Wellness centers (also referred to as fitness centers or gyms) can help you get healthy, lose weight, learn life skills and escape life’s daily stresses. A new year means a new you and a new chance to get fit, in both mind and body. Masonic Villages’ wellness staff from across the state, including the Baird Wellness Center in Elizabethtown, have shared the top things to look for when joining a wellness center:

  1. Location, location, location. The location of the wellness center is very important because if it is not convenient, you will not make the time to go. Choose a place that is easy to get to, so there are no excuses.
  2. You want to shop around and find a wellness center that meets your budget. If you want more amenities, like a swimming pool, it may cost you more money.
  3. Specials. Many gyms offer promotions at key times of the year, like in January. There are opportunities for discount memberships for seniors, such as the SilverSneakers® program, where you can participate in classes for free based on your health insurance coverage. Many gyms also offer a free session where a trainer will show you around and give you the basics on how to use the machines. Take advantage of this time to ensure you know what you’re doing. Ask about personal trainers’ availability.
  4. Ease of payments. All gyms operate in different ways, but you’ll likely have to sign a contract and pay a certain amount of money each month via a credit card.
  5. Group fitness class variety. Fitness classes can provide great motivation and help you achieve your goals faster than you would alone.
  6. Wellness services/programs. Some wellness centers go beyond just fitness, offering massage, chiropractic care, nutrition, acupuncture and more. Make sure you ask about it!
  7. Staff. Friendly, attentive and qualified staff are important. You want to have people who you trust to give you good advice and also to make sure you are doing your workouts safely. Don’t be afraid to ask for staff credentials. Depending on the services they offer, staff should be certified in group fitness, personal training, nutrition and exercise; have degrees in exercise physiology, exercise science or health education; or be a certified wellness coach or wellness director.
  8. Hours of operation. Double-check to make sure the gym is available for the times and days you want to work out.
  9. What type of equipment are you looking to use? Cardiovascular? Strength training? Dumbbells? What do they have? How much do they have? Every place is different, so make sure you check it out on a tour.
  10. Atmosphere. This needs to be a good “fit” for you. Do you feel comfortable and welcomed? Are you looking for television or music to listen to while you work out? The environment should fit your personality/goals and comfort level with the staff and other customers. You always want the gym to be clean and well kept, too. You should have access to cleaning wipes to wipe down machines before/after you use them to prevent germs from spreading. The changing rooms should be clean, too.

You ultimately want to choose a center you have a good feeling about and offers you all the things you’re looking for within your budget, while allowing you to exercise and improve your fitness level – and still have fun doing it!