Insurer gives tips on finding fitness facility

Finding the right fitness facility can be a tricky task if you’re looking for more than just the lowest-cost option.

"You need to assess your fitness goals before selecting the best gym for you," said Janette Westman, health and wellness consultant, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. "Do you want a basic gym with treadmills for a daily run or walk, for example, or do you prefer a gym with varied classes or state-of-the art equipment to keep you motivated?"

Westman, a former personal trainer, offers the following tips for finding the right fitness facility:

¿ Location: People often stop exercising because they lack the time. If you exercise after work, select a gym close to your employer. Weekend warriors in the battle against the bulge may want a gym close to home.

¿ Hours of operation: The gym should be open when you plan to exercise. Early birds, for example, may need a gym with early hours to allow for the 5 a.m. swim before work.

¿ Cost: Ask if the gym will waive the enrollment fee so that you’re only responsible for the monthly dues.

¿ Free trial pass: Test the gym during the times you’ll likely exercise. Is the gym too crowded? Are the classes, equipment and atmosphere right for you? Are showers and changing facilities up to par?

¿ Equipment quality: Check if the cardio and weight machines are clean and in good condition.

¿ Staff: Are staff members qualified with the right certifications? You may want a gym with fitness trainers and dieticians to help you get healthier.

¿ Classes: Ask if classes such as spinning and yoga cost extra. If you’re solely interested in classes, a studio instead of a fitness facility may be a better option for you.

"Once you secure a gym membership, keep your fitness goals S.M.A.R.T ­ specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely ­ and remember to have fun!" Westman added. "You’re more likely to continue exercising if you stick to activities you enjoy."

Excellus BCBS offers several programs that can help members pay for a gym membership. Information is at

They include:

¿ The Blue365 program offers members discounted memberships to certain gyms.

¿ Members in the HealthyBlue health plan can earn cash back for doing healthy things. The cash can be applied toward a gym membership.

¿ The Silver&Fit program is included with all of its Medicare Advantage plans and offers memberships to participating fitness clubs and exercise facilities for an annual fee.

For more information about these programs, go to

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York.