HOW TO CHOOSE
THE RIGHT HEALTH CLUB
The health clubs in the Global Health and Fitness (GHF) directory offer outstanding services: a large selection of high-quality equipment, health and fitness knowledge, and other attractive amenities such as steam- room/sauna, jacuzzi, massage therapy, and more. However, health clubs vary greatly, not only in services and equipment available but also in pricing structure.
Many join a health club with great intentions and then windup unhappy and dissatisfied. Starting a health and fitness program is hard enough--don't make it more difficult by joining a health club that doesn't meet your needs.
Before simply joining the first health club on the GHF directory, do a little research. First, click on your home state (or state you are traveling to). Next, do a search by city, this will bring up an alphabetical listing of all the health clubs in your area. Click on each health club listing--this will take you directly to their web page where can learn more about their services, equipment, rates, hours, etc. Once you've narrowed down the list by location, price range and services, you should talk with the health club's sales staff and plan a visit to the club.
When shopping for a health club consider the following:
• Location: For your fitness program to be a success, exercising has to be convenient or it won't become a realistic lifestyle change. The closer and easier it is to get to (and park your car), the better. Of course, you don't want to join a health club that doesn't suit you just because it's close to your home or office, but if you're joining a health club that isn't convenient to get to, you're a lot more likely to find an excuse to stop going.
• Try Before You Buy Sales staff are very good at selling the many benefits of their health club, but you need to spend some time trying the equipment and "feeling" the atmosphere. Ask for a day pass or trial membership--health clubs have nothing to loose and everything to gain by this. Be sure to try out the club at the time that you would normally workout--you'll get a better feel for how crowded it is. Notice if there is much of a wait for equipment, how helpful the staff is, and if the equipment is well maintained. You may even ask a few members what they like about the club.
• Make Sure They Have What You Want Make a list of the things that are important to you, such as personal training, child care, aerobics classes, etc., and make sure the health club has what you need. If classes help to motivate you and the health club doesn't offer the classes you need, sticking with your exercise program won't be realistic. Try the class and make sure it is enjoyable, challenging and educational. Just the same, if you have children, make sure the health club has child care or it will be tough to make it to the club.
• Member Profile Find out what the members are like; see if the atmosphere is comfortable. If you're a beginner, some clubs may be intimidating. Select a club where you feel comfortable and welcome.
• Staff Make sure there is always someone available to answer your questions, to show you a new exercise, or how to use a piece of equipment. Are they friendly, helpful and knowledgable?
• Costs and Contracts Find out exactly what the membership fee includes; personal training, classes, pool, towel service, lockers, child care, etc. Are there extra costs for additional services? This should play a big part in your decision to join a certain health club.
Some health clubs have a one-time initiation fee and require purchasing a minimum of three months up front. Depending on your budget, you may want to find a club that allows you to go on a month-to-month basis. In addition, find out if the health club debits the funds directly out of your Visa or checking account. This can make it easier to pay membership fees but make sure that it's easy to cancel if you decide you don't like the club.
Be sure you read the contract before you sign so you're not "locked" into paying even if you move out of town or change health clubs.
Also, have a clear idea of what you can afford to pay and stick to your budget no matter what sales incentives are offered. And don't be afraid to bargain. If they're asking $49 a month and all you can afford is $39, offer $39 (if they've met previous criteria) and let them know you're prepared to join then and there.
******************************************** HOW TO CHOOSE A PERSONAL TRAINER
Having your very own personal trainer has several great advantages: Trainers provide motivation, professional expertise, and personalized attention--all key components of reaching your personal health and fitness goals. All the personal trainers in the Global Health and Fitness (GHF) directory are certified by an accredited professional organization (ACSM, ACE, etc.). However, personal trainers vary greatly, not only in educational background and costs, but also in personal philosophy, training and consulting practices.
Before simply hiring the first personal trainer listed in our directory, click on the listing of each personal trainer in your hometown. This will take you to their web page where you can learn more about their personal philosophy, education/credentials, experience, and rates. This way you'll know if the personal trainer is qualified and likely to meet your personal needs before you spend your hard earned money. Once you've narrowed down the list, you should talk with the trainer, make sure your goals and objectives are very clear, and see if the trainer is best-suited to help you. Call or meet with the trainer and ask the following questions:
1. Why did you become a personal trainer? Personal trainers should not only have a passion for good health and fitness, they should also love to share their expertise and help others reach their personal goals.
2. Do you keep current with research? The answer must be yes! Personal trainers need to continually update their knowledge through seminars, workshops, books, etc., in order to provide you with safe and effective information.
3. Can you supply client references? Good trainers have satisfied customers and won't hesitate to put you in touch. Give two or three of the clients a call, asking about the trainer's strengths and weaknesses, and if they were professional, informative, and dependable. Also ask them if the trainer explained the reasoning behind their recommendations and program decisions.
4. Do you have liability insurance? Personal trainers should protect their clients by insuring themselves and their services against personal injury and property loss.
5. Are you certified in CPR and first aid? The trainer must know the proper procedures to follow in emergency situations.
6. Are you available on the days and times I've selected? The whole point of having a personal trainer is to get the personal instruction and motivation you need, at times that are convenient for you.
7. What are your fees? The answer to this question varies greatly. Personal training can cost as little as $20, or as much as $200 per hour. The personal trainer should not only be qualified, he/she should also fit comfortably within your budget. Be sure to ask if there are any additional fees and if the rate includes the use of a local health club.
8. What are your training/business policies? It's a good idea to find out up-front their policy on extra fees, contracts, cancellations, and billing procedures.
After speaking with the personal trainer, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Did the trainer ask me questions about myself and my lifestyle?
2. Does the trainer promote an integrated program that includes all five components of optimal health (strength training, weight management, cardiovascular exercise, nutrition, and flexibility training)?
3. Did the trainer have good listening skills and communicate well?
4. Am I comfortable with the trainer's gender?
5. Will I get along with this trainer and look forward to working with him/her?
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