la fitnessWith so many gyms, how do you choose one that is right for you? The answer is simple:

Location. Studies have shown that if you cannot walk, drive, or bike to your gym in ten minutes, you are less likely to go.

However, there are a lot of other factors to consider when choosing a gym. In particular, should you sign up with fitness center chains such as XSport Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Bally Total Fitness, L.A. Fitness, Lifetime Fitness, Planet Fitness, etc., or become a member with smaller, local gyms, either a park district or a privately owned gym? Here are the pros and cons of choosing a gym chain:


  • Larger fitness centers offer you everything from weights, swimming pools, saunas, dance rooms, basketball courts, salons, spas, tanning beds, cafes, and climbing walls.
  • State of the art equipment: Many gyms boast the latest in resistance and cardio machines, allowing you to watch television on your own personal monitor while you run on a treadmill.
  • Multiple convenient locations
  • Yoga, pilates, and fitness classes
  • Often open 24 hours
  • Certified trainers
  • Free 7 day passes
  • More equipment


  • Cost: Chains usually have fees: enrollment fees, startup fees, one-time administrative fees, etc. In the end, it all boils down to paying more up front, and of course, often more money than a local or park district gym per month.
  • Contracts: Some gyms require you to sign a contract and provide 30 days notice before canceling your membership. However, some also let you freeze your account (for instance, if you are going away to school) which is a good option.
  • Intimidation: Let’s face it, joining a big gym can be intimidating. You’re going to see lots of people with nice bodies. It’s up to you to block out the people lifting more than you.
  • Lack of privacy/crowding

It is always important to ask yourself why you are choosing a specific gym. Even if they have an abundance of equipment and amenities, such as basketball courts and climbing walls, ask yourself: “Am I really going to use all of these amenities?”

If all you really want to do in a gym is lift weights, why pay more for other activities and services?

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