Find the right gym for youHealth
What’s one of the fastest-growing segments of health-club membership? Baby boomers, who are signing up for gym memberships in significant numbers. It’s a development that started a few years back as older adults began to make their health a priority, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). In fact, when the ACSM released its 2018 top 20 fitness trends, programs for older adults earned a spot.
As a result, gyms are tailoring their classes, equipment, and even music choices and lighting to draw you into the club—all good news if you want to give a gym membership a try. You’ll reap not only physical benefits but social ones, too, both of which can go a long way in keeping you healthy for years to come. But every gym is unique, so use these strategies to find the best one for you.
- Talk up the staff. When you’re doing your initial meet and greet, try to get a feel for how long workers have been at the club. If most have worked there just a few months but the club is several years old, that should raise a red flag. “Longevity of the staff means that the place takes care of its people, which means it takes care of its members,” says Pete McCall, an American Council on Exercise–certified personal trainer in Encinitas, California, and host of the All About Fitness podcast. Also ask how well the staff is equipped to work with older adults.
- Assess the environment. Does the facility allow easy accessibility, especially if you have any limitations, such as with vision or movement? “Make sure you can comfortably navigate the facility,” says Mike Waters, the director of health promotion at Timberhill Athletic Club in Corvallis, Oregon.
- Look at the group fitness options. While the types of classes are important, a more crucial factor is when they’re offered. You want to make sure that if you’re interested in taking classes, they’re happening at times that suit your schedule.
- Put warm and wet in your search criteria. No matter how fit you are, there may be days when your joints just aren’t up for a workout—something that becomes more prevalent as you age. That’s when having a warm pool, a hot tub, or even a sauna can come in handy, Waters says.
- Get the most bang for your buck. Check if your health insurance provider or any organizations you belong to offer discounts at health clubs. Most gyms won’t tell you about discounts unless you ask, so do your homework. Also, the best time to join a gym is usually at the end of the month, when they are willing to cut deals to hit their monthly targets.
- Ask for a free trial. It’s one of the best ways to determine if the gym is a good match. If a health club you’re considering isn’t willing to let you try their facility for free for a set period, like a day or week, move on, says McCall.