Introduction to Gym


What is a gym?

A gym - physical exercises and activities performed inside, often using equipment, especially when done as a subject at school. Gymnasium is a large room with equipment for exercising the body and increasing strength or a club where you can go to exercise and keep fit.

A gym is a gymnasium, also known as health club and fitness centre. Gymnasiums have moved away just being a location for gymnastics. Where they had gymnastics apparatus such as bar bells, parallel bars, jumping boards and running path etc.

If you are looking to join a gymnastics club, please see gymnastics.

A health club, fitness centre is now commonly referred to as a gym.

Choosing the right gym for you

Most gyms have a wide range of ages and levels of fitness. Don’t buy into the preconception that it will be full of supreme athletes!


 Before joining any gym, it is highly recommended that you shop around and go on a visit before joining up. You should check joining options, no joining fee, pay-as-go, free trail periods, no joining fee, First  month free, corporation discounts and off peak discounts. Avoid long term agreements which can tie you into an agreement for anything between 1-3 years!

If you are looking for a specialised class – men only, woman only or seniors etc check the gym offers this. Gyms that do offer these tend to also have specialised programs for the target market. Aquasize classes for seniors by way of an example.

During your tour you should ask about any special offers?

How many members do they currently have? (As overcrowding can result in you waiting for equipment)

What are the busy times?  Try to avoid peak times as again you may have to wait for equipment.

Also check equipment, Facilities and staff.

Induction day

It is important to arrange an induction day prior to you starting to use the gym. This is for your own safety, as misuse of equipment may not just leave you feeling embarrassed but could result in injury. Every gym will offer an induction day.

Induction days vary from gym to gym, but should ideally include an initial 1-2-1 health and fitness consultation. Your instructor should familiarise you with all gym equipment. Some provide initial exercise programs and regular follow up consultations and reviews.

It is important to choose a gym that facilitates for your needs, make sure the gym provides a clean, safe and friendly environment that you can fit into.

What can I expect?

Free weights

Gyms have a main work out area which tends to be divided into a free weights section including dumbbells, bar bells. They may also have exercise machines with free weights or more commonly exercise machines will have their own section.


The Cardiovascular area with have machines including treadmills (running machines), rowing machines, exercise bikes (stationary).


Classes are group sessions and separate room from the cardio and free weights. Examples of group class exercise include aerobics, Spin (cycling on a stationary bike), boxercise, high intensity training (HIT) and yoga.

Personal training

Staff members tend to be qualified personal trainers or the club will tend to be able to put you in contact with a personal trainer who will devise a training plan and dietary advice to achieve your goals.


Facilities can vary greatly from gym to gym. Not just on a broad range of cardiovascular equipment including:

Treadmills, Rowers, stationary bikes, cross trainers, versa climbers (step machines), steppers, and rowing machines.

Resistance training equipment including:

Fixed weight machines, dumbbells, barbells and weight plates.

 Also clean toilets, changing and shower rooms and exercise mats, stability balls and space to exercise.

When choosing your gym you should check there is a number of the equipment you feel you will use more. If you are going to focus on free weight training (dumbbells etc) check they have multiple sets. On weight machines check they have setting from minimal weight to maximum weight to suit your capabilities. Also check have they been maintained and in good condition. If you are going to mainly use of cardio machines again check they have been well maintained, check they have adequate number of machines compared to gym members.

Larger gyms also may have studio classes, sports and injury therapy. Sports shop, juice bars, cafe and restaurant. Swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam rooms. Tennis, squash and badminton courts. Some gyms also offer child care facilities.


You may want to take into account the distance from your home and or work. As the further away it is the less convenient it may become.

Opening hours

Many have different preferences for when they like to train from early birds at 7 and 7 am till late at night when the gyms empty and you have no distractions. Opening hours is again something you may need to consider depending on your other commitments, child care, working hours etc. Also check weekend opening hours. Gym opening and closing times vary greatly with some of the larger open 6am till 11pm. Some gyms are now 24 hours! Also check holiday open hours.


Members of staff do tend to be fit and healthy, smartly dressed in corporate clothing. They should be happy to explain and demonstrate whenever necessary. They should have knowledge across a wide range of exercise disciplines and many are also personal trainers. When you are on you initial visit look out for if the staff are helping and advising all members or only willing to advise clients who have paid for additional personal training session. You should check on staff qualifications and also view feedback from previous clients. Some memberships come with a specific training schedule designed to achieve your goals.

What are the benefits of going to a gym?

Regular exercise helps control weight when use with a balanced diet. Regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, and certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls. Regular training helps reduce stress and improves moods. Regular weight training can improve muscle mass.