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How to pick the perfect gym

Sarah Wassner Flynn is a New York City-based writer. She's contributed to magazines such as CosmoGIRL!, National Geographic Kids, Runner's World, Women's Health, Prevention and MetroSports New York. She is also the author of The Book of ...

The best gym for you

Gifting yourself with a gym membership this year? Or perhaps you're over your current club and are ready for a change of venue. Finding the facility that caters to your wants and needs is no simple feat, but IDEA Health & Fitness Association has some quick tips on selecting the right gym for you. So if you're in the market for a new gym, here are five questions to ask yourself as you shop around.

The best gym for you

1. Is it close enough?

That brand-new gym across town may have top-of-the-line everything, but no matter how awesome the amenities, chances are you'll still find plenty of reasons to skip your workouts if the gym is out of your way. So find a facility that's within walking distance or, at the very least, a quick drive from your house or office. After all, it'll be hard to avoid exercising when you pass the gym on your way home!

2. Is the price right?

When looking for a gym, it's key to consider cost and what amenities you're getting for that fee. You may be enticed by all of the bells-and-whistles of a higher-end club, but take time to consider whether they actually merit a costly membership. Like that fancy gym with its Olympic-size pool? Not really worth that $100 fee if you're never going to swim. So if you're seeking a simpler workout, a more barebones (and cheaper) club will probably do the trick. And as you're gym shopping, look for those health clubs that'll waive the initiation fee or offer a discount on your first few months — many facilities feature deep discounts before and right after the holidays.

3. Is it too crowded?

After a long day at work, you finally make it to the gym only to find long lines at every elliptical and treadmill. Sound familiar? Then your new gym should have adequate equipment and space for all of its members. To make sure it does, take a tour of a prospective facility at peak times (before and after work and during lunch) If you see anyone waiting to workout or it just seems extra-crowded, then the gym's just not for you — unless you can conveniently work out at non-peak times.

4. Is there enough equipment?

Nothing revs your routine like a little variety, but it's pretty hard to change things up when you only have a few machines and classes to work with. Your ideal gym will have plenty of equipment — from a combination of weight machines and free weights to treadmills, elliptical trainers and cycles. {Headline}5. What's the class schedule like?Even if you're not really a fitness class kind of gal, it's good to know that they are available whenever you get bored of logging those miles on the treadmill. So make sure your new gym offers a variety of programs that'll keep you inspired to return on a regular basis — and that they're scheduled at convenient times, too. And don't hesitate to ask around about the instructors: They should have an exercise certification that's accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and be knowledgeable in anatomy, kinesiology, exercise physiology, injury prevention, and monitoring of exercise intensity as well as be CPR certified.

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