Five Things to Consider When Choosing an Off-Post Gym
As military families we have a lot of amenities afforded to us. Unfortunately, for those of us who decide to live off post, these amenities can be hard to utilize on a regular basis. Driving into the military installation is okay for some things like a weekly visit to the commissary, but others things, like a daily gym visit, might send us out to look at civilian options.
Even if you do live on post, or don't mind the commute, some spouses prefer to use civilian gyms. Maybe the gyms on post don't have the equipment you like, or perhaps you like to work out during PT time and you can't get anything done with a full gym.
Whatever your reason to get your sweat on off-post, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your new gym:
- Location - One of the big reasons many decide to pay for a gym off post rather than go to one on post is that it's too far away. Bearing that in mind, scope out the location for your off-post gym with the same scrutiny. Don't go for the fancy one that has a pool you'll never use or the brand new one that's across town. You'll be more likely to visit the one that's down the street from your house or on your way to work or your kids' school.
- Price - Only pay for what you need. Civilian gyms come in all shapes and sizes and offer all sorts of different features. If you are only looking for a gym to frequent when the weather is bad and you can't run outside then you won't need much more than some decent treadmills. Again, don't be swayed by the high speed gym that's usually accompanied with a high price tag. Also, If you need a facility with childcare, make sure you factor their rates into your cost.
- Corporate vs. Small Business - Although many of us don't think about it, there are often small local gyms in addition to the big corporate chains that we are used to seeing. There are some differences between the two and it's good to decide which feel you like better. A corporate gym is likely to have familiar policies and competitive rates. You can get your workout in and get out quickly, usually remaining anonymous, and often anytime of day or night. If you prefer belonging to a gym that has more community feel (and need someone to ask where you've been when you haven't been in for over a week) then look towards a small business. A local gym usually has fewer members so the staff and other gym members are more likely to know each other. However, they can be a bit more pricy and have more limited hours.
- Contract - Most gyms, corporate or small business, have you sign some sort of contract when you sign up. Some key things to note about the contract are the payment form (draft, mail, or in-person), duration (monthly, annual), and cancellation fees (moving or otherwise).
- Military Cancellation Clause - This goes without saying but, more than likely you're going to move before your contract is up. Although most places in a military town recognize the unique nature of their patrons and don't charge a fee, it’s smart to ask. Some corporate chains will only cancel a membership for free if you are moving more than so many miles away from any of their facilities, so just be sure to check.
Do you use a military fitness facility or a civilian gym? Why?