You don’t go to Snap Fitness for the amenities, because, well, there usually aren’t any. With over 1,400 franchise locations, many of which are 24/7, Snap is all about ubiquity, access and just plain working out. Prices are typically in the $30 to $50 range per month for individuals, depending on location.
This chain of over one-hundred 24/7 suburban fitness centers is to the typical gym what Best Buy is to your local electronics store: big box fitness. Membership, which is in the sub-$100 range for individuals (month-to-month is available), gets you access to free classes, pool and sauna, the latest equipment and even two free hours of childcare per visit. It’s the sheer volume and variety of additional offerings, though, that set Life Time apart: it has performance-oriented training programs for sports like running, cycling and swimming; weight loss programs and health monitoring; in-house spa and cafe; and even its own tri series for you to test out that new bod.
The name says it all: this sprawling chain of franchise gyms has over 2,300 locations worldwide, all of which, it boasts, are open 24/7, 365 days a year—accessible by a special key given to all members. The low-cost membership—around $40 a month, depending on the location of your home gym—gets you access to the entire network. What you get is what you need for a simple, straightforward workout: cardio and strength training equipment that’s clean and available, free weights, online training tools and private bathrooms instead of crowded locker rooms. True, you won’t get group classes or a hip smoothie bar, but you won’t have to pay for those either.
When Crunch opened its first location in 1989, it set out on a simple mission: to make exercise fun. Crunch is all about being a judgment-free zone. Members never feel intimidated because Crunch has created a “culture of fun” and a workout space where everyone is welcome. By offering classes like Urban Rebounding (where participants “bounce through the rigors of city life” on a mini trampoline), Fat Burning Ballet (classic ballet with the intensity turned up), and Total Request Ride (members pick the spin class playlist, Carson Daly not included) crunch has trashed the perception of what a traditional workout should be and made the gym-going experience more enjoyable for the average exerciser.
In 2011 DailyFinance.com declared LA Fitness as one of the best gym memberships for your money. So it comes as no surprise that our readers (who chose cost as the most important factor when it comes to choosing a gym) voted LA Fitness as one of the top big box gyms on our list. Their current online promotion offers new members a $99.99 initiation fee and a no-contract $29.99 monthly payment. Below average monthly dues doesn’t mean LA Fitness skimps out on amenities though. Some clubs are open 24-hours a day and all feature complimentary group fitness classes, indoor heated pools and saunas, full locker room facilities, personal training, babysitting services, and juice bars.
With new classes like “Thor’s Thunder Workout,” the “Train Like a Tribute” Hunger Games themed routine, and their signature high-intensity interval program called UXF, TSI takes pride in creating a community atmosphere that offers its members interesting and inventive ways to workout. Parent to New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs, Washington Sports Clubs, and Philadelphia Sports Clubs, TSI operates more than 155 East Coast clubs with close to 500,000 members. Exercisers on a tight schedule tout TSI gyms for their convenient “Xpress Line” 22-minute total body workout, which targets every major muscle group with a simple eight-station circuit.
No doubt, the YMCA is way more than just a gym. Its roots go all the way back to 1844 when it was developed to emphasize the practice of Christian principles through the achievement of a healthy “body, mind and spirit.” Today, YMCA clubs are centered on providing members with a caring community and an environment that makes fitness available to exercisers of all ages and abilities. And their dedication to encouraging healthier lifestyles goes beyond just exercise. Clubs also offer access to programs that cover everything from chronic disease and injury rehab to pregnancy and wellness coaching.
Known for offering members a high-end exercise experience, Equinox caters to the gym-goer in search of more than just a place to work out. In addition to forward-thinking fitness programs and top-notch personal trainers and exercise instructors, Equinox clubs across the country offer spa amenities and wellness treatments; access to stylish active wear via their in-house shops; and locker rooms stocked with high-quality skin and hair care products by Kiehl’s. To put it quite simply, one reader commented, “I love the Equinox experience.”
Stealing the second-place chain gym spot on our list, 24 Hour Fitness has been noted time and time again for its convenience and affordability. With more than 400 U.S. locations, most of which are open 24 hours a day, it’s really no exaggeration to say that 24 Hour Fitness members can workout anywhere, anytime. Most locations offer a wide range of group exercise classes like boot camp, cycling, kickboxing, and Zumba, and some clubs even offer extra amenities like heated pools, racquetball courts, saunas, steam rooms, and massage therapy.
Strength and staying power are two virtues that Gold’s knows a lot about. Since the opening of its first location in 1965, the fitness giant has expanded to serve more than 3 million members in 38 states across the U.S. and 28 countries across the world. The gym is dedicated to providing its members with effective strength-building programs and was noted in Fitness Magazine’s 2010 list of the best gyms in America for having exceptional availability of free weights, expert personal trainers, and innovative strength-building group exercise classes.