If you’re just starting out on a wellness journey, it can be hard to figure out where to start. How do you start eating healthier? What advice should you listen to? And perhaps one of the most overwhelming decisions to make is… which gym do I join? Not all fitness centers are created equal, and not all gyms are right for everyone. The upside of having so many options to choose from is that you can find one that really is right for you, and provides more than just access to rows of equipment.
Generally speaking, there are five fitness centers or environments, and there is usually a difference in price, facility, amenities, staff, and even member base demographics. Here is a quick summary of each kind of club to help you choose the best fit for you and your wellness needs.
The Different Types of Fitness Facilities
- Corporate Chain Gyms & Franchises. Over the past 25 years, large corporate box-style fitness centers have popped up seemingly everywhere. One distinct advantage of joining this kind of gym is the accessibility to multiple locations and the consistency they can deliver in facility, equipment, and group classes. The price of membership is typically affordable, and these clubs provide a range of cost options and membership terms.
One downside to corporate gyms is that their survival depends on a large volume of business which can leave service and attention as an afterthought. Additionally, they typically attract low-wage-earning employees and inexperienced personal trainers who are just starting their careers. However, many individuals gain benefits from having access to the wide variety of equipment and novelties available in the chain gym, and they can be a great resource for the avid exerciser or someone comfortable with the atmosphere of a traditional box gym.
- Boutique Personal Training Studios. Without question, working with the right certified personal trainer is a sure way to see significant results. Like many aspects of the fitness world, personal training has been devalued by big corporations driving down prices and hiring inferior trainers. While there are some wonderful trainers working for corporate gyms, most choose to leave the pressure cooker and open a studio or work for a company focused on real wellness services.
The training environment can be diverse, so be sure the studio is comfortable for you and meets your needs. Some boutique training services can be done in your own home or the home of a trainer, but most professionals will have a studio facility or rent space from another fitness company. Like most specialized services, price is usually the biggest topic of concern for those interested in hiring a trainer. However, the return on investment is often measured by improved flexibility, a desired physique, endurance, strength, joint health, and cardiovascular fortitude. When seeking a personal trainer, price should not necessarily be the deciding factor.
- Olympic Style Gyms. Dozens of warehouses and garage fitness centers are scattered through communities and have gained significant popularity over the past decade. These classes are designed to accommodate a smaller membership base and are known for intense workouts. Many maneuvers in these classes are based on Olympic-style lifts such as the snatch and clean and the jerk and include high-volume repetition of deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses.
High-Intensity Interval Training is also typically woven into these classes but unfortunately, many owner-operators are not certified trainers and the injury rate for this class type is notoriously high. But the attraction power comes from the sense of community these smaller gyms naturally create along with the challenging programs. The price for this kind of fitness service can be greater than that of a corporate chain gym, but you arguably get more value for the dollar.
- Yoga, Pilates, and Mind-Body Studios. The rising popularity of Yoga, Pilates, and other mind-body options have been byproducts of consumers looking for alternatives to the corporate chain gym. However, these modalities also stand on their own merits. Typically, these fitness options are low-impact and can greatly reduce stress, increase flexibility, build core strength, and fortify joint stability.
For those looking for the physical benefits of these programs without the spiritual aspect, many studios now focus more on the physiological component, but there is usually an option for either. Choosing the right studio is just as important as choosing the right gym, and each location has its own unique ambiance, culture, and instructor quality. Taking advantage of a free trial can help you choose the instructor and style that work best for you. While class prices can range from medium to high, most studios are specialized and charge accordingly.
- Luxury Brand or Country Clubs. Luxury brand clubs can be a corporate chain, small multiclub group, or a single location entity. Most of these clubs have high-level amenities such as racquet sports, swimming pools, recreational water features, bars, restaurants, and opulent locker rooms. Some of the pricier options have an onsite salon and spa and even medical offices. While many of these luxuries are not necessary to achieve fitness results, they can enhance your experience or even motivate you to work out more consistently.
There is often a large social component to this type of club, but that can also be true for most fitness options. But one thing to note is that even with all the glamor, the machines are often the same ones you can find at the average corporate gym. Joining a luxury club is often more for exclusivity, social connection, and ambiance than it is for fitness. Prices can be very high compared to other options, but some people find the extra cost worth it as the amenities are unrivaled and the staff is typically more customer service savvy.
Find What Works for You
When deciding which type of fitness facility is right for you, keep your wellness and fitness goals in mind. Be sure to find the instructor, equipment, environment, and price point that will deliver results and keep you interested in making your wellness a lifestyle and daily priority. And at the end of the day, whether you pick a yoga studio or Olympic-style gym, committing to moving your body and improving your wellness is always the right choice.
At Forge, we have a team of certified personal trainers who can help you choose the right fitness facility for your goals and needs. Let’s schedule a time to chat!