How to pick a gym

In today’s highly convoluted modern gyms, one is likely to find free weights, machines and equipment of all kinds. This has led to a lot of good and just as much bad, depending on how you look at it. It’s very easy to lose sight of what is really important in training, especially with all sorts of advice being thrown at you from all directions.

The first step in developing a proper training philosophy is to choose the right place to work out, or create your own, if you have the space.

  • Look for spacious weight rooms:

In the weight room, free weights must be the center of attention, and must have a well-designed space of their own. A power rack, more than 3 barbells (preferably Olympic), a series of dumbbells with varied weights, and a few sturdy benches are an absolute essential.

Free weights always take precedence over machines because they recruit your muscle fibre better and do not restrict your path of motion. Smith machines, cables, rowing machines, curling machines and such have been proven to be inferior to free weights through EMG readings.

Also, in a real life situation, your motion will not be restricted by a machine. Those who are working out to maintain fitness for “real world” situations and are involved in jobs that require physical work must develop stabilizing abilities using barbells and dumbbells.

Of course, machines play a secondary role, although the only sorts worth bothering with are cables. Most of the others are unnecessary.

  • Don’t get overwhelmed with fancy cardio machines:

In cardiovascular machines, usually a treadmill and stationary cycle are enough. A dragging sled and skipping rope are also good additions, although unnecessary.

  • Peripheral equipment works as a huge plus:

Availability of lifting belts, chains and chalk is a must. Belts prevent most back injuries, chains help you add weight to a bodyweight exercise, such as pull-ups, and chalk absorbs sweat and increases grip.

  • Good storage space and neat changing rooms:

A locker room and availability of showers can be a great addition for those under time constraints. That way you can drive in and out straight to and from the gym to work, college or school.

  • Plenty of space:

Space should not be a constraint at any cost. There should be ample space for movements that require the weight to be moved through a large range of motion, such as squats, deadlifts and cleans. Floor space can also be used for floor presses.













  • Cost: After checking out a gym, one has to wonder if the facilities being provided are worth the cost involved. Often, an expensive gym membership isn’t needed as much as basic equipment. Find what you need and try and convince the owner to allow you to work out at the gym once, just to see if it suits you.
  • Individual attention: Does the gym provide qualified trainers free of cost, or otherwise? Literally hundreds of gyms in India promise personal attention but either don’t provide it, or have the wrong people for it. Be careful while following a trainer and realize the fact that you can question his credentials – it’s your health after all.
  • Group sessions: Today, several gyms run specialty programs for skills such as kickboxing, MMA, yoga and such. If you are interested in a sport or skill, see if you can find a gym with programs that cater to it.

Picking a place to start can be a huge decision but isn’t the only one. Nothing can be accomplished without the right training and nutrition, but choosing the right gym is a good way to start.

Until next time, train hard, eat right and stay strong!