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Ready to Get Back at It? Tips for Choosing the Right Gym.

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Not all fitness centers are the same, choose the best one worth your time and money.

Registered dietitian, Carrie Taylor, gives her tips for shopping for a new gym.

With so many different options out there, it's important to find a fitness center that delivers. Look for a club that offers the safest and best exercise equipment, programs and personnel to meet your needs. Regardless of how cheap the membership fee is, you need to screen potential centers before signing the dotted line. By evaluating and comparing a handful of facilities, you can protect both yourself and your wallet from harm.

Fitness centers should have properly trained staff conducting exercise programs and training. There are too many fitness centers out there with unqualified personnel, so verify their educational training and professional credentialing. Some clubs post their staff's qualifications in clear view. If you employed top-rate professionals, wouldn't you do the same?


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that optimal professional qualifications "should include a college degree in a health-related field such as exercise science, physical education or kinesiology. Additionally, staff should hold an exercise certification from a nationally recognized, preferably non-profit organization." If an employee hasn't obtained a health-related degree from an accredited college or university, make sure they at least have undergone training and certification from a reputable organization.


The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) is a top choice for certified aerobics instructors. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers certification for personal trainers and is a common organization used by individuals new to the profession. That said, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and ACSM should provide the primary certification for the majority of personal trainers and management staff at a facility.


Finally, don't ever let a gym pressure you into joining. If they require outrageous signing fees (Sign up now for only $150 and $25 a month!) or limited specials (If you sign up this afternoon your membership will only be $10, otherwise membership will be $40 tomorrow.) walk away- far, far away.

Check out the ACSM’s “Selecting the Right Fitness Facility for You” brochure to learn more.

Published 1/3/2022; Reviewed 12/1/2022