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Finding the right family fitness club to build healthy habits for your kids

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Too much available screen time for today’s youngsters can lead to them leading sedentary lifestyles. So much so, worried parents are trying out a new fitness trend: the family fitness club. Rather than letting video games dominate most of their children’s free time, parents are encouraging them to break sweat and exercise alongside them to develop healthier habits.

Increasingly, gym centres are offering special, colourful family-only training rooms, where parents and their kids can take part in activities such as high-energy dance routines, jumping in sync, as well as running relay races. What should you look out for when hunting for the ideal fitness club for you and the rest of the family?

Family fitness classes are not so much like a routine gym session. They are more fun, interactive and cross-generational – for kids, parents and even grandparents alike. For the kids, it often feels like they’re inside their favourite computer games. It’s the smartest way to prise children away from their hi-tech devices and avoid potential computer games addiction.

How do you scope out the ideal family fitness club? Firstly, make it number one on your priority list to look for a place where everyone in your brood feels (to a considerable degree) at home.

While a gym isn’t necessarily a private place - unless of course it’s a home gym - it’s still somewhere people expect to feel safe and comfortable enough to accomplish their fitness goals.

Professional trainers, who have undergone all the personal training courses, make it their job to ensure that everyone in the gym feels absolutely secure, confident and safe, whilst working hard towards achieving their goals. As a rule of thumb, avoid fitness centers if you notice any of these signs:

  1. Low patronage.

Do fewer families feel inclined to use their facilities? This is very likely due to the fact they don’t feel comfortable or welcome at the centre. People will generally opt for a gym with a more welcoming atmosphere.

  1. Bad reputation

Professional gym centres and personal trainers should take their reputation seriously, as it is the fastest and best way to sell their skills to the right audience and boost their rating and career.

3. Attracting the wrong crowd

Birds of a feather do flock together. If a centre doesn’t treat complaints promptly or look out for bullying or harassment, expect to attract a very specific crowd - one distasteful to gym space.

So how can you tell a gym centre is ideal for you and the kids?

It often comes down to the small details and how the trainer helps to make everyone safe, comfortable and feeling at home. Here are just a few considerations:

A good location and cost

For suitable family gym centers, location should be a prime concern. Think about close proximity to the place you where live. If it’s not that close to your home, it will likely be hard work getting there on a regular basis.

What about the cost? Does it match the facilities? Do they have dumbells, treadmills, weight machines and spacious stretching areas that are ideal for both adults and kids? Do they have a pool, child care and locker rooms? Are they flexible with costs and allow you to choose the equipment you need? Yes, keeping fit doesn’t come cheap, but it shouldn’t cost you a fortune.

They have a clear policy on gym rules and behaviors

Make sure they have policies that make it clear to every visitor that no form of bullying, harassment, or impolite treatment of others will be tolerated. To ensure every member gets the message, do they put up notices in clearly visible and strategic locations all around the building to remind attendees to always behave appropriately?

When individuals or family groups sign up to benefit from their fitness expertise, gym instructors are to give each and every member a clearly worded document to sign. This document should clearly state that harassment will not be tolerated and by signing it, the client agrees to be bound by these rules.

To ensure there is no ‘wiggle room’, the centre often clearly states in the agreement what counts as harassment in your gym. It should also go on to cover any other form of harassment that was not specifically mentioned. There should also be a reporting mechanism, so that anyone who feels harassed (or that has suffered harassment) should be able to easily report such an incident to the gym’s management.

3. They have convenient opening hours for the whole family

You have to consider everyone’s schedule, including your kids, and be sure that the gym hours fit well and tie in with when the whole family plans to work out. Does the gym centre allow flexibility or limited hours? If you’re unsure whether your nearest, professional gym centre runs a family fitness club, you should ask if they have family membership to accommodate your spouse and children. This will probably help you save extra costs.

4. Check to see if the club has emergency procedures

The first instinct of most parents is to see if the centre is professional and the staff are qualified. Even more important is to find out if the trainers can handle an emergency if one occurs.

Well-trained fitness instructors don’t just know how to coach you with regards using the facilities, they’ll also know the first thing to do in any life-threatening situation. Always ask if the club has an automated external defibrillator (AED), which works like a first aid kit before paramedics arrive for any medical emergency.

Finally, check to see if the center has a reciprocity agreement with other centers, especially if you and your family regularly take family vacations. If the gym club is a member of a respected international health and fitness association, you’ll likely also have access to that association’s clubs or fitness centers in other towns and cities.

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