The fact that you're considering joining a gym (or are changing gyms) is an indication that you're motivated to exercise and are on course to reaching your fitness goals, so CONGRATULATIONS!
Finding the proper gym for you is a very important step, which should be taken seriously. It can make all the difference in terms of your consistency with exercise and consistency is key.
Quite simply, If you don't like your gym, you're not as likely to go there consistently. Then there's all the guilt about not going, blah blah, blah, the whole scenario is unproductive. Bottom line: You need to like your gym and enjoy going there.
Here are some great healthy living tips on how to find the gym that is right for you:
1. Most gyms will offer a free pass (normally a week or two, sometimes longer), so that you can 'try before you buy'. Always accept and use the pass (use it as much as you can, as you want to learn a lot about the gym for free).
2. Thumbs down to any gym that tries to pressure sell you on the spot or doesn't offer a pass.
3. Get a feel for the people working there: Are they accessible or do they seem too busy to serve you or answer questions? Do they seem enthusiastic about you meeting your goals or are they kind-of indifferent? Are they friendly or snooty? Will they take time to explain and demonstrate all of the equipment, or do they want to rush through this important process?
4. Do they have a full array of equipment for weight training as well as cardio? (Both are important).
5. Do they have enough equipment (and different varieties) so that you wont be constantly waiting to use everything?
6. Are the gym and change/washrooms/showers kept clean?
7. Are there clearly posted respect rules (i.e. put weights away, no swearing, no muscle shirts, no dropping weights, clean equipment when finished with it, etc.)?
8. Will you be comfortable with the ratio of men to women in this gym?
9. Do the other members seem friendly and polite? (I think this is a big one). Is it a gym or a fashion show?
10. Do they offer a childcare service and would you be totally comfortable with leaving your child there?
11. Do they have a hot tub? Sauna? Steam room? Do you have to pay a 'premium' membership price to use these things?
12. Can you rent a locker to leave your things in over night or are lockers just for day use?
13. Do they have a towel service? (not a deal-breaker, but it is a convenient service).
14. Does the gym area have enough mirrors? (important for helping you keep proper form while working out).
15. Are the membership fees competitive?
16. Is it a reasonable proximity from home?