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Thinking About Joining A Gym In Charleston?
Read More To Find Out Which Ones Have The Best Reviews And What Makes Each One Different

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Hi, this is Shane Doll. If you’re considering starting a workout routine at a local Charleston gym, I created this page to help you consider your options.

As I'm sure you know not all gyms are the same and finding the best fit really depends on what your goals are and what you’d like to have from an environment and amenities standpoint.

The best place to start the evaluation process is assessing what’s really most important to you. This will be extremely beneficial in seeing that you get the best return for your investment at the end of the day. I’ve found that most gyms pitch their facilities the same when in reality they all have some differences that could be advantages or disadvantages depending on your wants and needs.

10 Criteria To Help You Determine Which Type Of Charleston Gym Will Be The Best Fit

1. Are you new to exercise OR experienced with doing workout routines on your own?

This is the first area you’ll want to think about before concerning yourself with what else a gym has to offer. Some gyms simply offer equipment and room to exercise, nothing more. Others provide you with more personal coaching and support to help you learn the correct way to exercise to see results.

If you’re someone who knows what your doing with workout routines and doesn’t need accountability or support, this won’t matter much. But on the other hand if you’re just starting out, the last thing you want is to be wandering around in a room full of equipment not knowing what to do. This is what most people do and the main reason they don't see results.

Working Out On Your Own

Starting out at a smaller gym built around coaching where you can learn a solid foundation of how to do exercises correctly on your own can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. Instead of signing a long-term contract solely based on price, think about your decision in terms of an investment. What's going to be the BEST investment for you at this time?

If you don’t have an established routine and a good grasp of how to go about seeing results, consider investing in a gym without long-term contracts where you can get coaching, accountability, and support first. Then once you’re ready you can head off to a larger health club to workout on your own.

2. Are you looking for a semi-private and non-intimidating Charleston gym or are you ok with the typical health club scene?

All gyms are a little bit different in this regard so you’ll want to do a tour at a time when you’re most likely to be working out. If you’re a little bit intimidated being in a big health club with people staring at you, the smaller more private settings will be a better fit.

It's also always a good idea to ask your friends and co-workers as they might be able to tell you which Charleston gyms the bodybuilders tend to congregate at and which ones are more of a “meat market” scene.

Pay special attention to this is you're a female as there's nothing worse than trying to workout and have some guy hit on you like in the picture below. Prime times at the larger health clubs will also be prime times for the pick-up artists. Know this going in.

3. Are you looking for a body transformation or do you just want to have access to a Charleston gym to stay active?

This is an important consideration as you’re not likely to see significant changes in your body by going into a gym all by yourself and trying to come up with your own routines. Let’s just be honest here. That’s going to require more structure and support from a personal trainer or coach, at least in the beginning.

If you’re just looking to stay healthy and maintain your body weight you can look for the gym that provides the best convenience and amenities to meet your needs. They’re really not going to be that much different from an equipment standpoint, although most gyms will try and sell you on how theirs is better.

4. Will you be considering a Charleston personal trainer to help you reach your goals?

Most all gyms provide personal trainers but this is an area where you’ll want to do your homework. For many big box gyms and health clubs, the personal training department is an after-thought to the main business of selling memberships.

Some but not all that actually run their personal training departments as a revenue center will utilize free sessions for new members to promote their packages.

Don’t be surprised if you encounter high pressure sales tactics like you’d find when taking one of those vacation time share tours. Yeah, we’ve all been there and done that. Not a fun experience.

There’s a big difference between a certified personal trainer and a fitness professional. Sure, you can find a fitness professional in a larger health club, but you’re also way more likely to get a college kid who just got certified over the weekend as your trainer.

You’ll want to do your homework here to make sure you’re getting a true fitness professional who is knowledgeable about exercise prescription. See my article on choosing a personal trainer for specific questions to ask a perspective trainer before entrusting them to the care of your body.

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5. Will you need 24 hour access or will you workout during regular operating hours of most gyms?

There are a handful of Charleston gyms that provide 24 hour access for people who just can’t get in to do workouts during regular hours. Most of them are pretty much the same with basically a bunch of equipment and not much more in terms of amenities and class options.

Do a tour and check out the cleanliness and maintenance on the equipment. Some 24 hour facilities will really suffer in these areas because staffing is often kept to a minimum. Once again doing a personal tour of the premises will go a long way in helping you make an informed decision before you sign a contract.

6. Will you need child care to be available at the Charleston gym you choose?

This should be self explanatory but make sure you find out when child care is available. Many Charleston gyms that provide child care do so only at peak times to keep costs down. Make sure to find out when the service is available and of course do an inspection of the area and interview the sitters.

7. Would you like to have nutrition coaching and education as part of your program?

The reason most people join a gym is to see a specific result like losing weight, increasing lean muscle, etc. Exercise is simply a means to the end, not the main objective. I don’t know very many people who exercise just for the fun of it!

Most people workout to see some type of result. If you’re objective is to lose weight, you know this is going to require more than just showing up at the gym a few times a week. You’re going to need to make specific changes in your diet to support all the hard work you do exercising.

Investigate the nutrition coaching and support programs that are available because this is going to be a huge part of your success. In my experience I’ve found results are 70% or greater due to the right nutrition, and 30% or less due to the right exercise.

8. Are you looking for added amenities such as swimming pools, saunas, racquetball courts, spinning classes and the like or just a place to workout?

Most of your larger Charleston gyms and health clubs will have spinning classes and other group exercise options. However, surprisingly only a couple of facilities provide things like swimming pools, saunas, and racquetball courts.

While these are common place in the YMCA’s and big health clubs in larger markets, Charleston just doesn’t have a lot of fitness facilities that provide these kind of amenities. The MUSC Wellness Center and East Shore Athletic Club are two facilities that I’d recommend if you’re looking for the above mentioned amenities.

9. Would you rather go month by month basis or is a long-term contract not a problem?

This is an area you’ll want to consider wisely as there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a contract for something you’re no longer using.

As a general rule, the larger health clubs and gyms all pretty much have one to two year membership agreements. The smaller facilities and gyms that focus on personal fitness programs typically allow clients to go month-month.

10. And finally, how important is it that you see RESULTS from the investment you make in joining a gym?

This is the most important factor to consider when making a buying decision. Remember some gyms do nothing more than rent you space and equipment to exercise with. This is commonly what you’ll find with the larger health clubs.

These settings will work just fine if you know what you’re doing and already have an established routine. However, if you’re just starting out or your serious about seeing significant changes by a certain date (like an upcoming vacation, wedding, class reunion, etc), you’ll want to look for smaller gyms that focus on personal coaching and support.

Why choose Shaping Concepts as your Charleston gym?

I hope that the ten criteria that I’ve provided you above will be beneficial when considering what fitness facility to join. I felt this was important to do as I didn’t want to come across just another owner trying to pitch their own gym. I’d rather earn your respect as a trusted advisor that way even if my gym isn’t a good fit right now; I’ve left the door open for the future.

Of course I’d love to have your business and I’d be very grateful to have you in my facility. But I realize that there is no such thing as a “gym fit for everyone.” I’ll be honest, if you’re looking for a big gym with lots of amenities you won’t find that at Shaping Concepts.

But on the other hand if you’re looking for a smaller, semi-private environment without the intimidation found in the larger health clubs, you’ll be right at home here. At Shaping Concepts you’ll be treated like a member of a family and not just another number. The personal attention, support, and education separate us from other Charleston gyms and health clubs.

Without question, the biggest difference between Shaping Concepts and other Charleston gyms is in the RESULTS we provide our clients. You see we don’t just provide you with a place to exercise, but rather with a personalized blueprint and a coach to help you reach your goals.

Critical components for a successful body transformation:
24 Hour
Community Fitness Center
Other Personal Fitness Studios
Large Health Clubs
Structure & Support
Motivation & Encouragement
Month-Month Without Contract
Nutrition Education And Coaching
Not Likely
Intimidation And Judgment Free Environment
Progress Measurement And Tracking Of Results
Not Likely
Metabolism Testing And Weight Loss Support
Not Likely
Not Likely

Shaping Concepts guarantees your results or your money back!

In fact, I like to say we’re not in the gym business at all, but rather the business of producing results. I’m so committed to seeing our clients get results that I personally guarantee it or your money back!

Ask another Charleston gym if they’ll guarantee your results and see what you find!

How can I be so confident that you’ll see results in my gym?

For starters, you’ll never be left to wander around on your own trying to figure out what exercises to do. All of our programs incorporate a coach to provide you with professional instruction, motivation, and support.

We’ve got a wide variety of coaching programs from one-on-one Charleston personal training, partner, small group personal training, weight loss programs, and boot camps. See our services and rates page for more information.

The second reason why I’m so confident that you’ll see results is because we’ve already helped over 1000 Charleston area residents lose weight and get in the best shape of their lives with my unique burst training workouts and Primal Blueprint nutrition strategies.

I could go on and on about the Shaping Concepts difference but I’d rather let our clients be the social proof. Check out our success stories page for before and after pictures along with dozens of testimonials.

en At 48 Years Old I Was Able To Lose 30 Pounds And Go From A Size 12 To A Size 2. When I Get Up In The Morning I Can Wear Anything I Want!"

"When I came to Shaping Concepts I was 48 years old, 157 pounds and I wore a size 12. Getting dressed in the morning was depressing. I looked and felt fat in all my clothes. Looking in mirrors was something I avoided.

A friend of mine told me she went to Shaping Concepts. She was in her 50's and she looked hot! How many times had I joined a gym? How may times had I purchased fitness equipment? I decided this might be my last hope. Depression had clearly set in.

Although I was skeptical at first and it took me a while to get my nutrition and cardio on track, then end result was nothing less than amazing. Even at 48 years old I was able to lose 30 pounds and get down to a size 0-2. Now, when I get dressed in the morning I can wear anything I want.

Yes, outside I look good but the biggest change for me is the inner peace and comfort I feel within. I'm a content person today, no more inner chaos, and I'm truly loving life. Shaping Concepts is so much more than a gym. Every time I walk in the the door I feel love, support, kindness and encouragement."

Sarah Parker
Isle Of Palms, SC

"With The Help Of My Personal Trainer I Lost 18 Pounds And 7% Body Fat Before My Wedding Day! I Think It's One Of The Best Investments You Can Make For Yourself."

"I started working out at Shaping Concepts to lose weight for my wedding day. With the help of my trainer, Andrew Duffy I was able to lose 18 pounds and 7% body fat. I couldn't be more pleased with the results. I loved the fact that he took the time to build workouts just for me and he knew the best way to push me.

Everyone at Shaping Concepts makes you feel so comfortable when you're in the studio. It's not intimidating like a traditional gym. The personal trainers here are wonderful and they do a good job of targeting the areas you want to work on.

The functional exercise routines and Shane's nutrition strategies provide a great combination of working hard and eating right that can change your life forever. I think it's one of the best investments you can make for yourself. Hopefully people who see what I've done realize that they can do it too."

Laura Smith
Johns Island, SC

"My Personal Trainer Andrew Duffy Has Helped Me Lose 37 Pounds, 10 Inches, And 10% Body Fat. He Coaches Me, Pushes Me, And Most Of All He Cares."

"Since joining Shaping Concepts, my trainer Andrew Duffy has help me lose 37 pounds, 10 inches, and 10% body fat. I was faithful in following his advice in regards to how to eat, what to eat, and how to do my cardio outside of the studio. And what can I say, it worked!

I've been a member at several Charleston gyms but I never pushed myself like my Andrew does and that has made a big difference. He coaches me, pushes me, and most of all, he cares. I don't feel like I'm just a number on a list with him. He wants me to succeed and he helps me do that.

I love being thin, but more than that, I love seeing the definition in my body. I feel strong and healthy but best of all I feel younger at 41 than I did when I was 20. I can't thank Andrew enough for helping me change my life!"

Kim Hulsey
Mt. Pleasant, SC

charleston personal training clients

Give us a try for FREE before signing up at any other Charleston gym

Here’s what I’d like you to do before you make a final decision about where to workout. Fill in the web-form at the top of this page for a free no-obligations consultation and trial of my programs. I promise you there will be no high pressure sales tactics or gimmicks. I hate that as much as you do and it’s not how we do business here.

I’d be happy to simply sit and talk with you about your goals and provide you my recommendations on how to see the results you’re looking for. Even if it ends up being that a big gym would be better suited for your needs. If nothing else you’ll leave with valuable information on how to workout for your individual wants and needs.

My rationale is if I can help you make an informed decision and earn your trust, I’ll have made a friend who is more likely to tell others about Shaping Concepts.

If you have any questions at all or would like to speak with me personally, you’ll find an “E-Mail Shane” button right underneath the video at the top of this page.

I look forward to meeting you.


Shane Doll CPT, CSCS
Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios
1009 Anna Knapp Blvd #101
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
Phone: 843-971-8665