6 Best Gyms In The U.S.

6 Best Gyms In The U.S.

For some people, a gym is nothing more than a place where you go to walk on a treadmill with some buddies a few days a week. For others, a gym is a no-nonsense grunt-fest that is all about throwing the most weight around that you possibly can and carving your body into Mr. Olympia.

Most people fall somewhere in the middle, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about where they work out at. Pick the right gym, and you’ll have everything you need to get in shape; pick the wrong one, and you could find yourself in a contract that can be impossible to get out of.

If you’re one of the 45 million Americans that have a gym membership, this list will help you determine if you’ve picked a good one. Here is our list of the top six gyms in America (in no particular order).

1. Planet Fitness

With gym membership prices skyrocketing around the nation, Planet Fitness prices have managed to remain generally the same since they first launched in New Hampshire in 1992: about $10 per month. Today they have nearly 650 locations nationwide that serve about 4.5 million members annually.

Planet Fitness does not appeal to the hardcore gym goer – a fact reinforced by the gigantic “Lunk Alarm” that goes off if someone is grunting excessively or repeatedly drops their weights. With hardly any barbells or dumbbells of higher weights, Planet Fitness seeks to serve the average American who wants to simply lose weight and stay in good shape. With a low membership fee, low monthly prices, and a lot of cardio machines, this gym manages to accomplish that goal extremely well.

2. Gold’s Gym

In sharp contrast to Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym caters to the hardcore lifter – the one who wakes up with a bottle of protein powder in one hand and 40lb kettlebell in the other. Their flagship store opened in Venice Beach in 1965 (by none other than the “father of bodybuilding” himself, Joe Gold) but has since expanded to over 730 locations nationwide.

Inside, you’ll find dumbbells that go up to 150lbs, heavy punching bags, tires to flip, and a whole host of other torture devices that are sure to get your veins popping and your blood pumping. And at roughly only $25 a month on average, the price isn’t too heavy to lift for most either.

3. Anytime Fitness

If you’re someone who is constantly on the go, Anytime Fitness is most likely perfect for you. Whereas Planet Fitness has 650 locations and Gold’s Gym has 730, Anytime Fitness has over 3,000 locations nationwide, making it by far America’s most available gym. Unless you find yourself stuck in the Alaskan wilderness somewhere, you most likely have an Anytime Fitness nearby.

3,000 locations is a lot, but the expansion seems even quicker when you factor in that it only started in 2002. As one can expect, the sudden expansion can make for a disjointed workout experience from location to location, but for $40-$50 a month, you can have access day and night to any one of their clubs anywhere, even if there’s no one on staff.

4. 24-Hour Fitness

True to its name, 24-Hour Fitness specializes in scratching that workout itch no matter the time of day (or night). Wide awake in bed at 4 AM and wishing you could get in a few sets? 24-Hour Fitness has you covered.

24-Hour Fitness has over 400 clubs open nationwide, but almost all of them reside in on either the West or East Coast, or in Texas (sorry Midwest, no 24-Hour fitness for you). They have a proven track record of providing a quality workout experience since the 1980’s and offer below-average gym fees of about $30-$40 per month.

5. LA Fitness

With an average $100 sign-up fee, low monthly payments of about $30 a month, and no contracts to speak of, LA fitness offers a great opportunity to get a workout in at an affordable price. Founded during the fitness craze of the 1980’s, complete with leopard printed unitards and low-cut tank tops, LA Fitness began as a simple operation out of Irvine, California. Today, it claims more than 700 locations across most of the nation, but very few in the Mountain West region (Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, etc.).

LA Fitness’ rapid expansion has occurred mostly since the mid-90’s by acquiring lower-performing clubs and turning them into full-service health spas. Furthermore, LA Fitness has benefitted from developing their own brand of fitness equipment. Though gym enthusiasts love the wide selection of equipment available at almost any location, some pieces can be reserved only for trainers and not for general use. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a fancier, plusher nationwide gym chain anywhere else.

6. Lifetime Fitness

Though much more expensive than its gym counterparts – expect to pay about $80 for an initiation fee and $77 per month if you want access to all their locations – ask anyone who is a current member of Lifetime Fitness if the price is worth it, and you’ll most likely get a resounding “YES.” The large number of available machines, floor space, and staff is enough to give you the perfect workout anytime you want.

Founded in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area in 1990, Lifetime Fitness specializes in becoming a full-service health spa, with saunas, massage parlors, and even a food court in some locations. Although there are less than 200 locations nationwide, Lifetime Fitness is open 24 hours a day, allowing you to get a great workout anytime you need it.

Author: Aaron Townsend

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