How To Choose the Right Health and Fitness Option


If you are starting (or thinking about starting) a journey toward improved health and fitness, use this guide to help you choose a gym that will support you and make sure you’re successful.

We care so much about our clients at Brickhouse. Each one has a special journey, and some of them have been training with us for years while others are brand new.

We have a great vision for the future and it’s unlike anything else going on in the Roanoke Valley right now. A transformation center for life-saving health and fitness, which happens to be located inside a gym. There’s something special happening on Salem Ave. downtown.

But it’s not for everyone. People have different goals and ideas for their fitness. We get that. And we still want to help.

For those who are looking for a gym, a coach, a fresh start, looking to get healthy and fit, we’re determined to help you find one that fits you best: even if it’s not us! We want you to accomplish all your goals and thrive. Read on.

This article can also help Roanoke people who are looking at their options in making a decision on what to try first.

When asked for gym recommendations in other cities, we always look for certain things and then relay the gym’s name to the person with our recommendation. We’ve realized that we can offer more to everyone if we publish our standards publicly. By doing so, we’ll help our members make decisions, we’ll help new folks make choices, and we’ll tell the local community what we expect from them. Everyone will be on the same page.

We’re not going to hold back here: We’ve set the bar high. And guess what? We’re still improving here at Brickhouse; we don’t meet the gold standard in every category but we have the awareness and desire to get there. Your gym should too.

So what should you look for in your new gym? How do you know if it’s the right fit for you? What should you avoid?

We want you to look for excellence, and your gym to be striving for it.

Your Goals

Your gym should care first and foremost about your goals.

When you get there, they should sit down with you personally and find out who you are and what you want to accomplish (this meeting can happen online, too). Before they throw you into a free workout, they should know your history and your goals. And you don’t need a facility tour right away. All gyms look the same: The barbells are over there. They also don’t need to tell you about their communities. All gym communities are special.

At intake, the focus must be on your goals. Be selfish.

Here are questions you should be asked:

  • How long have you been exercising?
  • Any injuries or mobility issues?
  • What was your most recent success and what are you working on right now?
  • What do you want to accomplish? Why (The more “Why’s” the better)
  • What’s your timeline for accomplishing this goal?
  • How’s your nutrition?
  • Do you prefer to work out in a group or one-on-one with a coach?
  • What do you need from a gym and its coaches? How can we help you succeed?

It doesn’t matter what the gym looks like, how much space it has or if they have a “great atmosphere.” It’s all about you. Other gyms want you. Make them earn your business.

If you are not offered an appointment to talk about your goals, ask for one. Can’t get one, move on. If the coach doesn’t ask you a lot of questions in that interview, ask them yourself.

“I want to improve my strength. How can your gym help me do this?”

“I want to lose 5 pounds by July. Is that doable? How?”

And so on.

Values and Mission

Here’s an important one: “What is your mission statement?”

Does the gym have one? If so, do its values align with yours?

When you hear what the gym stands for, does it resonate with you?

And do its programs link up with your goals? You should be getting a customized prescription for your journey, not being asked to fit into whatever is being offered.

It’s going to be a busy time for gyms, but we don’t believe any coaching relationship should start without a conversation. We don’t believe in free trials or jumping right into classes. If you choose to do so, we would recommend you book a consultation with the coach within the first week.

Barriers to Entry

The harder it is to join a gym, the more you should want to be there.

Gyms with a barrier to entry have that barrier in place to ensure they only work with the right people. They want to be sure they can help them in a relationship that lasts years, not weeks.

Do you have to meet with a coach first to go over your goals and the plan? Do they need to evaluate your movement in a personal session? If so, you should be happy. That gym doesn’t just want your money. It wants you to succeed.

Does the coach want to meet with you every 90-120 days to do a goal review, make sure you’re making progress and adjust your plan as needed?

Don’t be offended by barriers to entry. They are there to help you find success and protect the environment current members love.

If a gym rushes to sign you up and take your money, keep looking.


If you’re offered a discount, ask why.

If gyms don’t value their own services, why should you? Don’t look for cheap—look for excellence.

We removed all of our discounts because every person is equal. We care about every single person in every single profession. And new members are not more valuable than existing members.

And here’s a fact: gyms will not survive on discounted rates. If you want your new gym to survive, offer to pay the full rate.

Whatever the price is, pay it but demand that the gym provides the value to back it up.

Cheap steak isn’t good steak.

Standards of Service

Are you in a professional environment? You’ll know it when you are. If a sweaty coach meets you right at the hour, seems out of breath and unprepared, that coach is not truly ready to give you the best hour of your day.

Do you get an orientation package? Does the gym have a code of conduct? Are you told who to contact if you have problems? Is someone checking up on you regularly? Does anyone notice if you miss a class?

Before class, do the coaches explain the workout? Do they lead the warm-up? Are they engaged throughout the class? Can they tell you why the workout will help you achieve your goals? Are they eager to tailor workouts to you or do you feel as if you’re a burden because your shoulder is sore today?

You’ve also come to expect a class coached from start to finish. Are you getting feedback and coaching all class or is someone just cheering you on? You’re paying for coaching, not a fan club.

The focus should be on you, even if the class has 15 people in it. You should receive regular direct interaction no matter how big the class is. No one athlete should receive preferential treatment—you’re all stars of the show. The equity in class and in the gym should be palpable.

Atmosphere and Environment

Do people seem helpful and friendly or are they distant and cold?

You should be welcomed warmly by staff and members. Are current members coming up to you and introducing themselves? In gyms where the staff make a point of smiling and welcoming people, a culture grows and everyone greets everyone. It’s self-perpetuating.

You should make a few friends right away. Social distancing strains relationships, but smiles are more contagious than COVID, and they’re visible from 100 feet away.


During class, if your coach uses a cell phone for any reason other than coaching or celebrating you–snapping a pic or video—ask him or her what’s more important than the athletes in class.

Is he/she distracted by other things going on around the gym, or is there 100% focus on the class participants.

No Bad Days

Times are tough on gyms and small businesses in general. That doesn’t matter. Times are tough on you, too.

You should be patient as gyms adapt to adhere to public-health guidelines, but you should not expect a lowered standard of service or unfriendliness.

Yes, things will be different with social distancing, and you’ll have to adapt. Be patient and helpful. Your new coaches don’t want to be traffic cops and cleaners, but they’ll do it for your protection. Expect some confusion but see the effort to make things work.

But don’t lower your standards. When a coach walks into a gym, he or she should leave any problems at the door and give the clients the best hour of their day.

A Note to Roanoke Gym Owners

Brickhouse’s mission is to help our people live happy, healthy, and fit lives using nutrition and fitness coaching. If we meet with new folks whose goals and philosophy don’t align with what we have to offer, we’ll gladly be referring them your way.

A Note to Potential Clients

We care about you and your goals, and we want you to succeed. If you need any direction on what your next step should be or would just like a free fitness prescription, we’re happy to help. You can book a Free Intro below.

We hope this guide was helpful, and you have a better idea of what to expect when deciding where and how to start your health and fitness journey.

Are you ready to move in a positive direction and get happy, healthy, and fit? Book a Free Intro below and let’s chat about your goals.

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