Joining a gym can be a stressful and hectic experience. Having a list of questions to ask while touring potential gyms will keep you from forgetting what you need to know (use the printable list). While visiting the gyms you're interested in, you should take notes about anything you feel might be important later on when making your final decision. After you visit all the gyms on your potential list, go home, read over your notes and make an informed decision.
Time - Visit the gym during the times you plan on using it. You need to see how crowded it gets and what machines are usually taken. Ask what the hours the gym is open for both weekdays and weekends.
Cost and Contracts - There are plenty of cost structures available to you. Sign up as a family, alone, pay for an year up front, pay month to month or sign a contract. These are all issues you should ask about. Sometimes you can get away without signing a contract but you will probably have to pay a higher monthly rate. Find out what the length of the contract is and if there are any joining fees or other costs involved.
Equipment - Take a tour of the gym and see if the equipment they have will work for you. Different gyms are tailored to different people. Some keep beginners in mind while other are made for serious body builders. Make sure they have all the machines you would want to use.
Group Exercise Classes - If you are into yoga, pilates or spinning, make sure the gym offers these classes. Get a schedule and see if you can make it to the gym at the times the classes are offered. Also ask if group exercise classes are included in the membership or if they are extra.
Personal Training - Check to see what the trainers are like. What are the per session costs, what are their qualifications (college or just a personal training certification), what is their availability?
Extras - A lot of gyms have more than just workout equipment. Some have pools. basketball courts and even tanning beds. Ask about these and see if there are any additional costs associated with them.
Free Gym Trial Pass - See if you can get a free week pass to the gym you want to sign up for. You can sometimes workout for up to two weeks for free. If they're a good gym, they'll let you try before you buy because they know you'll be satisfied and end up joining. Be weary of gyms that don't offer free trail memberships.