The 7 Best Gym Memberships of 2022: Find the Right Gym for Your Goals

Man using barbell


Training at home can be a viable option for many recreational and competitive athletes, but others may feel that a gym membership would be more beneficial. Choosing the right gym to train it can be a difficult decision. Fitness enthusiasts should consider the location, their budget, the level of training they are at, and what their goals are when choosing a gym membership. The health club or fitness center that you're going to commit your time and finances to needs to offer the best of what you need.

In this guide, we'll share our choices for the best overall gym as well as the optimal options based on factors such as budget, the type of training you follow, and if you're a frequent traveler. These results are based on the best major gym chains that have numerous locations. You should consider local options in your specific area as well before making a final decision.

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The Best Gym Memberships - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall - 24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness

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We believe that 24 Hour Fitness is the choice that will help the majority of fitness enthusiasts reach their goals. They have 24-hour access, which can benefit those who have nontraditional schedules. They offer a wide variety of equipment such as free weights and machines, which can help many people reach their individual goals. Their various promotions and terms of membership can benefit people who need to focus on a budget, and they have trainers as well as classes that promote group fitness.

Beginners and advanced trainees can all work out at 24 Hour Fitness and achieve personal fitness success. Their other amenities such as basketball courts, pools, and spas allow even more benefits for their members. While some gym chains may specialize in specific services and markets, 24 Hour Fitness can be the best choice for a wide range of fitness-minded people.

What We Like

  • Their facilities are always open for members
  • They provide numerous workout choices and a lot of space
  • Their membership prices are affordable for many fitness enthusiasts
  • Their app can help new members

What We Don't Like

  • The facilities may be too much for some beginners
  • There are limited locations

BUY: 24 Hour Fitness Membership

Best Budget Membership - Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness

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Beginners and people who are looking for a friendly atmosphere will find it at Planet Fitness. They have numerous treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes for all your cardio needs, and they have unique rooms for different training experiences.

They have two tiers of membership—classic or prepaid and the Black Card Membership. Both of these memberships are very affordable, with the Black Card Membership costing less than $30 per month. You can choose your membership of choice based on your individual needs, and they have trainers that can help you far beyond your starting date.

If a standard gym setting may be overwhelming, then Planet Fitness can help you get acquainted with working out in a public setting.

What We Like

  • They have several cardio machines, so you are less likely to wait for one
  • The Black Card membership comes with access to tanning beds, massage chairs, and you can bring a guest
  • Their trainers will continue helping you after your first few sessions if needed

What We Don't Like

  • It is a basic facility with no squat racks, standard bench press stations, or empty barbells
  • They have annual fees that are charged on top of your standard monthly payments

BUY: Planet Fitness Membership

Best Gym Membership for Travelers - Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness

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If you work different hours, or if you're a frequent traveler, then Anytime Fitness may be the best choice for you and your fitness needs. Like 24 Hour Fitness, you can train any time of day or night. If you're on the road and need to get a workout in, you can use any of their 4,700 locations to focus on exercise.

Each location is different, but you can expect to have access to free weights, machines, and other equipment to train effectively, regardless of what your focus is. Rates for each location can be different, but you can expect to pay in a range of $20 to $60 a month, depending on what membership and services you need.

If you do travel often, keep in mind that no two locations are the same. So, what you have in your Anytime Fitness may not be available in the location you're visiting.

What We Like

  • You can train at any location if you are away from home
  • People can work out effectively regardless of their individual goals
  • You can save extra money if you sign longer contracts

What We Don't Like

  • They don't have staff working all hours
  • There are no extra amenities such as childcare or saunas at most locations

BUY: Anytime Fitness Membership

Best Luxury Gym Membership - Equinox

Equinox

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Equinox gyms have plenty of amenities as well as quality equipment to work out with. People who want to work out with high-standard machines in a high-standard environment will feel at home in one of their facilities. Saunas, cold tubs, steam rooms, full-service spas, and even rooftop fitness classes are all at your fingertips. Some locations even have chefs to prepare meals.

All of that comes with an eye-opening price tag as well, as memberships can cost up to $200 a month. If that is within your budget limits, and you want to focus on lifestyle as well as fitness, then Equinox is worth consideration.

What We Like

  • These gyms have high-quality equipment and plenty of space
  • There are experts and trainers ready to work with you individually or in classes
  • The branding and atmosphere promotes a luxury lifestyle

What We Don't Like

  • Beginners may feel intimidated by the setup and environment
  • Very high fees

BUY: Equinox Membership

Best Gym Membership for Cross Training - Orangetheory Fitness

Orange Theory

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Athletes who are into cross-training can count on intense workouts that are sure to get their heart rate up. As a matter of fact, that is how they gauge your effort and results. The workouts at Orangetheory Fitness include treadmills, rowers, and free-weight training that are performed in a circuit fashion. The hour sessions will help you burn calories, and the atmosphere can be positive with like-minded people encouraging you.

You are restricted to following their program and workouts, but people who want to see themselves progress at a pace they can control should consider trying a free workout before making a final decision.

What We Like

  • Even though you're in a group setting, you can control your effort and pace during the workout
  • They promote a fun environment and are encouraging to all members
  • Classes and workouts change often. You're not likely to do the same workout twice

What We Don't Like

  • Some membership packages restrict access to work out, and they can be costly
  • Classes can fill fast, which means you may have to wait up to an hour for an available spot in the next scheduled class

BUY: Orangetheory Fitness Membership

Best Gym Membership for Variety - LA Fitness

LA fitness

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Athletes who like to focus on more than one fitness discipline would likely enjoy the LA Fitness experience. They have free weights and machines for people looking to build muscle as well as platforms for powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters. People who focus on cardio and endurance can also use their variety of machines and the numerous classes they offer.

They have various levels of membership that can meet your budget needs as well as over 600 locations across North America. They don't have a uniform list of services at all locations, so you should find out what the gym near you has before making a firm commitment.

What We Like

  • The workout spaces have plenty of room so you can train without interfering with others
  • They have a wide variety of training equipment that helps you make workouts more interesting
  • Personal trainers are available to help beginners start their fitness journeys

What We Don't Like

  • Access to multiple locations isn't available with all membership options
  • Some membership options can be costly compared to other choices
  • Not all states have LA Fitness locations

BUY: LA Fitness Membership

Best Gym Membership for Lifting - Gold's Gym

golds

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Gold's Gym has been associated with bodybuilding since "Pumping Iron" was released in 1977. They do still have the old-school atmosphere that will appeal to some older adults as well as people who are passionate about strength training. However, they have evolved and are now a gym chain that supports all fitness disciplines.

Aside from the squat racks, free weights, and heavy dumbbells, which can go up to 200 pounds at some locations, they offer spacious locker rooms, saunas, and group fitness classes that can serve beginners or advanced trainees. One downside is that the majority of their locations are on the west coast of the United States.

What We Like

  • They are a great option for bodybuilders, powerlifters, and people who want to build muscle
  • Many locations offer high-end amenities without a hefty membership cost
  • Their personal trainers are vetted and are experienced helping clients reach their individual goals

What We Don't Like

  • Not all locations are the same, and many of them are based in California
  • Most membership packages are more expensive than other gym chains

BUY: Gold's Gym Membership

What Should I Look for in a Gym

You should look for a gym that is clean and organized. It should be easy to find the cardio section, weight room, and locker rooms. Cleaning stations that are easy to locate would also be beneficial.

The gym you choose should be open for hours that allow you to work out based on your schedule. The staff should be friendly and helpful, and having trainers who can show you how equipment works would also be a factor to consider.

Last but not least, the gym you sign up for should have an atmosphere that makes you feel comfortable. If you're a beginner who wants to be a part of a community, then a hardcore gym setting may not be best for you. Conversely, if you're training with heavy weights and focused on a strength sport, then you may not want to join a gym that heavily promotes weight loss.

FAQs About Gym Memberships


What is the cheapest gym to join?

Most gyms have multiple membership packages that can potentially fit within your budget. Out of all the choices we evaluated, Planet Fitness would be the most budget-friendly option if that is your top priority.

Should I go to the gym every day?

No, you should not go to the gym every day. Your body eventually needs to rest so it can recover from the rigors that come with working out. This is actually when the improvement takes place. At a minimum, you should take one complete day off per week. Beginners can benefit from two or even three days off as they start committing to fitness.

Are gym memberships worth it?

That depends on the membership you buy, what your goals are, and if you feel that training in a gym would help you reach your goals more than training at home. Even though you're paying for the membership, you're not responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the equipment in the gym like you would be if you created your own workout space.

How long should I spend at the gym?

Most fitness enthusiasts can benefit from workouts that last 45-60 minutes. People who focus on strength or trainees who want to lift weights and do cardio in one session may want to schedule 90 minutes for the gym. Most people don't need more than that to effectively train and get in great shape.

About the Author

Roger "Rock" Lockridge

Roger has worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years in a variety of roles, including as a personal trainer, fitness class instructor, supplement advisor, nutritionist, and as a writer. He has contributed to Men's Health, Muscle & Fitness, BarBend, Iron Man Magazine, and Bodybuilding.com.

See More from Roger

Roger has worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years in a variety of roles, including as a personal trainer, fitness class instructor, supplement advisor, nutritionist, and as a writer. He has contributed to Men's Health, Muscle & Fitness, BarBend, Iron Man Magazine, and Bodybuilding.com.

See More from Roger

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