How to Find the Perfect Gym

Whether you're just starting out or are an experienced exerciser, the place where you work out can make all the difference in the world. Get-Fit Guy describes 6 types of fitness facilities and has 4 tips to help you find the perfect one for you.

Ben Greenfield
6-minute read
Episode #156

If you’ve ever done an online search for a local gym, driven through your neighborhood in search of an exercise facility, or visited a variety of health clubs to find the exercise setting that is perfect for you, then you’re probably aware that the right gym can make an enormous difference between enjoying your workouts and staying motivated, and dreading going to a place that makes you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious.

See also: How to Make a Home Gym.

So if you’re looking for the perfect gym, or you’re confused about the difference between a health club, gym, studio, community center, YMCA, Crossfit box or any other variation of an exercise facility, then this episode is for you. You’re going to discover the difference between the various types of gyms and get 4 tips to find the perfect gym for you!

Fitness Facility #1: Personal Training Studio

A personal training studio is typically a small gym that is staffed by a few certified personal trainers who work with you one-on-one, or work with you in a small group of people who have similar goals or fitness levels as you. Typically, when you join a personal training studio, each of your visits is supervised by a personal trainer, and you often can’t simply show up and work out on your own. At the same time, however, because each workout is supervised, you’re guaranteed to get fast results, experience very little guesswork during your workouts, and have the peace of mind that your training program is being overseen by an experienced exercise professional. As you can imagine, a private personal training studio experience can be expensive, but if you’re just getting started or you have lofty fitness goals, this can be one of the best ways to get what you need.

Fitness Facility #2: Circuit Gym

Circuit gyms are typically set up as a series of weight machines, workout gear, and cardiovascular equipment designed to work each of your body parts in a specific period of time. When you’re exercising at a circuit gym, you typically show up, do the circuit (which is often set for 30, 45, or 60 minutes) then leave. Some circuit gyms have set times during which you show up and complete the circuit as an individual or with a group, and other circuit gyms let you show up and do the circuit whenever you’d like. Examples of circuit gyms include Burn 60 and Barry’s Bootcamp – although many circuit “gyms” aren’t really gyms at all but simply boot camp style classes that take place in parks or other public meeting settings.

Fitness Facility #3: Women’s Only Gym

Curves is probably the most popular example of a women’s only gym (incidentally, it also falls into the category of a circuit gym).  In 30 minutes, you work each of your major muscle groups as you go through a program of strength training, cardio, and stretching with a group of other women. If you’re a woman and a co-ed weight room is intimidating or annoying, a gym like Curves may be a perfect fit for you. TotalWomenSpa and LadiesOfAmerica are other examples of women’s only gyms.

Fitness Facility #4: CrossFit Box

CrossFit is a popular style of exercise that combines elements such as strength training, high intensity cardio intervals, and gymnastics in a workout of the day, or WOD. Most CrossFit gyms resemble a cross between a gymnastics studio, a garage gym, and a sports training facility. CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, and martial artists – so if you have a personal interest or participation in these type of athletic activities, CrossFit may be especially appealing to you, although it can certainly be quite intimidating if you’re just arriving on the fitness scene.

Fitness Facility #5: Garage or Warehouse Gym

A garage or warehouse gym is typically an inexpensive, no-frills place that often has no water fountains, no towels, no locks for lockers and offers very basic, inexpensive exercise equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, or a well-used exercise machine or treadmill. They often have limited hours and a very specific type of old-school, bodybuilding, or weightlifting focused clientele. It's a very Pain and Gain atmosphere. However, these no-frills gyms are also the most economical option. If you’re just looking for something extremely basic and inexpensive, you may find this setting works well for you. Just be sure to shower well afterwards.

Fitness Facility #6: Health Club

From LA Fitness to 24 Hour Fitness to the YMCA, health clubs offer you everything from childcare to swimming programs to group fitness classes to frequently updated and new workout equipment. Many of the fancier clubs even have amenities such as spas, saunas, eucalyptus-scented towels, free WiFi, tennis courts, valet parking, and even dry cleaning, but you’ll pay a premium price for these offerings. My gym of choice is the YMCA, since it seems to have a more personal, family touch, but also offers many of the amenities of fancier clubs. Some purist, old-school gym rats scoff at the idea of a clean, pristine gym setting and may not be motivated by this atmosphere, but I’ve found that a health club seems to be the best choice for most people who want variety.

Now that you’re familiar with the gym settings you may find in your neighborhood or city, here are 4 quick and dirty tips to choose an exercise setting that is perfect for you:


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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