If you're like many other Canadians, chances are you've added a gym membership to your 2017 resolutions. Unfortunately, not all gyms are created equal. Some look like they haven't been updated since the '70s, while others have a sauna and juice bar but no one to teach you how to use the machines. Here's what to look for so you avoid these pitfalls and have a great workout:
A mix of equipment
Experts agree the most effective workouts combine strength and cardio, and switching up your routine is a great way to overcome plateaus. Choose a gym that has a good mix of cardio equipment and weight-training options. A good selection includes treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, stability balls and pullup bars.
Most modern gym machines will have pictures showing you the right way to use the equipment. Pay attention to these - using machines incorrectly is a fast way to injure yourself. In addition, your gym should have plenty of staff on hand to answer any questions about the equipment you may have.
Classes that suit you
If climbing a treadmill by yourself is too intimidating, you might benefit from group classes. An instructor sets the pace, so not only can you hide in the back row until you feel confident, but you won't be tempted to slack off. Don't feel pressure to succumb to the latest fitness trend - a gentle stretch and strengthen group can be just as beneficial as an intense weightlifting or SoulCycle class.
Make sure your gym has qualified trainers and instructors with necessary certification teaching, not some average Joe. A bad instructor can push you into doing something that actually hurts your body.
No pushy salespeople
The last thing you want while you're in the middle of a workout is for a salesperson to tap you on the shoulder and try to get you to buy a premium package or training session. Many gyms ban independent personal trainers from soliciting, but those who work for the branch are free to bug you to their heart's content. Read the fine print of your membership agreement to ensure your workouts won't be interrupted.
Clean locker rooms
Unless your gym is next door to your home, you'll need a locker room - not a bathroom - to change. Lockers also provide a place to store your valuables so you don't have to leave them in the car or hog valuable floor space. Look for rooms that are well-maintained and consistently stocked.
Few things are more uncomfortable than touching a sweaty piece of gym equipment. Your branch should have plenty of sanitary wipes available for before and after you use a machine.