Work it Out Wednesday: Choosing the Right Gym

Throughout my time in a love-hate relationship with working out, I've been a member of 3 different gyms. Reflecting back on my time at each of them kinda feels like I'm reminiscing on old flames and remembering why they did or didn't work. And as dramatic as that may sound, where you decide to workout (and spend your money on a membership) matters! Each gym I've been a member of helped me achieve different goals, goals that I knew I had to set before purchasing a membership. are three things to consider when searching for your perfect workout facility:

1. What is most important to you in a gym? Is it the membership cost? Perhaps it's the proximity to your house/job? Because these were most important to me at the start of my journey, I chose Planet Fitness

  • Planet Fitness has what seems like thousands of treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes. It's pretty rare that they'll ALL be occupied when you go, and if they are, one will free up in no time.
  • There are tons of locations, especially if you live in a big city. No matter the neighborhood, I was able to find a Planet Fitness not too far away. 
  • Familiar faces. I love the feeling I get when other members and I recognize each other in the gym. I like to call it Club Planet Fitness; after 5pm, it's packed with people working out, and they're mostly familiar faces.
  • Lastly, the price. Membership is a mere $10 a month. Can't beat that!
  • The whole Club Planet Fitness thing? Not so fun when those familiar faces are lined up to get on a weight machine. The cardio was never a problem for me, but my strength routines were often thrown off depending on how long I'd have to wait for each machine. On days when I was willing to wait, it'd result in spending an extra 30 minutes to an hour at the gym.
  • Um. Pizza Mondays? Bagel Tuesdays? Tootsie Rolls at the front desk? Maybe it's me, but I was under the impression that gyms are supposed to motivate you to change your habits and become a better version of you. Kinda hard to do that when you're on the machine shoving a slice of pepperoni pizza down your throat.
  • You're on your own. No classes. Which brings me to my next thing to consider...

2. Do you prefer a workout partner? If so, a place like Planet Fitness might not be for you. Because it gets crowded, you have to hop on machines or secure a workout spot on the floor when one frees up. Most times, you and your partner won't be able to get started on your workouts at the same time, and you're essentially back to working out on your own. Once I was ready to add group workouts to my routine, I joined Lucille Roberts.

  • Lucille Roberts is all about classes; it's actually the crux of what they do. Zumba, Hip Hop, Kickboxing, Yoga, Pilates, Butt & Gut, Abs & Arms, Boot Camp, HIIT...the list goes on. There's something for every interest, so you can check your gym's location online to see which class fits your schedule.
  • There is always some kind of membership offer going on. A lot of time their promotions allow you to join for $1, or invite friends for free. And with membership fees at $29.99 for an all-access pass, it's still not a bad deal!
  • When it comes to weight-loss shakes, teas, pills, etc., Lucille Roberts has no shortage. Their front cabinet is stocked full of products that help slim and trim (so they say), and again, there's always some kind of special offer going on.
  • Did I mention it's an all women's gym?
  • Since this gym specializes in classes, there's VERY little room for working out on  your own. Sure, there are cardio machines and weights, but the amount of space you have to get on the floor and do your own workouts is extremely limited at most gyms.
  • There's a limited selection of workout equipment. The LR I used to attend had just one kettlebell and only one set of 15-pound weights. They did have weighted bars, medicine balls and the rounded ab balls, but that was it. It made it very hard to try new workouts that required more equipment.
  • The staff can be a bit overbearing. If you express interest once, they hound you for months trying to get you to join. I expressed many times that I wanted time to think about it, but they wouldn't let up. I eventually saved them as "Do Not Answer" until I was ready to join. 
  • The limited workout space they do have is dominated by personal trainers. When they're in session, no one else is allowed to use that, at all. With the rest of the gym being occupied by classes and machines, where are you supposed to get your ab workout on? 
3. Because I wanted the option to do my own workouts with a variety of equipment AND take classes, I eventually found myself splurging (but still loving) Crunch Gym.

  •  Not only are there plenty of cardio machines, but there's also plenty of room to workout on your own, with no shortage of equipment to do everything from simple dumbbell curls to wall balls. Now that I'm dabbling in Crossfit, it feels good to have access to the same equipment without having to pay the painful Crossfit price. 
  • Amenities. This is what no other gym offered. Each locker room is equipped with Bliss products (they're my new favorite), mouthwash, Q-tips, tampons, and blow dryers. They also have a sauna, which was also nonexistent at other gyms I joined. 
  • Not into working out solo? No problem! The gym offers tons of creative classes that you can register for online, and they even have a dark spin room lit by a black light. Very Soul-Cycleish. 
  • Their website is very interactive. You create an account, set goals, and can monitor your progress online. So say your goal is to make it to the gym at least 3 times a week. Their site updates each time you scan your card to enter the gym and you can document what you did each visit on their site. It's a fun way to reach your goals!

  • At over $100 a month for an all access pass, Crunch is a bit pricey. Unless working out is something you're able to commit to enough to feel you've got your money's worth, you may want a cheaper option. 
  • Unlike Lucille Roberts, you can't just come to the gym and decide last minute to join in on a class; you have to sign up online ahead of time. And because Crunch is pretty popular, ClassPass users also sign up, so you gotta hurry!

All in all, I'm feeling good about my decision to join Crunch back in November. No matter which gym you choose, research is KEY! As with apartment hunting, you have to know exactly what you're looking for before you even start looking. 

Happy sweating!

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