A sports center can offer you more than just a space to get your daily dose of exercise. If you choose the right one, it can be a place to connect with your body, improve your mental health, form a community, and even engage in some healthy athletic competition.
Below, we offer some tips to help you pin down what you’re looking for in a club, so that you can pick the one that’s perfect for you.
If you’re still not sure what sport you want to play, choosing one (or various) must-have sports for your club is a good first step. If you decide you want to play tennis, you can automatically rule out the clubs with enticing frills and amenities, but no tennis!
When choosing a sport, consider whether you prefer to practice alone or with a team. The benefit of an individual sport like running track or swimming is that you can make your own training schedule, without having to coordinate times with other people.
Of course, if you’re interested in the social aspect of joining a sports center, you might like the idea of being part of a team.
Another factor to take into account when choosing a sport is your current physical condition and the level of exertion you’re up for. If you’re recovering from an injury, you might opt for a low-impact sport like swimming or yoga. Check out action sports centers in your area if you’re looking for something more intense!
Who do you want to work out with? If you’re young and looking for some fierce competition, you might not want a sports club that caters mostly to seniors. And if you’re looking to play a casual game of volleyball, maybe don’t join a club where Olympians train. Student sports centers can be a good option for university students.
Family sports centers
If you have kids, you may want to look into family sports centers in your area. Sports centers that offer childcare can be a lifesaver for parents. Some of these centers even have fitness classes designed for kids and their parents, like “mommy and me” yoga. (Wondering what to wear? Grab some leggings or read our full guide to yoga clothes.)
Opening hours and proximity
Before becoming a member of a sports center, it’s a good idea to think about which days and at what times you’d be able to go. If you work long hours, you might be limited to clubs that close late or open before the crack of dawn.
Also pay attention to the club’s weekend hours. If the weekends are the time you’re most likely to want to do sports, it’d be a bummer to remember that the club you signed up for is closed all day on Sundays.
Pro tip: if the sports center offers a trial period, make sure to use it during a time that you’re normally free. That way, you can see how crowded it might be at the time you’d be going. And if you’re interested in joining a sports center that offers group fitness classes, don’t forget to check the schedule for those too.
Studies have shown that people go more frequently to exercise centers that are close to their house. So distance is another factor to keep in mind. You might find the sports center of your dreams, but if you have to commute 45 minutes to get there, how often will you really take advantage of it?
Staff, cleanliness, and amenities
Friendly staff, a clean facility, and the presence of amenities like saunas can really enhance your experience at a sports center. Take note of these when you visit the club (or, if there’s no way to try the center before signing up, at least scour their online reviews for information about these three factors).
Of course, try to be realistic about which features you’ll really use and enjoy, and how much they’re worth to you. You’ll see the luxury amenities reflected in the monthly rate of the club. How much more are you willing to pay for a center with massage therapy?
It’s exciting to sign up for a new sports center and imagine the positive influence it’ll have on your life. No one wants to think about the possibility that, after joining, you realize it’s not the right fit for you.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but just in case, it’s always a good idea to ask about the center’s refund and cancellation policy so you don’t end up paying for something you’re not satisfied with.
No matter where you end up going to practice sports, remember to have fun and enjoy the mood-boosting power of movement!