How To Find The Gym That’s Right For You


Remember last week (or was it already the week before? Geez!) when I attended a spin class as a guest at Lifetime?

Well, I was offered an unbelievable extended guest pass to bring me back through the end of the year.


This special family guest pass would grant me full access to Lifetime once again including the ability to bring my son to the kids club, use of the indoor pool, all group fitness classes (spin, barre, yoga, kickboxing, strength, zumba….) and, get this part, free lunch from the café.


I turned it down.


I know, right? What’s wrong with me?

Especially to turn down the free food, I mean, it was FREE FOOD.

Life Cafe

I used to love their yogurt parfaits with a side of peanut butter and granola.

You see, as lovely as this all-inclusive guest pass may sound, I am really happy and satisfied with my current workout routine.

I love to run outside. All year-long.

I have a gym in my community which is certainly no Lifetime Athletic but it does give me a treadmill, an elliptical, some weights, and a bike should I need it.


I also love doing the Pure Barre and Gigabody barre videos from the comforts of my living room.

I do not have to drive anywhere and the routine I have for myself works so sweetly in my morning schedule.

Not to mention, my son wants no part of the Lifetime kids club, even if it is beautiful and has a basketball court.

And while the outdoor pool area is gorgeous, it’s closed until Memorial Day and the indoor pool doesn’t appeal to him either.

Lifetime Athletic

Just the thought of having Lifetime as an option again, as great and massive as it is, was just a little too overwhelming.

I didn’t want that nagging feeling of knowing I had the pass therefore I needed to get there, to figure out which day I would go, which class to take or what the heck I would do once I arrived —Cardio? Weights? Classes?

Sometimes, the choices can be so endless and I honestly don’t need the options or another thing to think about at the moment.

One of the things I actually love about myself is my ability to know when enough is enough, to realize when I need a change and to know when to leave well enough alone.

how to find the gym that is right for you

But what if you are looking to join a gym? What if you are in the process of figuring out the routine which works best for you?


Ask yourself the following questions in order to minimize the stress of a sometimes overwhelming decision:


How much money do I have to spend on a membership?

Some gym memberships are super pricey but as I say, if you have it to spend and you are going to use it, it is worth it.

Selecting a $10/month gym membership but never actually going, is still throwing away money. It may seem like no big deal but if you aren’t going to the gym yet you are paying for a membership, I don’t care what it costs you, YOU ARE WASTING MONEY!

What exactly do I need?

A full-service gym that offers it all – cardio options (treadmill, ellipticals, stair climbers), weights, group fitness, pool, babysitting, showers, café, personal training?

A bare bones gym which supplies the basics with none of the frills?

Are you an outdoor runner just looking to supplement with a specialty studio for yoga, pilates, spin or barre?

Do I need babysitting?

If the answer is yes,  narrow your choices down to the clubs which offer child care. Not all gyms have this feature!

From here, determine if the babysitting operating hours meet your needs, if you need to reserve your spot(s) in advance, if the play area is clean, how many children they accept and how many adults will be watching the kids.

Do I need the gym to be close to my home or closer to my office? Is there a gym located in between so I can go both during the week and on weekends? Or, do they offer a special membership which gives access to various club locations?

Before my son was born, I chose a gym closer to my office because I knew I would get up to go before work, take a shower and head to the office. It wasn’t super far from my house so on occasion I went on the weekends too but the majority of my workouts were weekday focused.

What are the club hours? Do they work for me?

Some gyms are 24 hours but most aren’t. Check the hours to make sure they work for your schedule, especially when it comes to holidays and weekends. You would be surprised at what you uncover.

Are group fitness classes offered? If so, are the classes that interest me available at times I can take them?

Group fitness classes are only good if you can actually make it to the classes when they are offered.

Do I need to use the locker room for more than just stashing my belongings?

Lifetime has a gorgeous locker room complete with beautiful showers and lots of amenities. Not all gyms are like that.


I have no shame — I totally took home lots of tampons (and razors) from the Lifetime locker room back in the day.

If you are looking to shower and get ready after your workout, you may want to check out the facilities to ensure they meet your standards.

Is the membership month to month? Is there an initiation fee or price special currently running to save some money?

Do your research. Ask if they can waive a fee or throw something in <–can’t hurt to ask. If you don’t look out for your wallet, no one else will!

Read the fine print. Some gyms insist upon charging a cancellation fee and/or require 30 day advance notice (in writing) that you are canceling or even freezing a membership, even when month to month.

My best advice is seek out a guest pass. I have yet to encounter a gym that won’t offer you something so that you can test out the club before putting down the money.

While the specialty studios (like Pure Barre) may not give you free access, they will certainly let you pay for one class before signing up for a package.    

And please, don’t wait until January 1st! Plenty of gyms (like Lifetime who won’t stop calling me to come back, willing to waive all sorts of fees to get me to join) are offering their deals now, you just aren’t hearing about all of them because the big fitness push starts after the new year.

Are you currently looking for a new gym? What are your must-haves?

Are you guilty of paying a monthly membership but not using it?

Are you satisfied with your fitness routine right now or do you want to make changes?

Don’t forget to check out what everyone else is thinking about today!


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  1. says

    Ive bene going to the same gym for years, and its pricey but I always used it quite a bit until recently. During marathon training I had weather that allowed me to do all of my runs outside so I didn’t step foot in the gym. I finally went back yesterday and now that trainings over i hope to get back to taking more classes and getting my moneys worth. I would rather pay much less for a really basic gym but I just haven’t found an option like that that is convenient. My parents go to lifetime and I was able to use the outdoor pool once- its such a fancy facility! I think it would be intimated to go there regularly.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Why Everyone Should Run A Marathon (TOL 28)My Profile

    • says

      It is certainly beautiful and a bit overwhelming at first until you narrow down what it is you want to do for your workout. I found myself getting lost there, doing more than planned because it was all in front of me.

  2. says

    Great great great post. WHat is the point of paying for something that you know you won’t use because it isn’t the right fit! I loved doing the Class Pass thing, but I don’t know if right now I would pay for it unless I knew more about my schedule. And furthermore, if you can run outside year round, and you love it. There you go.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Willpower: A muscle to strengthen #thinkingoutloudMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you. I would hate to pay for something I wasn’t using which was becoming the case with Lifetime last year. I was going less and less and running outside more and more. I couldn’t handle paying and not using it and really found myself going more out of guilt than anything else. That’s when I canceled.

  3. says

    I’m currently going back and forth on the idea of joining a gym again. I do have one in my building that can get the job done, but I find myself lacking the motivation to go use it on a regular basis because it’s perpetually empty and lonely. That and it would be nice to get away from the house and interact with more people since I work from home and spend a lot of my time within a 1 km radius.. That being said, the membership is expensive as hell, so I’m waiting until they offer a good deal on it.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #107 .My Profile

    • says

      I am sure they will have a deal coming up, it not already. I hear you on wanting to get out of the same old spot when it comes to the gym. I guess I don’t mind mine as much because I am usually outside on my own anyway. I did like Lifetime for the social aspect but I ended up getting as I used to say “lost” in there spending more time than I really had for being there.

    • says

      It’s pretty pricey but go in for a free guest pass for sure – it’s worth trying out. I know they are running lots of deals and waiving all sorts of fees so maybe if you like it, they will have a deal for you.

  4. says

    Wow, what a stacked gym lifetime is! I could NOT have passed on a deal like that. Showers, classes, and free tampons?! We’re talking here.

    I admire that you know when top much is too much, even if you’re offered with such great bargains, it goes to show you are wise whereas I know tons of people(myself included, out of the way i was raised) are taught to be economic and not self-smart.
    Linda @ The Fitty recently posted…Night of Tears, and Applying for JuilliardMy Profile

  5. says

    I love my gym! I go to the ever controversial Planet Fitness! Haha. I got about 2-3 times a week to lift weights. I love that they have lots of dumbbells and very nice cable machines. In the winter, if it is icy, I will run on a treadmill there, but otherwise I really only lift at PF. It is definitely a no frills gym- no pool, no classes, no baby-sitting… but I don’t need any of that so it works for me! And a $10 a month, it is so worth it!

    • says

      I have Planet Fitness literally steps from my community! I used to belong there and it totally served my purpose until the gym in my community was renovated. You can’t beat the $10/month. It’s no Lifetime but it absolutely serves the gym purpose.

  6. says

    i work at a gym/fitness center. And the big thing we NEED that we don’t have is babysitting. But, some moms make it happen. Love the lifetime!

    • says

      The babysitting option is so key for gyms which have a lot of family memberships. It was pretty important for me when my son was at an age that was good for the kids club so that I could actually get to the gym!