With the holiday season coming to an end, it is peak season for joining a gym! Certainly in Hanoi where there more than 450 gyms / fitness services, it can be a bit of a minefield to make that decision!
So here are our top 5 red flags to watch out for when searching for your new fitness location:
Red Flag 1: They don't have a public pricelist
Probably the number one complaint we hear about gyms in Hanoi is the lack of transparency in pricing. Just some examples of situations discussed on the many facebook groups in Hanoi "I asked for their pricelist and they told me I can't have it until have completed my trial session!" or "I spoke to one sales person in XXX gym and got one price, my partner went in 2 hours later and got a completely different price!"
When a gym is reluctant to give out a pricelist or even have it published on their website, it immediately creates sense of dishonesty.
Red Flag 2: Bad reviews or even worse fake reviews!
Word of mouth is king (or queen) in Hanoi, do your research, check out the reviews on Google and search gym names in big facebook groups, to see what is being said about a gym you are considering.
But not just about focussing on 5 star reviews, but what is being said, is it meaningful feedback being left for that gym? Are there photos? Are particular staff members being mentioned? If yes, then you are probably getting a genuine feel for what that gym is about, if not then it might be too good to be true!
Red Flag 3: They haven't asked for any health related information.
So you found a gym and possibly booking a trial, at this point it is always interesting to know what questions you are being asked... whether it is verbal or through some sort of documented form, a good, safe and well run gym would ask you about your current health and any pre-existing injuries. If not, perhaps that is an indication of their level of professionalism.
Red Flag 4: You spend more time speaking with a sales person than a coach.
Someone recently described a large commercial gym in Hanoi as "a sales office operating out of a gym" and this really summed up one of the biggest issues with the fitness industry in Vietnam. At STAR we believe a coach is a coach, not a sales person. If you allow the coach to do what they do best, pushy sales tactics is not needed.
So if there is more emphasis on the sale than the coaching, that is fairly clear indication of how things will continue to be once you sign that contract.
Red Flag 5: Bad gym ettiquette goes unchallenged
Co-Owner of STAR, Gemma, was recently in a commercial gym in the city, using their swimming pool. In this one visit she observed a staff member eating their lunch poolside (they even had their mini rice-cooker plugged in!), a customer vaping in the pool and then when she went to changing rooms after a personal trainer was taking videos of themselves in the mirror whilst there was clearly people around her in a state of undress. None of this was challenged until Gemma complained at reception, and even then it wasn't really taken seriously.
Although this was quite an extreme situation, if you are seeing poor gym ettiquette either by the staff or other members, and nobody is doing anything about it, this is probably a fair indication on the standard of service and experience you can expect to recieve as a member there.
So our advice when looking for a gym in Hanoi, take advantage of your buying power! There are plenty services to choose from, do your research and make use of trial periods offered by most centres. Afterall, it can be a big investment and commitment, so finding the right place for you is really important!