re­cruit­ing new mem­bers than look­ing after the wel­fare of its ex­ist­ing mem­bers.

Spot­ting dud gyms

For those of you who are look­ing to join a re­li­able fit­ness cen­tre, here’s my ad­vice. Ask your­self th­ese im­por­tant 1 ques­tions first: Why do I want to join a gym? Do I have a fit­ness plan?

How much time can I re­al­is­ti­cally spend in the gym in a week? What is a com­fort­able bud­get?

After you de­cide that you can re­ally af­ford it, and can make time to visit the gym at least twice a week, then you can pro­ceed to the next tip be­low.

Short­list some po­ten­tial gyms 2 in a lo­ca­tion con­ve­nient to you, ei­ther close to your work­place or home. If the gym fees are greater than your avail­able bud­get, strike it off the short­list.

Visit the short­listed gyms and 3 check if their ex­er­cise ma­chines and the over­all fa­cil­i­ties are in good work­ing or­der. Check also if they have enough ma­chines/ fa­cil­i­ties.

Ask cur­rent mem­bers what they like and dis­like about their gym. Talk to the staff and check if they are friendly and mo­ti­vated. If you learn that the ma­chines keep break­ing down or take a long time to be re­paired, then for­get about join­ing this gym.

Sim­i­larly, if the staff com­plain about the gym, man­age­ment or the mem­bers, strike it off your list too. Make an ap­point­ment to meet 4 the gym owner or man­ager, and ask them what their cur­rent and fu­ture plans are for the de­vel­op­ment of their gyms. The more spe­cific and de­tailed their plans are, the more likely that they will fol­low through on those plans.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity of the com­pany or about its ma­jor share­hold­ers – any gen­uine com­pany will be trans­par­ent about their busi­ness op­er­a­tions to in­still mar­ket con­fi­dence in their brand.

If the an­swers you get are too gen­eral and non-com­mit­tal, then strike them off your list too! Ba­si­cally, ask­ing more of the 5 right ques­tions will help you to even­tu­ally find the right gym for you.

NEVER al­low your­self to be rushed or pres­sured by hard sell tac­tics into a de­ci­sion. If you have any doubts about the gym which can­not be sat­is­fac­to­rily clar­i­fied, then just walk away.

When you have made your fi­nal de­ci­sion and you have cho­sen one gym, don’t sign up yet. Ask for free passes (one or two days), so that you can get a good feel of what it’s like to work out in the gym.

If the gym man­age­ment is sin­cere, they should have no qualms about giv­ing you free ses­sions with­out any obli­ga­tion.

If you still want to join the gym after all that, then make sure you are fully in­formed about the pay­ment mech­a­nisms and due dates, the can­cel­la­tion clauses and if there is a cool­ing-off pe­riod in which you can can­cel the con­tract (again, with­out any obli­ga­tions) within a cer­tain time­frame (typ­i­cally seven days).

The sil­ver lin­ing about the high pro­file demise of True Fit­ness is that other gyms will ex­pect a back­lash from the public, so gym op­er­a­tors ought to be more ac­com­mo­dat­ing when it comes to an­swer­ing de­tailed ques­tions about their com­pany fi­nances, fa­cil­i­ties and staffing. So fire away with your ques­tions!

Smaller, cheaper gyms

The dis­ad­van­tage of a long-term gym mem­ber­ship is that it is not flex­i­ble when it comes to meet­ing any ma­jor un­planned changes in your life, eg:

> you have to move over­seas or out­sta­tion

>you­can­no­lon­gerex­er­cise­due to injuries

> you de­cide to pur­sue other exercises like run­ning in a park

> you can no longer af­ford to up­keep the monthly gym fees

Of course, the big­gest risk of longterm mem­ber­ship is if the op­er­a­tor sud­denly closes down.

In my case, I have found many small neigh­bour­hood gyms which charge as lit­tle as RM8 per en­try. Be­cause of the True Fit­ness fi­asco, some peo­ple are now mov­ing back to the smaller bou­tique gyms for bet­ter, more per­sonal ser­vice at a lower cost.

Granted, th­ese small bou­tique gyms may not be as “glam­orous” as the hy­per gyms, but I find that they have ad­e­quate basic ex­er­cise ma­chines to keep me fit with­out the burden of large up­front fees.

The great out­doors

No mat­ter how good or cheap gyms are, many peo­ple still pre­fer to ex­er­cise for free (alone or in groups) in parks, open fields and forests – there’s fresh air too!

There are many dif­fer­ent types of exercises which we can per­form out­doors (or in our homes) with very basic and in­ex­pen­sive equip­ment or by just us­ing our own body­weight as re­sis­tance. If you don’t be­lieve me, just type “cal­is­then­ics exercises” on YouTube. –

Elas­tic re­sis­tance bands are like hav­ing a ‘gym in your pocket’ that you can take any­where. You can turn any place into a gym by us­ing sim­ple things like elas­tic re­sis­tance bands. You can ex­er­cise any­where you want, not just at a gym, as this file photo of for­mer US President Barack Obama shows.

Many parks have free out­door gym equip­ment, like this one in USJ 4, Subang Jaya, Se­lan­gor.

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