So you’ve decided to join a fitness center. Good for you! But it’s important to realize that all health clubs and fitness centers are not created equal. Here’s some tips to help you choose a quality fitness center.

When you choose a quality fitness center you can relax knowing that you can have a long term membership for years to come. You should always visit a club before you join. Visit during the times you would be using it. That way you can see how busy it is, how long the waits for equipment are, and whether the number of trainers is adequate.

When you inspect the facilities make sure that thinks appear to be well maintained. Watch for out of order signs on equipment. Check to see that the ventilation is working properly and that the gym temperature is comfortable. Check the equipment, washrooms, and change areas for cleanliness. The fitness center you choose should meet all of these expectations.

Have a look around the fitness center and note how many staff are available especially during busy periods. Are trainers by appointment only or is there a floater on the floor to help you if you need it. What’s the atmosphere like? Does it seem friendly and relaxed or is there tension. Are the staff friendly and helpful?

Check carefully the number of pieces of equipment the fitness center has and make sure there doesn’t seem to be a shortage. For example are there too few treadmills? Are there line ups for equipment? Take note because if there is shortage you could spend more time standing around than working out and that’s the quickest way to loose interest.

You should also check staff qualifications. All trainers should be properly trained and they should also be certified. Some of the most respected certifications include ACE or American Council on Exercise, ACSM or American College of Sports Medicine, the Institute for Aerobics Research, IDEA or International Dance Exercise Association, AFAA or Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the NACSM or Northland Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Before you sign any contracts make sure your read it really carefully. Sometimes these contracts can have an awful lot of “extra stuff” tucked into them so know what your are signing. Understand the length of the contract and any penalties if you decide to leave early. Many fitness centers also have a cooling off period where you can change your mind. It’s usually 3 days.

Find out if you are allowed guests and what the fee is for guests. Find out if there is a maximum length of time that you can spend at the gym at one time. Find out if there is a maximum length of time that you can use any one individual piece of equipment.

It pays to check with the BBB before joining a fitness center and it also pays to ask other members what they think of it. Ask those that are current members and see what they have to say.