1. The Membership Gym:
This is your typical 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, LA fitness, Planet Fitness. At most of these gyms the whole point is to make sure that you buy a membership for a long term and never really use it. Unless you sign up for personal training the accountability and motivation is on you, and most people just don’t have enough to get to the gym as often as they need to, to get results. I am not trying to throw any of these business models under the bus, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of them have hundreds of thousands of dollars in overhead that they have to come up with every month and if all the people that they signed up actually used the gym there would not be enough room for them to even walk around. If you are looking for a membership and you think you will use all the amenities like the pool or basketball court, cardio equipment or showers then this is a great option for you. There are some cheaper options out there but they have less amenities and might not even have showers but if all you are looking for is a place to do cardio and lift weights they are out there, just less common.
THE PERSONAL TRAINING:
The training at most of these big box gyms is one-on-one training where you will meet with a member of the sales staff and they will sell you a package of personal training and drop the hourly rate if you buy more sessions in one sitting. A majority of the time this person you meet with initially is not qualified to even talk to you about training. This is just a sales guy trying to make a commission by using hard sales tactics and selling you into a training package that you are not even sure you want in the first place. You will then meet with a trainer that is not actually required by the facility to even have a certification of any kind, and if they are, it is a certification that is the bare minimum in terms of education. These staff members are, in most cases, paid minimum wage or a little bit above that and the turnover rate ends up being really high. I have witnessed (because my first job was at one of these gyms) and heard horror stories from countless numbers of clients that have experienced training at these gyms about trainers yelling at clients, texting during sessions, not paying any attention to their clients, showing up late or not even showing up at all. There are some big boxes that actually hire qualified staff. These gyms are normally call themselves “athletic clubs”. I have known most athletic clubs to hire college educated trainers and pay them well. So, if you are looking for one-on-one personal training then an athletic club is one good option.
THE GROUP TRAINING:
Group training at most of the big boxes is done in large class settings. Classes like spin, boot camps, body pump or yoga. These classes are structured so that the instructor is doing the class in front of the group so you get little to no correction or attention from that instructor. If you want to get a cardio workout in a large group this may be a good option for you, though I do not suggest lifting weights in a large group such as this. Some big boxes offer small group personal training as it is becoming more popular, but I have not seen much and it seems to be relatively unorganized and is dependent on the one trainer that is running it and not the gym.
2. The 24 hour access gym:
Not to be confused with 24 Hour Fitness which is technically a 24 hour access gym. A 24 hour access gym or a ‘key card” gym like an Anytime Fitness or Snap Fitness. These gyms are variable depending on what the owner wants to do with their franchise. They vary in size and equipment but the one thing they all have in common is that you can use them at any time of day or night with your key card. Most have any cardio equipment you would need.
THE PERSONAL TRAINING:
Like the equipment in a lot of these facilities, the personal training is pretty variable depending on what the owner of that specific franchise location wants to do.They could have group training, private or large group it just depends. This is an option that is kind of hit and miss when it comes to personal training.