Living in the northwest, we’re active people. We are fortunate to be surround by mountains, hills, and lakes that leave us with endless sport and recreational activities. But what do we do when we want to be active but it’s grey and rainy in the winter? Or, if the air quality outdoors is bad due to fires like last year?  Or, we just want to get in shape for our summer bodies and cross- train to prepare for outdoor activities?  The answer, go to the gym. Now, if you already go to the gym on a regular basis, this article may not be for you. But, if you’re someone that doesn’t regularly go to the gym because there are too many in your city to choose from, you get overwhelmed being in a new massive space, or don’t go because you don’t know what you’re doing when you go there; then this article is for you. Below I’ve listed some important things to consider when choosing a gym.

Proximity

The most important part of choosing a gym is proximity. You want the gym to be close to your job, your house, or on a route that your regularly take, so that going there doesn’t take too much time. One of the most common reasons people give for not going to the gym is they don’t have enough time. But, if the gym is close to you or you pass it on a regular basis, then that reason is moot.

Price

Price is another very important factor for choosing a gym. Monthly gym memberships can range from $9 on the low end to hundreds on the high end. You typically are going to get what you pay for, meaning the more money you spend the nicer the gym and more amenities you’ll have. But are all the amenities necessary? Too often, when we run into financial difficulty or want to buy something new, the gym membership is cancelled because it is too expensive. You want the gym to be a normal part of your routine and something you can afford to pay monthly.

Cleanliness

You want to make sure that they gym is clean. It is important for your comfort and to reduce the risk of spreading both diseases and infection. You want to make sure there are spray bottles or wipes spread throughout the gym, and make sure there isn’t a stench of body odor when walking in.

Equipment

Having a variety of equipment that is in good working order is something else to consider. The gym doesn’t necessarily have to have the newest cutting-edge fitness equipment, machines have not changed that much over the past 20 years. You do however want there to be a variety of equipment, so you can continuously make changes to your exercise plan and avoid getting bored with workouts. Checking to see if they have a maintenance person on staff is also recommended, so you know how quickly machines will be up and running if they break down.

Selectorized strength equipment (machines where you perform only one movement, e.g. arm curl machine or leg curl machine), rather than free weights or cables, are a great place to start if you’re a novice at working out. They usually have photos telling you which muscles you are working and where to feel it. If you’re self-conscious about being at the gym, don’t worry, most people are too concerned with their own workout to notice that you’re taking a little extra time familiarizing yourself with the equipment. Older individuals at risk for any health-related problems, be sure to check with your primary care physician to make sure that you are appropriate to start a new exercise regimen. A physical therapist or local fitness professional, like a personal trainer, are great people to talk to regarding proper technique or exercise program design.  Being taught how to do things correctly will go a long way in making sure that you get the most benefit from going to the gym while minimizing the risk of injury.