Everything You Need to Know to Find the Best Gym Membership for You in 2022 – Sports Illustrated

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Gyms deliver everything you need to reach your fitness goals, from the latest equipment to expert guidance. While exercising at home may be convenient, a gym’s environment and scope of workout options offer a different experience. With a gym membership you can try a wide range of equipment and machines to find the routine that works for you. If you need a little help, gyms provide knowledgeable staff to point you in the right direction, including options for personal training with a certified specialist and group classes like spin or yoga. The atmosphere of a gym can create a high-energy setting to motivate and inspire you. There are many gym franchises to choose from, so finding the right one for your needs can be overwhelming. We’ve broken down the best national gym membership picks with all the important details you need to help you find the one that fits your lifestyle and fitness objectives. 
Blink Fitness
If you want to join a fitness club but have a limited budget, Blink Fitness is a good gym option at an affordable price with 100 locations nationwide and more in development. Basic memberships start as low as $10/month. With the gym’s “Blue” membership (starting as low as $25/month), members get access to almost all locations across the county. The brand is also known for its affordable certified personal training sessions which start as low as $30 for a half hour session.
While memberships at Blink Fitness may be budget-friendly, the gym does not hold back when it comes to state-of-the-art equipment. At many Blink locations, you’ll find over 80 exercise machines including treadmills, ellipticals, steppers, rowers and stationary bikes. This budget gym option also provides popular equipment including selectorized and plate-loaded machines, squat racks, power racks, cable crossovers, Smith machines, dumbbells (up to 90 pounds) and olympic benches. In multi-use stretch areas guests have access to battle ropes, stability balls, kettlebells, foam rollers, Bosu balls, TRX equipment and resistance bands. There are also functional training areas where members can find equipment for HIIT and bodyweight workouts.
Select Blink locations offer group classes and premium memberships come with a free membership to the Blink app, an app that provides over 500 on-demand classes including yoga, cycling, dance, running and more.
Blink Fitness strives to create a “feel good” and “body positive” environment. The gyms are covered in colors that have been scientifically linked to elevating mood and special lighting fixtures are designed to keep visitors energized by simulating sunlight. The gym brand is also committed to providing a clean environment.
Purchase Blink Fitness Membership
If you need a gym membership that can be used throughout the United States and beyond, Planet Fitness may be a convenient and accessible fit. The franchise has over 2,300 locations with gyms in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Panama, Mexico and Australia, with many clubs open 24/7.
A Planet Fitness Black Card membership (starting around $24.99/month), gives you access to all Planet Fitness locations and other perks, including the ability to bring a guest any time. Black Card members also get use of massage chairs, HydroMassage, tanning beds and Total Body Enhancement (red light therapy). You can also opt for the Classic membership which starts as low as $10 per month for access to one gym only.
While each Planet Fitness varies, franchise locations offer state-of-art cardio machines, expansive strength training equipment, free weights and fitness classes. Many locations offer PE@PF, a training program that provides small group classes with options such as orientation, stretch, core, upper body, lower body, PF360 Burn (cardio class) and PF360 Strength (strength training class). Additionally, PE@PF’s 30-minute circuit class is a popular option that utilizes 10 strength machines and 10 cardio-step stations for a full body workout. Classes can be booked through the free Planet Fitness app or in person. The app can also be used to take on-demand virtual classes, track progress and check club capacity.
For more in-depth information, check out our Planet Fitness review
Planet Fitness prides itself on cleanliness and has received the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). The rating verifies that Planet Fitness makes health and safety a priority through third-party assessment that looks at air flow, hand washing practices, cleaning protocols, emergency preparedness and more.
Planet Fitness aims to help members achieve their fitness goals in a “Judgment Free Zone®” that prioritizes a sense of community, respect and acceptance for all members.
Purchase Planet Fitness Membership
With over 4,700 locations on all 7 continents, Anytime Fitness is helping people crush their workouts all over the world. Members get access to all clubs globally which makes Anytime Fitness gym memberships ideal for frequent travelers. (You can use any gym worldwide after 30 days of membership.)
While equipment varies by club, options may include treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes, stair climbers, rowing machines, free weights, racks, Synergy 360 systems, cable crossovers, kettlebells and more. Some Anytime Fitness locations offer personal training with certified personal trainers, available one-on-one or in small groups of two to four people. Classes such as Zumba, cardio, body conditioning and yoga are available at many franchise locations. Anytime Fitness has also developed its own unique group workout program with classes including:
When it comes to amenities, all Anytime Fitness clubs have bathrooms and showers, with many locations offering lockers and some offering tanning and hydromassage beds. At some clubs, you’ll find free Wi-Fi and cardio TVs to help keep you entertained as you workout. The gym franchise does not offer steam rooms, saunas, basketball courts or swimming pools.
Anytime Fitness has designed its brand to be “Real AF” which means providing flexible options globally to support your goals and fit your lifestyle.
Purchase Anytime Fitness Membership
Equinox is a luxury fitness destination that offers a wide range of state-of-art equipment, fitness classes, personal training, fully stocked locker rooms, an app with on-demand content and spa services. The brand’s facilities are found in locations including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, London and Toronto. The fitness franchise breaks its club into three levels: Equinox Fitness Club, Equinox Sports Club and E by Equinox, the most indulgent and personalized club tier.
As a new member, you’ll get a range of perks including a complimentary fitness assessment, personal training session, one-on-one Pilates session and 15% off your first purchase at The Shop.
Equinox’s experienced personal trainers have received over 150 hours of education and can help you reach your goals with in-person or virtual sessions. In addition to personal training, Equinox fitness and health clubs offer one-on-one Pilates and Tier X Coaching, a “full lifestyle management” program that guides you with a customized plan for both fitness and nutrition.
All Equinox locations offer group classes with choices including boxing and kickboxing, stretch and recovery, barre, swimming pool workouts, cycling, Pilates, dance, yoga and more. Members also get access to unlimited on-demand classes such as SoulCycle, [solidcore], TB12, PURE Yoga, Precision Run and HeadStrong meditations through the Equinox+ app.
Premium amenities help elevate the Equinox guest experience. Locker rooms are stocked with popular brands such as Kiehl’s and Curie. Members can unwind in the locker room saunas and take advantage of towel service. Many Equinox destinations have full-service spas with treatments including massages and facials to help you relax and recover before or after your workout. Select clubs also have swimming pools, jacuzzis, basketball courts and snack/smoothie bars.
Equinox prioritizes safety and cleanliness. All Equinox clubs are outfitted with Hyper Hepa Filtration to help provide better air quality by reducing dust, allergens and virus particles. The clubs are rigorously cleaned throughout the day with medical grade disinfectants and hand sanitizer is available.
An exclusive membership at Equinox doesn’t come cheap. Many clubs require a $500 initiation fee and a 12-month commitment. (The initiation fee is waived during certain special periods, including through September 22 at select clubs.) Select Access memberships start around $200/month and Destination Memberships start around $330/month, giving you access to most locations.
Purchase Equinox Membership
With over 400 clubs around the world and over two million members, Crunch is popular for a variety of reasons, including its in-person class offerings which are available at every location.
A Peak membership (starting at $19.99) gets you unlimited classes including Pilates, Ride (cycling), TRX and yoga. Crunch also offers its own unique workouts including:
In addition to classes, most Crunch locations offer personal training (for an add-on price) with nationally certified trainers who can customize sessions for your needs whether you’re looking to run a marathon, lose weight, gain mobility or reach another fitness goal.
Crunch has two types of destinations in the US, Crunch Fitness (400 locations) and Crunch Signature (28 locations). Both destinations offer classes and premium fitness equipment. Signature destinations also have dedicated spin and yoga studios, as well as premier amenities with full service locker rooms, saunas, steam rooms and more.
Crunch members at all locations have access to a wide range of fitness equipment including weights, Olympic lifting platforms, and machines from top fitness brands including Lifefitness, Matrix, Star Trac, Nautilus, Throwdown, Hoist, and Stages. The Crunch setting is thoughtfully planned in a way that is meant to enhance your workout experience through lighting, music and design.
You can stay connected and in-the-know through the free Crunch app which allows you to set goals, track check-ins, get deals and more. The app is also useful for checking class schedules and reserving your spot in group sessions ahead of time.
Crunch’s tagline is “Crunch. No judgments,” and the brand aims to create an inviting, inclusive environment. “We are singularly focused on making serious fitness fun—from the awesome group fitness classes, to our rockstar trainers, to the entertaining environment,” says Chad Waetzig Executive Vice President, Marketing & Branding at Crunch.
Purchase Crunch Fitness Membership
When you think of Gold’s Gym, images of bodybuilders in Venice, California in the 1970s may come to mind, but today the gym franchise has over 600 locations around the world across six continents.
The first Gold’s Gym was opened by veteran and bodybuilder Joe Gold in Venice in 1965, and since then the gym franchise has established a reputation for a focus on weightlifting and strength. “Over the last 50-plus years, we have pioneered the culture around strength training and bodybuilding and have brought that legacy to each gym we operate,” says Danny Waggoner, Senior Vice President of Operations at Gold’s Gym.
Gold’s Gym locations are stocked with a wide range of strength training equipment, including gym80 weight machines from Germany at select gyms. Personal training and classes are also available at many locations. Offerings include cycling, yoga, HIIT and Les Mills classes. Popular group sessions include Les Mills Body Pump, a barbell-based weight lifting workout and Gold’sFit, a coach-led customized program that combines strength and endurance training.
While famous bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno have brought the spotlight to Gold’s Gym at times, the brand prides itself on being approachable for all levels, from beginners to advanced.
Purchase Gold’s Gym Membership
LA Fitness
LA Fitness was founded in 1984 and has expanded to over 700 locations with clubs in 26 states and Canada. The gym franchise’s mission is to help people achieve a healthier lifestyle at an affordable price while providing friendly service and a generous range of amenities.
While equipment varies by location, you’ll usually find a good selection of cardio machines like ellipticals, treadmills, cross trainers, stationary bikes and stair climbers. Weight rooms at LA Fitness generally have over 20,000 pounds of free weight options, including dumbbells, barbells, plate weights and resistance training equipment. LA Fitness also provides an assortment of selectorized machines, equipment that is useful for beginners because it allows you to safely complete different exercises while also helping you achieve proper form. Selectorized machines give you the ability to adjust your seat and pin loaded weights.
Each LA fitness location offers its own class schedule with options that may feature cycling, yoga, Zumba, kickboxing, power circuit, Pilates, senior classes, Aqua Fit (swimming pool workout), HIIT and more. Members get a complimentary certified professional fitness assessment to help establish goals and come up with a fitness plan. Additional sessions with a certified personal trainer are also available for an extra charge.
At select LA Fitness locations, guests can enjoy racquetball and basketball courts which can be reserved ahead of time. The gym network is also known for its club leagues, including basketball, volleyball and racquetball, providing the opportunity to build community and compete in tournaments.
Many LA Fitness locations are equipped with Junior Olympic size swimming pools where guests can enjoy classes and three lane lap swimming. Some locations also have relaxing amenities including spas and saunas.
Purchase LA Fitness Membership
According to the CDC, getting at least 150 minutes of exercise a week is important for overall health. A gym can provide you with the resources you need to help achieve your weekly exercise and health goals. While features will vary based on the gym, benefits of a gym may include:
Fitness facilities will vary from location to location, even within gym franchises. Some things to consider when looking for the best gym membership for your needs include:
Most gyms provide a range of fitness equipment including cardio machines, free weights and stretching tools. Equipment may include:
Many gyms provide unlimited free classes with membership. While classes will vary based on gym, some options include:
Some gyms offer free on-demand classes through their fitness apps. In addition to group classes, many gyms offer private personal training sessions or small group training sessions.
At some gyms it may be a good idea to book classes ahead of time to ensure your spot.
Gym hours vary from location to location, even within franchises. Some gyms have days where they are open 24 hours and others are open 24/7. It’s best to check directly with the gym to find out what hours they are open.
The gym franchises on this list have locations throughout the United States and globally. While some gym chains have just over 100 gym locations in their network, others have thousands of destinations.
Most fitness franchises have membership options that give you access to all their gyms around the world, but basic memberships are usually limited to just one local location. You can usually search by location on the gym franchise’s website to help determine if the locations are a good fit for you. If the choices on this list do not offer a convenient location for your needs, other options to consider include your local YMCA, 24 Hour Fitness and Life Time. 
Each gym has its own unique perks. These may include:
Your budget, location and needs will help determine the best gym membership prices available to you. Membership costs range from affordable options starting at $9.99/month to luxury memberships that can cost over $330/month.
Whether a gym membership is worth it to you, will vary based on your personal needs, budget and preferences. Some things to help you evaluate if it is worth joining a gym include:
Joining a gym provides a different experience than working out at home. Each has their own benefits. For instance, working out at home is convenient and gives you the option to workout whenever you want without having to travel to a new location. You also have control over cleanliness and can avoid certain health concerns. On the other hand, working out at a gym gives you the opportunity to take advantage of a wide range of equipment, amenities and in-person expert guidance. For some people gyms can provide a sense of community and opportunities to meet new friends. Whether it’s best to workout at home or join a gym will vary based on your own personal preferences and needs. 
Joining a gym can help propel your fitness routine to the next level. When selecting a gym, consider your personal goals, budget and location needs. Look for a gym where you feel welcome and motivated to show up and work out.
It’s a good idea to consult with your medical care provider when making changes to your health or fitness routine.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Lizzy Sherman is an award-winning digital content writer and editor. This author is writing sponsored content paid for by Pillar4 and not affiliated with Sports Illustrated. 


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