So you’ve finally decided to join a gym… good for you! There are hundreds of gyms around the Big Apple and it’s important to choose the one that’s best for you. There are lots of factors when considering a gym (location, cost, benefits, etc.), so I will do the best I can to provide you with all the information you need to make the right choice. Today I’m going to start with the big chains.
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation – This facility has it all… they have a regular gym, a pool, fitness classes, and are located EVERYWHERE around the Big Apple. And to top it off, they’re dirt cheap!! A membership at a Parks & Recreation center is the most affordable I have ever seen… for a facility without a pool, it’s only $50 for the entire year! That’s less than most gyms charge per month!!! If you choose a facility with a pool, it’s still only $75 per year. Seniors only pay $10 per year (for either facility) and children are free!! The Dept. of Parks & Recreation is really an amazing organization and offers so much more beyond a gym facility… I highly suggest you check them out!!!
Planet Fitness – This gym is certainly a contender in the affordability department. Each facility is independently owned and therefore has its own membership rates, so the best way to look up the exact fees is by checking their website. Though, I can tell you that a basic membership is about $100-$120 a year. A general membership has no benefits besides the use of the facility. But for a little more you can get the PF Black Card, which grants you access to ANY Planet Fitness facility and all their perks for free or at a discount. They offer the basics in fitness equipment, with a good variety of cardio and strength training machines. They don’t have a pool or fitness classes, but they do have tanning booths and massage chairs. There are also only a couple PF’s in each borough, but more are opening up all the time! What I really like about them is their concept of a “no judgment zone”. The demographic ranges from fitness buffs to people who’ve never even been to a gym. No pressure, no hassle, no judgment… I love it!
YMCA – The YMCA is a bit more middle of the road when it comes to affordability. But they do offer a bunch of different membership options for different lifestyles. Children are only $85 for one year and teens are $120 for one year, with no start up fee for either. Fees for adults are $45 a month, seniors are $35 a month, and college kids are $36 a month, all with a $75 start up fee. They also have two different family options. For one adult and children, it’s $53 and a $75 start up fee. For two adults and children, it’s $75 and a $75 start up fee. The facilities are well equipped with strength training options and a variety of cardio equipment. They also offer all sorts of fitness classes, programs, and camps for the kids. And don’t forget the pool! Furthermore, they’re located all over NYC, so it wouldn’t be hard to find one near you!
New York Sports Club – New York Sports Club is like the Starbucks of gym facilities. Everywhere I go, there’s a NYSC!!! Their website is very sparse with information on membership fees, but I know from friends who work there that memberships start at about $75-$90 per month with an initiation fee of about the same price, depending on the type of package you get. It may be a pricier gym, but you get some added perks for the extra cost. Besides their convenient locations, NYSC offers group fitness classes, group training sessions, personal training, sports clubs for kids, pools, racquet sports, massages, saunas, steam rooms, and even a babysitting facility. Plus they have all the latest in fitness equipment. If you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, New York Sports Club is a good way to go!!
Equinox – If you’re looking for a low price tag, this is NOT the gym for you! Equinox has the feel of a private club while still being accessible to anyone (well, anyone who can afford it). They have all of the latest fitness equipment, a variety of personal training options, group fitness classes, yoga and pilates, spa services, and a pro shop. There’s also a pretty decent amount of facilities scattered around NYC. Like NYSC, they have no membership fee information online, but after doing a little research I learned that monthly fees range from $120-$165 and initiation fees range all the way up to $600. This is a great gym to join if you want a lot of perks and more exclusivity without joining a private club.
Bally Total Fitness – Bally’s is another fairly affordable gym that has a bunch of locations throughout the city. They have up to date fitness equipment, group fitness classes, and personal training. Currently they are offering a membership for $30 a month and no start up fee. As I was doing research on Bally’s, I came across a lot of people complaining about issues with their memberships. I can’t say for sure if this is a genuine thing to be concerned about with them… but like with any contract, read the fine print!
Curves – This is a gym for women… sorry boys! It’s also not the kind of gym you just go and do your own thing at. Joining Curves means joining a fitness and weight management program. It’s kind of like joining Jenny Craig, but for fitness. It’s great if you want more personalized attention and more structure. They also offer nutritional products, retail products, and Zumba fitness classes. I was surprised to see that there is good handful of these gyms around town. Memberships are between $20 and $50 a month, with a joining fee of up to $150. A good gym to start out with, ladies!!
Lucille Roberts – Like Planet Fitness, each facility is independently owned. So to see their membership fees, you can go to the website and click on the facility closest to you. In general, their fees break down to something like this: no commitment for about $10 a month with a $100 or $150 initiation fee, 2 year commitment for about $15-$20 a month and $10 initiation fee, or pay in full (1 year plus 1 year free) for $275 and up. This is another facility geared towards women, though it’s not as programmed as Curves is. But they do have weight loss coaching and lots of fitness classes. Facilities are also located all over the city, so this gym is definitely worth checking out!
Crunch – This gym seems to be mostly located in the lower Manhattan area. They have some facilities beyond that, but not many. This is a great gym to go to if you want to have a little fun while you work out. Crunch is pretty well known for their exotic classes. They have tons of different styles of dance class (everything from hip hop to African), belly dancing, pole dancing, striptease workouts, and burlesque! Not to mention their assortment of other types of fitness classes, like yoga or sports specific classes. Plus their facilities have all the latest gym equipment. General membership fees are about $100 and up per month with an initiation fee of about the same. They might be a little pricier, but if you’re looking for a place to work out that doesn’t FEEL like a workout, then this is the gym for you!
Please leave a comment if you think I’ve missed any other big chains!!