If you're ready to get in shape, whether you need to lose weight, build muscle, or improve your cardiovascular endurance, a gym is a good place to start. There may be several gyms near you, so you might wonder how to pick the best one. Different facilities provide different services, so it's important to understand what you need and then find a fitness center that is a good match. Here are some gym services and features you might want to look for.

A Swimming Pool

Not all fitness centers have pools. If you prefer to swim laps instead of running on a treadmill, then finding a facility with a pool could be important. You might also like taking water aerobics classes. If you want to exercise in a fun way that's low impact too, then having access to a pool could make your workouts more fun so you stick with the program.

An Indoor Running Track

If you want to run more, but you don't like treadmills and you don't feel safe running in your neighborhood, then searching for a facility with an indoor running track might be a good move. You may find running on a track to be more enjoyable than running in place on a treadmill. However, if you can't find a place with an indoor track, you may find a treadmill isn't as bad as you suspect since you might be able to watch television at the same time to make the experience less boring.

Strength Training Equipment

You may have a preference for free weights or machines. Some fitness centers offer both, while others may only have free weights. Be sure the facility you choose has the type of equipment you want since strength training may be an important part of reaching your fitness goals. No matter what type of equipment your gym provides, be sure you understand how to use it before you begin.

Personal Training

If you're getting in shape for the first time in a long time, then you'll probably need a personal trainer for at least a few sessions. A trainer helps you use equipment properly, and they also design a program of exercises for you so you get the most benefit and progress toward your goals of increased fitness.

Group Classes

Large fitness centers usually have a variety of classes, such as yoga, calisthenics, cycling, dance aerobics, and other types of exercise. Having access to classes might be important to you, and if so, you may need to find a large gym for the biggest variety. However, if you're mainly interested in lifting free weights, you might prefer a small neighborhood gym that only offers weights and personal training.