If you’re searching for ‘gyms near me’, then making sure you find the best gym for your needs can be an incredibly beneficial experience, providing physical and mental wellbeing across a wide range of activities.

Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and joining a gym is a great place to start. Improvements in your physical wellbeing can range from better joint mobility and strengthened muscles, which all lead to minimising risks such as falling. Exercise also helps how you think, as it enhances cognitive function, boosts moods and even helps with sleep. A gym near you is the ideal place for this healthy lifestyle, as it provides the right combination of equipment, expertise and sociability, whilst getting you out of the house! However, with so many gyms to choose from today, it can seem daunting when searching online for ‘gyms near me’.

So forget the grease-fuelled picture that makes the gym seem alien to many of us. Gyms today are inclusive and aren’t the sole domain of bodybuilders or fighting-fit youth. Gyms can be welcoming and friendly places that cater to all ages, shapes and sizes with exercise classes and personal training, so you can find your feet at your own pace.

Read our guide on what to consider when choosing a gym near you.

Things to consider when searching for ‘gyms near me’

Consider the cost of joining a gym

The long-term financial implications of becoming a member can be the first stumbling block to joining a gym. Yet, now more than ever, the willingness of gyms to recruit new members provides the unique opportunity for a variety of different options, with pay-as-you-gym, monthly and annual memberships.

Standard practice for many gyms is to ask for a joining fee, which may be equivalent to a month’s membership cost. However, in a world of convenience payments are usually taken via direct debit, with no fuss, with gym membership fees automatically coming out of your bank account on the allotted date. Gym memberships are usually monthly subscriptions, with gym membership payments taken at the end of each month.

Be wary of contracts though! Always read the small print to make sure you are happy with the terms, such as notice to leave clauses. You may have to pay for six months’ even if you leave after one month or notify a certain period in advance.

However, the job of comparing gyms can be made easier with the availability of perks. You can position yourself to take advantage of their own marketing tools, such as ‘refer-a-friend.’ This can provide gifts from towels to holidays, coupled with the benefits of getting your friends into the swing of it.

Interested in yoga for over 50? We’ve put together a guide to yoga for over 50 – 10 health benefits of yoga.

Try a gym near you for free

The best place to start is testing the gym, which provides the perfect chance to really see if it works for your own needs. Many offer free trials, from 1, 2 and 3-day passes to free guest passes, so get asking your friends so you can try it out! Large gym chains such as DW Fitness First and Nuffield Health offer these incentives, with hundreds of locations across the country. While there, talk to other members to get their thoughts. Most members will be more than happy to share their experiences and opinions of the gym.

Remember though that the gym is a business and will do their utmost to try and sign you up. However, you are under no obligation to do so with such free trials.

Gym locations and opening hours

Make sure the gym is accessible and that you can reach easily by walking or a quick drive, otherwise the long distances can be off-putting, meaning you’ll likely not go and will incur all the extra costs and time lost from the long travel.

Timings can also lead to cost-effectiveness and convenience. Most open from the early morning till evening, however, selected ‘off-peak’ hours, can be considerably cheaper. If you visit during lunch or the holidays you can keep well within budget, so make sure the gym has the times you want so you can suit your schedule.

Gym facilities

While there’s a noticeable shift towards gyms catering for the over 50s, not all gyms are geared to such change. It’s important to make inquiries as to the state of facilities, whether by visiting, calling or online reviews.

First-hand experience is as good as any route to determine whether the facilities meet your individual requirements. Does the gym offer what you are looking for, whether that be a pool and spa, tennis and squash courts or studios to accommodate exercise classes? Some questions you may like answered might be, whether the pool is heated, whether there is sufficient weight-training equipment and the frequency of different exercise classes.

Additionally, you want to feel safe and comfortable during your time, so don’t forget the basics such as changing rooms, lockers and the general maintenance of the gym. Ask questions and look for yourself. Established gyms will have cleaners to make sure the general environment is clean, but make sure surfaces and equipment have been wiped down and all the machines are in good working condition.

The gym can also pave the way for some shopping! Attached specialist sports shops can be extremely important for those who suffer from injuries or simply want some protection. Take trainers for example, whether it be for running, tennis or tai chi, it is important that your shoes have the right grip and shock absorption. Body protection such as padding and general sportswear can be also purchased here, that are specifically designed for aiding issues such as joint pain.

Gym equipment

Look to see that the gym offers a wide range of exercise equipment so you can reap the benefits of different activities. Treadmills and exercise bikes for cardiovascular, weight machines for strength training and losing weight, and mats and medicine balls for stretching. A good gym will have a balanced combination of everything for you to get into, so make sure they have what you like and some new things for you to try your hand at.

However, when it comes to the dreaded weights, many of us shy away. Nevertheless, its importance cannot be underestimated, especially for over 50s in strengthening muscles and bones whilst burning fat, even if you start gently! This requires facilities that cater for a wide variety of exercise, especially weight machines for beginners, as opposed to free-weights such as dumbbells. This is much safer if instructed correctly. Many gyms now provide state of the art machines, targeting anywhere on your body from the back and shoulders, legs to the arms.

Classes when searching for ‘gyms near me’

You should look for the availability of a good variety of classes to get involved in. This can be from yoga to cycling to dance, whatever your interest, and make sure there are the number of classes at the time you want. Look to booklets, information leaflets and ask the staff to help describe what the classes can offer you.

Gym staff and personal trainers

When choosing a gym, also consider the staff. It is important to see a friendly and helpful face to set a positive tone and help you get the best from the experience. A good example is an induction; where you are eased into gym life, with instructors touring the facilities and explaining equipment to really get you going.

To get the most from your gym exercise, it is important to hone a fitness programme to an individual’s ability, balancing cardiovascular, weight-training and stretching. This is where a personal trainer comes in, something which the majority of established gyms these days provide. In minimising risks and providing tailored programmes, you can seek specialist help from those who have chosen to train, so they are qualified to work with senior members.

Many trainers can target specific injuries, from those with experience in cardiovascular to balancing. Picking the right trainer for you is just as important. Trust and support is necessary, especially when providing medical and family histories to target workouts, so make sure you are happy.

A personal trainer can help you get more from using a gym. Read our guide Find a personal trainer: hiring a personal trainer.

Finding the right culture in gyms near me

It is often easy to overlook the social aspect of joining the gym. Nonetheless, finding a gym near you is a great way to meet new people, where you can discover a thriving social scene, with gyms offering competitions such as leagues to group classes. Make sure this scene is to your tastes, gyms can attract all types of people, such as particularly family-orientated and kid-friendly locations. Therefore, ensure you feel comfortable in this environment and enjoy your time, a lot of this can depend on the people around you.

From a purely motivational perspective, friends can provide the much needed encouragement that physical exercise often requires. Planning future workouts with new or existing friends can add a little more extra incentive to get out of the door and go to the gym.

Furthermore, if you are going to the gym alone, but want to make friends, striking up a conversation with a stranger can seem unnerving to start. However, going to a gym is a great way to meet like-minded people. This can forge friendships within the local vicinity, simply through a friendly smile. Exercise classes provide a friendly and approachable option; this is especially true of specific age-based groups ranging from yoga to dancing.

Deals when looking for ‘gyms near me’

Upon picking the gym that is right for you there are many interesting choices to get the best deal possible. One option is using a medium such as MoveGB. Instead of settling on one chain, this provides access to 1000s of selected gyms, pools and classes all over the country. Costs start from just £1 per week for membership, and registration is simple.

One of the tricks of the trade is the recognition that gyms are commission-driven and so their sales teams are subject to a bit of negotiation.In the art of haggling it’s important not to settle for a standard package. You should be able to cut down the price, especially when staff need to hit numbers near month end. MoneySavers’ research has determined that chains such as Fitness First are prime candidates to haggle with.

If you are in employment, another option may be to discover any links to nearby gyms. Get in contact with HR, who may be able to direct you towards certain subsidised deals, often for first-class gyms that companies have a relationship with. This is a sure-fire way to slice off some more money.

Making a gym workout fun

Most importantly is to choose a gym that you enjoy and feel safe in, and the classes and environment is fun. Having fun is more likely to foster regular visits to the gym, leading to healthier and fitter you. Look to find a gym near you that provides all the facilities and services that match your own needs, whilst fostering a friendly culture for a cheap price. Get down to your local gyms and take advantage of the free trials to decide what is best for you and let the results speak for themselves!