Things to Consider When Evaluating a Gym
Whether you’ve just relocated to a different part of the country and are looking to find a new fitness home, you’re traveling for work and just need a solid place to drop into for a WOD, or it’s your first time making good on your New Years fitness resolution to get back into fighting shape but you aren’t sure where to begin, it can be challenging if not a bit overwhelming to sift through all of your options.
Before joining a gym, we would encourage you to observe a class or two, attend some sessions, and connect with the Head Coach / Trainer for some pointed Q&A to find out a bit more about their methodology, their rationale & approach, and learn about whether or not they would be the right fit to meet your needs.
At the end of the day, there are many great gyms out there, each with their own approach, atmosphere, and style.
Not every gym will be the best fit for you, but they can still be an excellent place to train for others. Some, however, might have some red flags to look out for.
The following are general domains we recommend as a resource in the mindful evaluation of any gym:
Class Structure: Are classes conducted professionally? Is there absolute clarity from staff about what is being presented to & asked of participants? Is there an appropriate, well-run, task-specific warmup for the day of training? Are instructors consistent in time management, programming explanation, & coaching feedback?
Coaching Development: What level of training have the coaching staff received? Does their education surpass mandatory minimum requirements? What is their reputation and what do members have to say about the quality & execution of their training? How does the gym encourage continued coaches development & education?
Athlete Training Oversight: Does the gym provide a beginner’s introductory on-boarding program for new members before attending mixed-level classes? How well do the trainers provide guidelines to meet the needs of both novice & seasoned athletes? Do their coaches only seem to tell athletes to “keep going,” “go heavier,” and “push harder” or do they effectively discuss pacing & guide daily scaling to preserve the intended training stimulus for athletes of every level? Are the coaches able to provide appropriate modifications as needed for those still developing mastery of high-skill, advanced movements, or those with specific movement restrictions? How do the coaches guide & communicate when athletes need to scale? How effectively do the coaches engage in actual instruction, coaching, and correction versus cheerleading? How does the gym educate its athletes off the floor & outside of class?
Programming Design: Is the strength & conditioning programming random or intentionally crafted? Does the coaching staff fully understand the rationale for training every day, and can they convey purpose & function to their athletes? Does the gym conflate "effective" training with daily brutal workouts? Is there a method that follows a well-defined micro-, meso-, and macro training structure with specific focus & goals?
Managing Burnout, Mitigating Injury Risk, & Preventing Performance Plateaus: Does the gym put everyone on a single roadmap, or do coaches strategize with individual athletes around their goals & needs? What is the injury rate of athletes at their gym, and how is it managed? What is the drop-off rate of athletes? How systematically does the gym evaluate athlete progress? How does their gym continue to build fitness in their athletes after the novice stage?
Personal Vibe & Atmosphere: Does the gym feel like a positive, safe, supportive place for you to train? Are staff & members welcoming of newcomers? Are the members engaged in their training and with their gym in a way that you see yourself comfortably participating? Does the gym set a culture of healthy interpersonal boundaries?
Member Investment: How does the gym demonstrate its continued investment in improving the training value & experience of their members? What services, education, and/or other extra miles do the gym & staff go through to support their athletes? Are coaches and/or management available to connect with athletes before/after class, via email, or for in-person dialogue as needed?
Logistics, Conveniences, Bells & Whistles: Do they provide a reliable class schedule, and do the class times work for you? How reasonable is the commute from my office/home for me to achieve a consistent training rhythm? Does the facility provide showers / a changing room? Is the gym clean & well-organized? Is there storage for member’s personal gear? Do members have access to all specialized equipment, or does the gym invest in equipment that can only be used by staff or certain athletes? How well-outfitted is the gym? What is the condition of the training equipment used? Is there parking or public transport conveniently available?
What people are saying about Tectonic: