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Friday, November 30, 2007

Choosing The Right Gym

One of the most common questions I receive in my inbox is also one of the most simple: what are the criteria for a good gym? Where should I be working out, and how can I tell if I've chosen a good place? It seems so raightforward, but oftentimes people overlook some of the most important factors. Your gym is somewhere you'll be spending at least 3 grueling hours per week (plus getting changed, warmup and cooldown, stretching, socializing, etc). On top of that, you have to pay for it - so choose carefully! Here are some of the top criteria that should be considered when choosing a gym:

1) Distance. A long commute to the gym is a serious pain in the ass, and can cost you a ton of money in gas or bus fare. It's also a big waste of time if you have to commute too far to the gym. If possible, choose a gym that's really close by - within walking distance is obviously ideal, but you definitely don't want to be driving more than 15 minutes. If you have a short walk o! r bike to the gym, you've already taken care of your warmup! Regardless, long commutes will kill your motivation and end up hurting your gains.

2) Price. If you can't afford it, then you shouldn't be there. A good gym can be pricey, but you shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg. Buying by the year is usually cheaper than the month, but don't get talked into long-term deals unless you're certain you've found a gym you love.

3) Equipment. Arguably the most important element - you absolutely need a gym with the proper equipment. A quality squat rack is critical. Make sure that there are enough barbell plates and that they're in good shape. If they look a bit shoddy you might want to check to see if they're actually the weight advertised. You'll also need good benches, matching pairs of dumbbells to at least 120lbs (more is better if you're lifting big or progressing quickly). Lastly, a good assortment of machines is a bonus - at least make sure there! 's a lat pulldown and maybe a Smith machine.

4) Crowd! ing. Having to wait for benches or other equipment can cost you precious time. Since you don't want to wait too long between sets and you definitely don't want your workout to last longer than an hour, overcrowding can be deadly. The busiest time in most gyms is between 4 and 8pm, so keep that in mind when you're making your decision. If you regularly work out at 9am, crowding may not be a factor.

5) People. Try to select a gym that's focused on people like you. If you're grunting and groaning as you push out rep after rep of intense deadlifts in a gym full of retirees, you probably won't make a lot of friends. Your motivation is probably going to suffer as well. If possible, try to work out with people who have similar goals.

6) Cleanliness/aesthetics. Although not critical, a gym that is air-conditioned, clean and bright is definitely an upside. These elements won't make or break a fitness spot, but they can definitely improve your mood and assist the! mental aspects of your workout.

All in all, choosing the right gym can be the difference between success and failure. The mental aspect of your gym should not be overlooked, and you should definitely keep these 6 aspects in mind.

For more practical muscle building advice and tips, visit With over 80 articles and many product reviews, the Muscle Gain Guide is the internet's #1 source for muscle building information.

Mike Bowman is the senior editor at He has years of experience in natural bodybuilding and is the author of hundreds of renowned muscle building articles. Visit for more advice and quality, unbiased information.

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