10 Great Fitness Clubs You’ll Want to Join

October 31, 2011

Americans have never had more choices in terms of fitness clubs. All hours access, hula-dancing classes, mountain biking field trips…you name it, the best clubs in the business offer these and more.

Curious as to who the heavy hitters are? Well we compiled a list based on a number of factors. Some made the list for size and convenience, some for atmosphere, some for creative services. We tried to give a comprehensive view of the complete fitness experience:

1. Equinox – A head above the rest, Equinox combines perks, full-service and fastidiously clean facilities. With clubs on the east and west coasts (as well as Chicago and Dallas) Equinox has a strong share of the market. It may not have as many outlets as 24-hour fitness, but each club is a unique gem.

The tag line- It’s Not Fitness It’s Life sums up the comprehensive programming Equinox offers. Members can join the ‘Conscious Movement’ and take advantage of workshops and classes showcasing science-based research on cutting edge topics including “mental engagement, music, breath work, movement quality, community and respect to life”. They offer this, and state-of-the art equipment to boot!

2. Lifetime Fitness – This Minnesota-based company has come up strong in the last few years. While expanding its clubs throughout the country, Lifetime has still maintained clean, inviting facilities that continue to draw members in.

Lifetime strives to create a “day spa” experience with inviting “Life Cafés” that sell nutritional and delicious meal choices along with creative smoothies and protein drinks. The in-house spas offer the full range of amenities.

Lifetime also sets itself apart by providing indoor tennis facilities at a number of its clubs, a big plus in the cold weather cities.

3. 24 Hour Fitness – We’ve got to give a nod to the one of the biggest of them all. 24 Hour Fitness is the largest privately held fitness chain. Its 400+ clubs can be found in 17 states (as well as in Asia as “California Fitness” ).

The first in the market to offer 24/7 access, 24 Hour Fitness offers the gambit of fitness classes and a range of clubs from high-end offerings to just the basics.

4. Curves – The popular women-only fitness clubs are tapping into the wave of baby boomers who are realizing that fitness needs to be a part of a healthy life. Curves has boosted its success by appealing to those just getting into exercise and by providing a comfortable atmosphere for women who would not otherwise join a gym.

The 30-minute strength and cardio workout is an ideal platform for this no-frills chain, along with the plethora of educational and motivational resources to help women get and stay on a healthy track.

5. The Sports Club/LA – While it only has clubs in Southern and Northern California, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Miami, The Sports Club/LA is a magnificent example of how glitz can boost workout appeal.

At nearly any time you visit you can find yourself sweating next to the hottest (and fittest) celebs and if you need inspiration, the general membership population looks like a gathering of People® Magazine’s most beautiful people.

The Sports Club offers a hip L.A. vibe. If you’ve never been, check it out — it may be the reason you re-locate. New York Magazine calls it “the purest expression of gymness ever built.” Enough said.

6. Crunch – Looking to try anti-gravity yoga? Search no further than Crunch. Our number 6 candidate is the premier club in terms of pushing the fitness program envelope. Consider these choices: surf and ski trips, pole dancing, yoga in the park, and cooking classes all provide enough options for even the pickiest fitness enthusiasts.

The staff of these 31 state-of-the-art gyms are constantly finding new ways to intertwine entertainment and fitness. While they aren’t in a majority of states, the franchises do bring a spark of innovation to the areas where they are located. Their newest invention? A mid-day reenergizing class, complete with naptime.

7. Gold’s Gym – This one-time gym rat weight room facility located in Venice Beach has morphed into a family-friendly global gym that caters to people of all ages.

Gold’s boasts a culture of personal training that helps members reach the next level of their health goals, whether training for a marathon, getting fit after pregnancy, or learning how to prevent disease. Most recently, Gold’s has paired with AARP to develop programs specifically designed for seniors.

With 600 locations across the globe, Gold’s is the largest co-ed gym in the world.

8. YMCA – While not high on the luxury factor, YMCA’s can be found in nearly every community across the country (10,000 nationwide). Members can get fit at an affordable price and enjoy programming that goes beyond the gym into the community.

We simply couldn’t ignore the ultimate family-friendly aspect of these clubs that have been around for over 160 years.

9. David Barton Gym – The high-ranking list-maker in terms of ambience and architecture. Each David Barton Gym is a work of art. The facilities are impeccable and ultra cool.

If you are looking for an unmatched spoil-yourself fitness experience, David Barton Gym is it. The only down side? You have to live in New York, Miami, Chicago, Seattle or Las Vegas to enjoy the grandeur.

10. Anytime Fitness – You’re not going to get any special programs here but what you will get is 24/7 access and affordability. This is the perfect gym for people who have busy schedules and aren’t looking for all the added bells and whistles. Anytime Fitness’ growth shows how popular these inexpensive and easy facilities are – oh, and they currently open a new location every business day.

As is evident by our list, choices abound in every aspect (traditional and next tier) of health clubs. While they may range widely in differences, all have in common the use of health club management software that makes it easier than ever for members to connect and enjoy the fitness experience.

Do you have a candidate that deserves special notice? Let us know and we’ll expand the list!