Your guide to finding a fitness center

Your guide to finding a fitness center

Editor’s note: Before starting a new diet or strenuous physical activities, be sure to get clearance from your primary care physician.

As the pandemic eases, many Americans are returning to gyms or joining fitness centers. With so many options, it can be confusing to determine what gym is right for you. Here is a guide to different types of gyms, what they offer, and some price points to help you make the best decision for your fitness journey.

Big box gyms. These are corporate gym chains with locations in many cities. They offer a bit of everything, from cardio equipment to weights to personal training to group classes. They range from budget gyms to luxury gyms and spas. Prices vary by location and type of membership and may have some initiation fees to get started.

Some of the most well known gym chains are Planet Fitness (starting at $10 per month), Gold’s Gym (ranging from $20 to $100), LA Fitness ($30), 24 Hour Fitness (ranging from $33 to $47), YMCA (starting at $30, varying by location and type of membership), Curves ($35 to $55), Anytime Fitness (starting at $40), Crunch Fitness ($70 to $120) and Equinox ($200 to $300).

Boutique gyms. These gyms vary by location and usually aren’t big chains. They offer many of the same services and equipment as big box gyms, but are generally smaller with a sense of community. Prices vary based on location and services and can be more expensive than their corporate rivals, but they may be a good fit for someone looking for a more unique experience or who’d rather not be part of a large establishment.

Personal training facilities. If you’re looking solely to train with a professional trainer, these are great options to keep the price low. Typically the facility charges the trainer, and the client has a separate payment arrangement. These types of studios usually have seasoned trainers who’ve branched out on their own, creating more flexibility. Some spaces offer client memberships as well; others require a trainer to be there with you.

CrossFit gyms. Also known as “boxes,” these gyms use high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to incorporate movements from various disciplines into the regimen. Examples include rowing, air bike, burpees, jump rope, Olympic and power lifts, deadlifts, squats, and cleans, jerks and snatches. To be considered a CrossFit gym, it needs to have at least one trainer who’s certified to be Level 1 (CF-L1). Boxes are community-based and create a lot of friendly competition, but beware of injury if you push yourself beyond your skill level or have an inexperienced coach. This option is for more advanced users.

Women’s gyms. Gyms such as Curves are women-only spaces where ladies can work up a sweat without judgment or unwanted attention. They offer the same equipment you’d find at big box gyms, including weights, cardio machines and group fitness classes, plus an empowering, supportive environment.

Group fitness studios. These studios offer large classes led by a certified instructor who will coach you through the workout. Often with limited equipment, studios will specialize in one type of class, while others host a variety. The most popular classes include spinning, yoga, Pilates, barre, boot camps and HIIT classes. Group fitness can be extremely fun and motivating.

Home gyms. Some people prefer the convenience of working out at home. Weights, bands, medicine balls and other fitness accessories are easy to purchase online or at local sporting-goods stores. There are also good deals on used equipment. Find guidance on workouts from personal trainers who make house calls, using fitness apps or following YouTube videos.

Whatever type of fitness center or home gym you choose, these workouts all count toward activities for The American Legion’s 100 Miles For Hope challenge. There is still time to register, complete the goal of 100 activities and support the Veterans & Children Foundation. Learn more and register at

Army veteran Jennifer Campbell is a certified personal trainer and holds a master’s degree in nutrition education. She works with veterans and civilians, from elite athletes to those just starting their fitness journey. She is commander of American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, Calif.