1. What type of atmosphere does your gym have?
If you're a beast and plan on getting bigger you don't want to be working out with a bunch of women and pansies. You want to surround yourself around other large bodies; not only will it motivate you to work harder but you will have more in common with the members around you.
2. What type of equipment do you have?
If you plan on getting big you need to make sure the gym has all the free weight equipment that you will need. Make sure to see what the heaviest dumbbells are and that there are more then enough benches to accommodate everyone during peak hours.
3. How old is the equipment?
Like any other technology, exercise equipment is constantly changing.
4. When is the gym open?
Definitely check the hours, make sure the club offers hours that make it easy to fit the gym into your schedule. Visit at peak hours to see just how jammed it can get. Look at equipment, look at rooms, make sure it's not going to be so crowded that you have to wait a half hour for a piece of equipment. Then visit again at the times you're most likely to work out, that way you get to see the gym as it likely will be when you're packing on the pounds.
Also take note of the parking when you're there. You want to make visiting the gym is as easy as possible, especially on those days you might be a little less motivated. When you want to go in and work out nothing is worse than driving around in circles looking for place to park.
5. Is a contract required?
If so, check out the terms carefully, says Joe Decker, co-author of "The World's Fittest You."
"Do not get roped into an extended contract," he says. Decker speaks from experience. The general manager of Level Fitness, a Washington D.C.-area gym, he still feels the burn from having three months left on his contract with another facility. "It's not the money," he says. "It's just the point that I can't get out of it."
6. Will the club waive the initiation fee?
Sometimes gyms charge initiation fees that can be hundreds or thousands of dollars. But they often waive or reduce them, especially if you're shopping around and know what other facilities are charging. The initiation fee is there for them to barter with, so don't just accept it.
7. Does the gym offer a trial membership?
Try the facility before you buy, I would say two weeks is fair. This is the time to test drive the offerings that really interest you. Are their lines to use equipment? Are the classes that you want to take offered when you're available to attend? When you try out the gym in real life conditions you will see how it is really like.
8. Are staff members degreed or certified?
Some places will take a warm body and throw them in there, there are no set standard. Look for certification from the American College of Sports Medicine or the American Council on Exercise or degrees in related fields, such as kinesiology, exercise science or sports medicine. And make sure instructors are also trained in CPR and first aid. If you find a place where everyone is certified or has a degree, it's probably a pretty decent place.