At some point in every fitness freak's gym career, they will look back and say to themselves "Damn, I've spent a lot of time in the gym." In my case, not only have I spent a lot of time in the gym (like A LOT a lot), I have been pretty unbiased in my allegiances (you might say I get around). Here is my professional opinion about some of the joints I've dropped a weight or two at:
Trevor Linden Fitness (Club16)/She's Fit
membership cost: $15-$25/mo.
facilities: Clean, well maintained, new equipment. Like most gyms, too many treadmills, not enough squat racks. Bathrooms are clean, gym is bright and open, though there are issues with locker break-ins, oddly enough. There is a women's-only side (She's Fit) if you require a little more privacy. Unlimited tanning is available for an extra $5 per month. They do not offer classes, per se, but do offer a lunch hour circuit training program.
clientele: You get a real mixed bag, but the majority of exercisers fall in to the "college student" category. Low price-points and fairly central locations make it accessible to all. At times there is a frustrating mix of newbies with no sense of gym etiquette, hard-cores with no sense of consideration, and social butterflies with no sense of purpose.
staff: Staff are young, friendly, and helpful. There are no "in-house" personal trainers there, but the staff seems knowledgable at a basic level and are a good resource for beginners.
value rating: 7/10 - Good staff, clean facilities, low fees
membership cost: $40-$60/mo.
facilities: Depending on the age of the facility, the equipment is reasonably new and well maintained. You will notice extra wear and tear from the volume of use, but on whole, it is reasonably clean accessible. They tend to pack A LOT of equipment in to a little space, but have a good variety. You are going to wish there was more space. Bathrooms are clean and large and there is a pool, which is a nice feature. They also have a gymnasium where they run various sports, health, and other programs. This is included in your membership.
clientele: A decidedly youthful and international flavour. Frequent sprinklings of the super fit senior and many cardio warriors. This is actually a gym that could stand to gain more cardio equipment, though there is no where to put it because they are maxing out their space as it is. This space gets INSANELY busy at peak hours, to the point where I have walked 20 minutes to get there and just said "F-it" and left without a workout.
staff: The instructors are good, but in general I find the staff at the YMCA and YWCA to be somewhat disinterested and apathetic. They seem very hands off and unwilling to go out of their way to be helpful. There are personal trainers offered at the YMCA and YWCA. In fairness, I have not had a session with any of them, so cannot speak to their abilities. When reviewing their qualifications, I find them to often be new to the industry. This can be a plus however, as you will get an enthusiastic trainer with good intentions.
value rating: 6/10 - Good facilities & activities, but cramped quarters and disinterested staff
Steve Nash Sports Club
membership cost: $70-$110/mo.
facilities: Extremely large facilities with plenty of space. Equipment is clean and new, though often "under repair." There is a pool offered at one location an outrageous amount of cardio equipment offered at all. Their equipment includes many of the industry's newest and trendiest. They offer classes (included) in spinning, yoga, dance, group training, etc, though oddly enough, none of the "Sports Clubs" include any facilities to do sports. The gym space is usually very clean, but the locker rooms and surprisingly unkempt. Used towels overrun the floors and the wait for showers can be aggravating.
clientele: Here is where you lose me. These gyms attract young, single professionals. Lululemon is strongly encouraged (required?) and sleeves need not apply. If you are single and looking to pick up, you are going to love this gym. It does get busy around peak hours, but it is not lacking space, so if you can be creative with your workouts, you'll never be sitting, waiting, and cursing someone under your breath for being on the equipment you need.
staff: The staff is knowledgeable and engaging. They go out of their way to be helpful and are very approachable. You will be hard-pressed to find a better group of personal trainers and class instructors than you get at Steve Nash Sports Clubs. They are knowledgable, experienced, and usually extremely well-certified. Continued training and skills and knowledge improvement are strongly encouraged.
value rating: 7/10 - Facilities & staff that are 2nd to none, but it's pricey & a little douchey
Steve Nash Fitness World
membership cost: $20-$35/mo.
facilities: While most of the facilities have been given a facelift since the merge between Steve Nash and Fitness World, I still find them to be worn, dated, and cramped. The locker rooms and showers often have serious cleanliness issues and could use more care and attention. The machines are maintained, though dated and uninspiring; the same goes for the cardio equipment. Classes are offered as part of the membership cost, though popular classes can be cramped, given small spaces.
clientele: I don't know why, but these gym seem to attract the middle aged, fitness crowd. I think it may be to do with the fact that original memberships are grandfathered in (I know a gentleman who pays $7/mo because he was one of the original members), and they refuse to give up such a great deal. You will find a good portion of the membership occupying the cardio section, which is good, because there is not a lot by way of free-weights. These gyms are everywhere though, and there is likely one right around the corner from your house. So they are convenient.
staff: The front desk staff is always friendly and helpful. The personal training staff is definitely a mix of new trainers and, shall we see, seasoned trainers (from the old-school). While I have seen some quality training sessions be administered, I have also had to bear witness to cringe-worthy sessions that have me questioning the legitimacy of the industry.
value rating: 5/10 - The price is right, but everything else will test your commitment
membership cost: $35-$55/mo.
facilities: GoodLife fitness is known for having large facilities. They are spacious, though maybe slightly dated. The machines and equipment are well maintained and the atmosphere is un-intimidating and focus-oriented. There is a good variety of equipment for beginners and experienced exercisers alike and many of the gyms have a women-only area. Facilities are clean and well-maintained. Group classes are available and included in membership.
clientele: Attracts the young to middle aged crowd who wants to come in, do their work, and get out, back to real life. Peak hours are busy, but a good amount of space allows for uninhibited workouts so you do not feel squeezed.
staff: Call them. They will answer with "It's a great day at GoodLife", and this really does set the tone. Customer service and friendliness is a clear mandate. Personal trainers are knowledgeable and well trained, and on average, probably provide the 2nd best training services in the box-gym industry. Instructors are all Les Mills certified and friendly and knowledgeable.
value rating: 8/10 - Facilities & staff are welcoming, lots of space, somewhat dated
membership cost: $30-$80/mo.
facilities: Gold's Gym is, by reputation, a body builder's gym, and so they offer an ARMY of machines, and also offer plenty of free weights. The spaces are usually large and clean, and if you are ok with the colour yellow, they are sufficient for whatever you need to do. Gold's Gyms are also strictly franchised, so different gyms offer different additions (for example, some gym offer a multitude of heavy bags and mixed martial arts training equipment). This also accounts for the large discrepancy in monthly fees.
clientele: Usually, Gold's Gyms attract the body-builder, string tank top, big sweats, Timberland wearing types...or the wannabe's thereof (basically, the Planet Fitness commercial stereotype). However, this type of atmosphere is IDEAL if you are serious about your lifting and want to push yourself. You do not generally find newbies at Gold's Gyms because of this reputation and therefore only have to put up with inconsiderate weight dropping and grunting, though at least nobody will walk into the end of your bar while you're deadlifting.
staff: The staff often reflects the clientele (physically anyways). But I have to laugh, because every time I do go in to a Gold's I expect Muscle-Mania or Bronzed-Barbie who's at reception to be a jerk, but they are always super nice and helpful (just goes to show you, don't judge a book by its cover). Some gyms allow outside trainers to rent the space, some provide in-house training. Many trainers seem to focus on body-building (when in Rome) and seem to know what they are doing in that faculty. Gold's offers classes as well, though I have never taken one there.
value rating: 9/10 - Great facilities, good staff, not as many facilities available
So there are my ratings. Did I reflect your gym's score accurately? Are there other gyms that you would like to add to the last? What are your ratings?