If you’ve decided that working out on your old elliptical machine while re-watching Breaking Bad episodes on Netflix isn’t helping you achieve maximum weight loss results, maybe it’s time to get out of the basement and join a gym. While some fitness centers offer bare-bones equipment for an affordable price, others offer a wide variety of amenities, but you’ll definitely pay to play.
Before you get out your wallet, decide what’s important to you in a fitness center and what you’re willing to pay for, then choose a gym accordingly. Below is a brief overview to help you make your decision. From Mild-Mannered to Big and Fancy, what do you need for your workout experience in 2014?
Mild Mannered $ – Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Curves, Blink
- Low membership fees and no-hassle contracts mean you can get in shape without taking out a 2nd mortgage
- Often cater to first-time gym members by discouraging intimidating behavior like grunting, growling and gun-showing in the weight room
- Easy-to-use cardio and strength equipment, so you actually spend your time working out, not punching buttons and reading the user’s guide
- No children allowed and no child care. Is that necessarily a bad thing, though? Time away from the kids is OK, especially if you’re getting healthy
- No high-end amenities like juice bars, tanning beds, steam rooms, or swimming pools
Family Friendly $ to $$ – YMCA, Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness
- Moderate monthly fees
- Childcare is not just a “holding area.” Kids are supervised in bright welcoming rooms by trained professionals who know all know the lyrics to Taylor Swift songs.
- Most facilities offer classes for adults including aerobics, Zumba, pilates, spin classes and more
- Children have a multitude of fun/competitive classes and team sports to choose from including ballet, dance, softball, basketball, etc.
- Some YMCA memberships include free access to their spacious indoor/outdoor pools. Lifeguards? Yes. Cabana boys? No.
Big and Fancy $$ – $$$ – Bally’s, Genesis, LA Fitness
- Pretty! These facilities spare no expense to make sure your workout area is so spacious, well-lit and bass-thumping, you’ll wonder if it doubles as a nightclub
- Amenity-palooza. Steam room, sauna, lap pool, heated whirlpool, free tanning, juice bar, racquetball court, spa room. A mini vacation destination.
- Expanded kids areas. While some Big and Fancy gyms have a no-kids-allowed policy, others go the extra mile to make sure children have fitness classes and equipment designed for smaller still-growing bodies.
- Specialized group classes. In addition to aerobics and other common group workouts, Big and Fancy also provides unique experiences including belly dancing, circuit boxing, Tai Chi, Yogabeat, Latin heat and more.
- Blinged-out Bathrooms. At Big and Fancy you’ll find larger sinks, bigger lockers, larger personal showers and more of them. Some even include sitting areas equipped with flat screen TVs.
Boutique/Studio $$$ – Ballet Barre, CrossFit, SoulCycle, Boot Camp
- Ballet Barre – Group exercise that makes use of a ballet barre to work the thighs and core muscles. Props including yoga straps, stability balls and hand weights are often used to target other key muscles. Embrace your inner ballerina.
- CrossFit – Can be personalized for every fitness level. No cardio machines in these facilities. YOU are the machine. Exercises include weights, jump rope, squats, lunges, pull-ups, etc. CrossFit is set apart from other routines because the focus is on high intensity functional movements.
- SoulCycle – Exercise bike on crack. SoulCycle facilities offer a peaceful candlelit atmosphere to calm the rider while loud energetic music pulses through the air. Instructors are exuberant motivators who encourage everyone to keep up with pace and tempo, so maximum cardio and strength can be achieved.
- Boot Camp – Military style training course often performed outside. Focus is on calisthenics, stretching and strength. Varied “stations” offer different exercises. Personal trainer and weekly consultation with registered dietician is included in each 6-week session.
Photo – LA Fitness.com