There are many factors to consider when picking a gym. Is there a pool? Does it have enough cardio machines and free weights to ensure you don’t spend half your time queuing? Is the changing room big enough that you don’t have to become disturbingly familiar with your fellow gym-goers?
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Top of the list of considerations, however, should be the gym’s location. Nothing kills motivation quite like a long journey, apparently.
US marketing firm Dstillery has quantified the distance people are prepared to travel to a gym regularly, and the results suggest that it’s vital to pick somewhere that’s no more than four miles away.
Dstillery looked at anonymised location data from 7.5m people at gyms across the USA over a four-week period. The company tracked the frequency of gym visits, the days people went and how far they travelled to get there.
It turns out that people who only travelled 3.7 miles or less to their gym went five or more times a month, while those who had to travel five miles or more only went once a month.
However, distance was less of a factor if the gym was especially fancy (and therefore expensive) – the median distance people travelled to upmarket gym chain Equinox was 5.7 miles. People were also prepared to travel further to boutique gyms like US spinning sensation SoulCycle.
Clearly no gym is ever going to be close or nice enough to remove all the issues that might stop someone working out, but removing the impediment of a long journey could make a big difference if you haven’t got pockets deep enough to join a top-bracket club.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.