How to Choose a Gym

Unless you live in a large city, you might not have many options when it comes to choosing a gym/studio. You might just have to go with whatever is nearby enough – or if you’re already a pro, consider setting up a home studio if you have the means and space to do so. However, if you’re relatively new, that is probably not a good idea. If you happen to be lucky enough to have multiple studios near you, here are factors to consider.

Location

This goes without saying – the studio neads to be accessible, the closer the better. Chains with multiple locations could be the most practical in this aspect, if they exist in your area.

Schedule

If you have a regular job, you will need to work around that – check that the studio has classes at times you can make. If your schedule is more flexible, that’s less of a concern. Having more available slots can make your life easier. Some studio also price peak and off-peak classes differently.

Decide whether you want the structure of a course (for instance 8 weeks of silks twice a week with the same group), or the flexibility of drop-in classes. Few places offer both.

Prices

Aerials are not a cheap hobby. Due to the small instructor:student ratio, specialised equipment and other factors, aerial classes tend to be more expensive than other types of exercise. But there is still a range. If you can, buy a pack of classes or a monthly pass – this should reduce the cost per class. Look out for any introductory offers if it’s your first time there.

Silks hanging from ceiling.
Photo credit: pboyd04 on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: pboyd04 on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

Apparatuses & Classes

If you’re interested in a particular apparatus, or in having many available, check what the venue has to offer. For example, some might only have silks or hammocks. Gyms might offer other classes in addition to circus arts, which could make membership more worthwhile to you. Alternatively, you might prefer a place that specializes in aerials/pole, as that can provide better community and teaching.

Eventually you might also be interested in pole/aerial hire – meaning you only book time and the apparatus to practice, without a teacher there. Usually you need to fill some prerequisites to do that, but keep it in mind if it’s something you might want in the future.

Level

If you’re not very fit yet, make sure that the studio will be welcoming to you.  For example, some places require that you are able to do a pull up. Others might test you to determine what level you should go to. Conversely, if you are more experienced, check that the classes will be sufficiently challenging for you. You should be able to find this information on their website, or via a phone call. If you’re new, maybe opt for a beginners course if one exists and fits into your schedule.

Teaching

Any decent aerial studio should have a relatively low number of students per teacher, as it’s a risky sport – if you fall, you could hurt yourself. Crash mats are a must.

This usually matters less for complete beginners, but if you’re already pretty interested in aerials, you might already know who you’d like to learn from. If so, look them up and see if they teach anywhere close to you.

Space

As you progress in aerials, you’ll start to care more about the finer details. For example, if you want to perform drops on silks, you need very high ceilings.

Some gyms can be loud or dark, which could be a disadvantage. Mirrors can be helpful or distracting. You might also care about the quality of changing rooms, showers and other facilities onsite.

Conclusion

While there are a lot of aspects to consider and it’s good to do a little bit of research, there’s no need to overthink it either.

You don’t have to find the one optimal place for everything – you could easily go to one gym for hoop and another for pole. If you’re going this route, consider ClassPass or other similar services.

The easiest way to find out for sure whether you like somewhere is to try it. I’d recommend trying at least a couple different classes at a studio before deciding if it is for you or not. Different teachers can have very different styles.

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