Top 10 Signs of A Good Gym

Top 10 Signs of a Good Gym
I broke up with my gym. My friend Brianne, who recently shared her story, knows how much I’ve hated this Astoria gym because she at one time was a member. The convenience of this gym’s facility was most appealing to me. In New York, we judge everything by two things: 1. How far a location is from home/work. 2. How close said location is to a subway stop. My award-winning gym was three blocks from my apartment, and just happens to be right next to my subway stop. This Astoria gym’s facility is beautiful and affordably priced at $59 per month. But alas, I just could not get over how poorly the gym was managed nor the rude staff.

I went in Friday to discontinue my membership and was directed to the office where either J (a man) or V (a woman) would assist me. I turned the corner and only saw one woman, who just happened to be V (she didn’t say hello) and she also happened to be the rude receptionist I’ve had to tolerate for three years.

One summer in college I was the front desk receptionist at a Washington Sports Club. That summer, I learned that most people, even those who actually go to the gym, don’t want to be at the gym. I also learned that the attitude of the receptionist determines how a person’s workout will go. Their words are the first things guests hear upon entering the gym, and the last thing they hear when they leave.

LGC Tip For Gyms: Your front desk person is not just a receptionist. S/he is the face of your company. Don’t assign (or hire) anyone, like V, who doesn’t smile, say hello/goodbye, or just looks inconvenienced when they’re to do their job.

So as I hunt for a new gym, I tread lightly. I did just get out of a long term relationship of sorts. I’m allowed to take my time and test the water. I’m determined to not be fooled by shiny facilities, marketing verbiage, or awards again so I’ve come up with a checklist of sorts — my top 10 signs of a good gym for those looking for a new gym or evaluating their current one.


1. Good Front Desk Experience – Do you feel welcomed? Does the team who manages the front desk seem welcoming, genuine, and kind? Do they make you want to come back? Do they make you smile as you head your way to the weight room? This is the same as any other office setting. Imagine if the receptionist at your office, or the doctor’s office, was rude?

2. Management is Visible – Do you know who runs the place? Are they approachable? Do they make themselves accessible should you have any concerns? At some gyms, management and staff are dressed in business-casual attire because the gym is their work place!

3. Trial Period – Any good gym is confident that once you’re in the door you’ll want to stay. If a gym doesn’t give you a decent trial period (at least a week, or even better, a month), they’re not worth your time.

4. Quality of Equipment – Quality always over quantity in my opinion. Is the equipment in good condition? Is the equipment stored neatly or is there no organization? The equipment doesn’t have to be the best, the most expensive, or even new, but is it in good condition?

5. Locker Room Chatter – What are people saying about the staff and the instructors in the locker room? A good instructor or trainer has people talking and spreading the gospel.

6. Amenities – Is there shampoo, conditioner, and lotion? I’m not impressed. If there’s deodorant, face wash, hair ties, hair spray, Q-tips, or gum, now you’re talking.

7. On Schedule – Do classes begin and end on time? If not, the management and staff don’t value your time.

8. Communication – Do you ever hear from your gym when they’re not raising your monthly membership? Good gyms send you snail-mail or e-mails on how they’re improving the gym by adding classes, hiring outstanding instructors, partnering with other reputable fitness brands, or offering you discounts on personal training sessions or massages.

9. Lounge – Is there a lounge, juice bar, or sitting area at the gym? A lounge creates a welcoming environment. A good gym not only creates a good workout environment, but one that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Do you want to stay at the gym a bit longer after the workout? Do you want to grab a fresh juice or smoothie? You should almost feel at home at the gym. You’re more likely to come back!

10. The Last Push – when and if there comes a time when you go in to end your gym membership (for whatever the reason), is there an effort to keep you? Unless you are moving or have a medical condition that keeps you from go to the gym, there is no reason a gym shouldn’t work to keep your patronage. They can lower your rate, recommend a different location, or hook you up with a free training session.

You may notice that most of these tips are people-related and have nothing to do with the facilities.

Gyms fail because they fail to understand that they sell customer-service, not just the facilities themselves.

Customer service is the root of any good business. Especially in the days of social media.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you love/hate your gym and why? What should I look for in my next gym and do you have any recommendations in the NYC area? I’m willing to pay more to get more.

Note: I purposely did not list this gym’s name. The purpose of my blog is to encourage excellence, not to defame.

Photo Credit: ABC News

  • Holly

    After reading this, think I need to break up with my gym too! They kinda suck now that I’m thinking about it. Maybe that’s why I never go and end up just buying Flywheel classes!

    • I noticed that too, Holly. On top of my gym membership, I found myself taking Soul Cycle, yoga, running in the park, and plenty of other classes outside the gym. I think I’m considering not having a gym for a while. We’ll see how that works out!

  • Great post! I do believe that often (not always), you get what you pay for – either in service or facilities. And hopefully, at the higher end clubs, both! I had a membership at NYSC for 8 of the 9 years I lived in NYC and I couldn’t believe how much I paid for that membership. In my opinion, they lacked nice facilities (usually dirty and broken equipment) and service (management was incredibly unresponsive and most of the desk people couldn’t have cared less). I’ve dreamed of owning my own gym because I know exactly how I would run it given my less than stellar experiences at NYSC and the great experiences I’ve had at small boutique studios. Now if I could only get the financial backing! 😉

    • Lisa – I used to be a member of NYSC as well, and I wasn’t impressed either. I agree that their cleanliness and equipment were not up to par and I paid more for NYSC than I did for this gym in Astoria. Astoria’s gym offered me AT LEAST a clean facility, decent equipment, and a variety of classes. Management just was not great. I’m with you, I think we could run a great gym together. We just have to find a back who will invest in NYC AND Denver.

  • Great post! Although I still have 4 more months before baby #2 arrives I’m still excited to get back on my fitness. I was running when I got pregnant then stopped and now just dashing around the city is my exercise but I did join a Blink Fitness that was slated to open in my area in December but is now pushed to April. This delay has already put a bad taste in my mouth about the gym, but I’m going to try to stay optimistic and check it out in a few weeks to see how it is. The best gym I ever had a membership to was when I was in Boston and attended Healthworks a female only gym which had a wonderful greeter (I agree that makes a difference!). Coming from 9 years of single sex education I really wanted to stick to a female environment especially for the gym and I loved what an oasis it was for me. I went 5 days a week at 5a.m. for two years (yes, that was before husband and babies!). Can’t wait to get back on track!

    • Quiana – I am so impressed and inspired by your dedication. 5 days a week at 5 am! I love that you’re still active even during your pregnancy. You are the kind of mom i want to be one day.