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Finding a Gem of a Gym


Tips for finding the perfect health club or personal trainer for you

(ARA) - People say the same thing every year, “This is the year I’ll start exercising, eat right and feel better about myself.” Sound familiar? During the month of January, an estimated 1 million Americans will make this promise, many attempting to shed excess holiday pounds, by joining a health club. While making this decision is an important step in achieving fitness goals, choosing the right health club and personal trainer is the key to succeeding in any fitness program and improving one’s overall health.

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the not-for-profit trade association representing the fitness industry, more than 8 million Americans joined a health club in 2001, with almost 1 million doing so in the month of January. In 2001, an estimated 33.8 million people belonged to a health club, with the average member logging 93 days per year working out at a health club.

“Health club membership and attendance has grown steadily,” says John McCarthy, executive director of IHRSA. “Americans of all different ages and levels of physical fitness are making the decision to get fit, and it is critical that they choose the health club and personal trainer that is right for their specific needs.”

According to IHRSA, individuals seeking a health club or personal trainer should follow the tips below when searching for their fitness solutions:

* Determine your fitness goals and look for a health club that offers programs and services that will help you achieve them.

* Ask your friends and co-workers where they workout and why. Find out if they have a personal trainer they could recommend.

* Choose a health club close to home or work.

* Visit a health club during the timeframe when you are most likely to workout. This will help you truly gauge whether the club meets your needs.

* Check the locker rooms and club amenities to determine if it’s well organized and clean.

* Talk to fitness instructors about their programs and find out how they are conducted, when classes are held, and who attends. This will help determine if the club offers classes that interest you and are appropriate for your fitness level.

* When looking for a personal trainer, meet with prospective trainers first to find out how they would work with you and what kind of programs they will recommend. Always keep in mind that a personal training certification does not qualify them as a nutrition counselor, physical therapist, or other specialized healthcare provider.

Tell your trainer about your level of experience, current level of activity, fitness goals, and all medical conditions or dietary requirements. Make sure they have all the relevant information about your health and physical condition necessary to develop a fitness program that is appropriate for you.

Trainers have varying types and levels of experience. Just because a trainer is accomplished at helping clients prepare for marathons, they may not be the right person for someone just getting back into a fitness routine. Make sure they have the skills necessary to work with you safely and effectively.

Also, when you join a health club ask about the terms of the membership agreement and make sure to thoroughly review the details on the application. Make sure you understand the cancellation policy, billing procedures, length of the agreement and membership renewal process to prevent confusion about your membership in the future.

Bottom line, whether joining a health club or choosing a trainer, take your time and research all the choices thoroughly. A successful exercise program will require a real commitment and will help you achieve your goals and maximize the investment you make in both time and money.

Fitness-seekers should visit for a comprehensive listing of quality clubs across the United States including directions to clubs and important information that should be read before signing a membership agreement. This Web site proves particularly useful if you are on the road or have just moved. It allows you to find a club based on the activities you want -- from group cycling to basketball to spa services to childcare.

Courtesy of ARA Content