The Best Gym for Beginners to Start Their Fitness Journeys


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Finding the best gym for beginners is a difficult first step in your fitness journey. Since you don’t know what to look for, you could easily end up in the wrong environment. That’s why we created this guide — to help people find the perfect place to start their physical transformations. Here are the best gyms for beginners based on five key factors.

What Makes the Best Gym for Beginners?

First, let’s explain what specific qualities make a great gym for beginners. They just need a gym that covers the basics and allows them to build a strong foundation for future success.

Here are the five main qualities you should look for when browsing your local gyms:

  • Cheap Memberships: The most important factor when choosing a gym is the membership price. Beginners shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant weekly or monthly fees just to get their goals off the ground. Some gyms try to take advantage of newcomers by overcharging them or demanding a high down payment.
  • Flexible Hours: Gyms that open early in the morning or late at night are ideal for beginners because they accommodate people with busy schedules. You can easily find time for a daily workout while sticking to your other commitments. 24-hour gyms are even better.
  • Equipment Variety: The best gym for beginners has a strong variety of free weights, machines, cables and cardio equipment. It’s important for beginners to experiment with different exercises so they can craft an effective workout routine.
  • Personal Trainers: A team of personal trainers can help you improve your training fundamentals and clarify your fitness goals. Although you don’t have to hire a personal trainer, their presence in the gym is a great sign of the facility’s commitment to health and wellness.
  • Welcoming Environment: Finally, the gym needs to have a welcoming environment for newcomers. Some gyms are highly exclusive or too intense for beginners. Look for places with a more laid-back and casual atmosphere to start your fitness journey.

Based on these factors, here are the seven best gyms for beginners that will have the most positive impact on your fitness progress during its early stages.

1. Your Local Chain

As a general rule, local chains are better than regional or national chains. This rule applies to retail stores, restaurants and many other businesses. Gyms are no exception. Locally owned businesses are directly invested in their communities both socially and economically, which means they tend to have generous prices, hours and staff members.

Here are the local gym chains in some major American cities:

  • New York City: New York Sports Club
  • Los Angeles: Bay Clubs
  • Chicago: Fitness Formula Clubs
  • Boston: Lynx Fitness Club
  • St. Louis: Club Fitness
  • Miami: Prestige Fitness
  • Denver: Denver Gym & Fitness
  • Seattle: The Seattle Gym
  • Washington DC: VIDA Fitness

Local gyms are also more likely to have a welcoming atmosphere. Regional and national chains attract bigger crowds, which can be intimidating for beginners. Local chains are usually smaller facilities that have the same members year in and year out. You should feel more comfortable in the latter environment.

2. Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness advertisement

If there’s one national gym chain that’s perfect for beginners, it’s Planet Fitness. No other gym can match PF’s low membership prices for all patrons. The Classic membership is only $10 per month with a $1 down payment. The Black Card membership is $24.99 per month, but you get access to every facility in the country and can bring a guest free of charge.

Planet Fitness also has several strict policies that are designed to deter obnoxious people and create a casual atmosphere for newcomers. The famous “lunk alarm” prevents people from yelling or slamming weights during their workouts, and the dress code ensures that everyone wears appropriate exercise clothing.

3. Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness is arguably the best gym for beginners for several reasons. As the name suggests, the gyms are open 24 hours a day and members can access any location in the country. The average membership cost is $41 per month in the United States and $53 in Canada, but they can get as low as $29.99.

Another reason to choose Anytime Fitness is the business’s franchise model. Small business owners can independently operate their AF facilities, which allows them to create an atmosphere that fits with the local culture. They can offer personal training programs, fitness evaluations and monitoring systems that help members track their progress.

4. 24 Hour Fitness

People working out

24 Hour Fitness is an excellent choice for beginners, mainly because it’s always open. You can work out whenever you want and create a training schedule that perfectly fits with your other responsibilities. The facilities also manage to stay clean and organized despite being open 24/7, which demonstrates the staff’s commitment to providing a safe workout environment.

The standard membership cost is $29.99 per month with a $1 down payment. You could also go for a $39.99 All-Club membership, which gives you access to all locations nationwide. 24 Hour Fitness offers a free three-day pass for potential members, so you’ll have plenty of time to determine whether the gym is right for you.

5. Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym is arguably the most popular gym chain in the U.S. and Canada. It received international attention after the Gold’s Gym Venice Beach location appeared on the hit bodybuilding documentary “Pumping Iron” and became the top choice for serious lifters from that point forward.

Membership prices vary by location, but Gold’s Gym claims that the average membership only costs $2 per day or $39.99 per month. It’s a little on the expensive side, but the equipment at Gold’s is far better than other commercial gyms. We highly recommend getting a free trial and experiencing the equipment quality for yourself.

6. Crunch Fitness

Crunch is another popular chain that’s known for its wide range of equipment and amenities. This franchise is relatively new compared to Gold’s Gym, Anytime Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness, which means all of the equipment is in great condition and most of the patrons are novices or beginners. Memberships start at $9.99 per month, which is extremely cheap.

The Crunch franchise is split into two parts — the standard Crunch Fitness locations and premium Crunch Signature locations. Crunch Signature offers upgraded facilities and equipment such as saunas, steam rooms, private studios, gift shops and full-service locker rooms. If you want a luxurious gym experience, then Crunch is a great choice.

7. LA Fitness

Gym with turf field

LA Fitness isn’t your typical commercial gym. It has plenty of equipment and personal trainers, but it also has basketball courts, racquetball courts, swimming pools and specific spaces devoted to powerlifting and other exercise niches. If you’re not sure about your fitness goals and want to explore different interests, LA Fitness is the place for you.

The standard LA Fitness membership is $39.99 per month, which includes a free fitness assessment and access to unlimited group classes.  The atmosphere here is quite different from other gyms, but beginners will enjoy the range of possibilities and might discover a new passion they hadn’t considered before.

Find the Right Gym for You

The best gym for beginners is ultimately the place where you feel the most empowered to pursue your fitness goals. Look around your community for local chains and these six national chains. Ask friends, read online reviews and check out the membership fees. Don’t wait another day! Take action now and get started on your fitness journey!

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