Choosing the Right Gym: A Beginner’s Guide

Strength training for beginners starts with choosing a gym. And although we often talk about the viability of a home gym setup, it’s not the most convenient, helpful, or even cost-effective option for beginners.

If you have plenty of gyms in your area (which is a big plus, by the way), then it might seem difficult to pick one. Do you pick the closest to your home or the most budget-friendly option? What are some key factors to look out for?

In this post, we’ll look at 10 factors to consider before choosing a gym. So grab your notebook and follow along to see what your checklist should look like.

Location and Open Hours

Location is arguably the most important factor, and considering it wisely will help you build a sustainable routine over the long term. Because even though you might feel motivated to take a long commute right now for your fitness, you’ll have days where you won’t feel like it and it can put you off the gym entirely.

Generally, you’ll want a gym within 10-15 minutes of home, whether that’s by car or on foot. You should also consider the gym’s open hours if you’re a night owl, as there are gyms that close before midnight.

Bonus tip: If you’re willing to drive to the gym and are feeling energetic, try parking 10 minutes away to force yourself to a healthy walk.


Don’t be blinded by expensive gym memberships. You certainly don’t need to go to the Equinox or Life Time Fitness to make the most out of your effort. They’re luxurious and have top-notch standards, of course, but all you really need is the space and the equipment, and you can find those in $10-20 per month gyms.

Generally, you can cut down on costs by choosing a long-term subscription. But if you’re just starting out, we recommend you try one month to see how it suits you before making a long commitment.

Also, consider if the gym has additional costs like maintenance or joining fees.


You’re joining the gym for its equipment. So naturally, you need to make sure that they offer the machines you’ll need.

It can be hard to know what you’re looking for as a beginner, which is why we recommend you create a simple workout to start with, and look for the machines it involves. Look out for dumbbells, barbells, and other free weights you might need as well.


The gym should maintain a clean atmosphere throughout. Take your time analyzing the place, and not just the walls and floors, but the equipment and the weight numbers on them, the machines, cables, accessories, and, very importantly, the changing rooms.

Size and Ambience

A spacious gym will make you feel more comfortable in your workouts, especially if you tend to go during busier hours. But also check the general ambience of the place to see if it suits your tastes. Things like good lighting, music, TVs for entertainment, and a modern feel can all make the gym feel more inviting.

One more thing that’s difficult to gauge while visiting is the gym culture. Try to notice if other people there follow common gym etiquette, such as returning weights after using them.

Classes and Programs

Not everyone will need a custom program, especially since it often comes at an extra cost. But if you need one, check if the gym you’re after is willing to offer one for you, especially if it also comes with a meal plan to help you optimize your regimen.

Some gyms also offer fitness classes on the side, such as yoga, CrossFit, and kickboxing. You could use those as a fun way to keep going back and meet new people.


The gym should also have staff that are noticeably qualified to help you when needed, such as if you’re not following proper form or don’t even know how to use certain machines.

It can be more difficult to tell from a tour, but some gyms will have their staff’s certificates on the wall to indicate their competence. Also, you can always tell by how fit they are.


Invitations are also not necessary for everyone, but if you have a potential gym buddy, you’ll want to consider if your gym offers invitations to non-members.

Extra Services

Some gyms offer extra services that make them stand out, such as a sauna room or a jacuzzi. Those aren’t strictly necessary, but they’re nice to have.

Online Reviews

Since you can’t judge everything in the gym from one tour, it’s best to hear what others have to say about it. Search for your gym on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Reddit. And you’ll most likely find reviews from ex- or current members who could point out the details that you missed.


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