Pros: Equipment, Clientelle, Hours
Cons: Expensive, 3rd Party Billing, Lack of Classes/Membership Options, 12 Month Contract, HUGE Processing Fee
I worked in the fitness industry for some 6 years while in school, even took a year to manage after finishing. I recently moved and was looking for a gym to work out at.
There were 3 gyms nearby: Anytime Fitness, Bally's, and Brick Bodies. These are in order of closer to further from me. I know all about Ballys as I used to work at 24 Hour Fitness (why couldn't there be more 24s on the East Coast?). The gist of it is Bally has long term contracts, out sources their billing (I'll get to that), and Ballys recently filed for bankruptcy. The location close to me is incredibly packed during business hours and I didn't want to deal with any of those problems. I don't know too much about Brick Bodies but they also do the contract thing and were the furthest from me. So Anytime Fitness it is.
First thing. I HATE it when gyms don't give out their prices. If you knew their pricing, you could shop around and you wouldn't have to waste your time. Clubs want you to walk into their home turf where they feel they have dominance over the situation.
I didn't like how AF didn't list any prices online. However, the staff/owner was up front about the monthly cost. Cool. It's different for all clubs but rather similar across the board; was 39$ per person, per month. 30$ per person if you do a couple membership. I don't know about student/etc discounts. They will try and sell you on the fact that there are a thousand locations, but don't let that sway you. Many of them are small and there are better alternatives out there.
Tanning costs extra. Classes cost extra. Your monthly fee *only* pays for access to the equipment.
They do annual (1 Year) memberships. When your year is up, you don't go month to month but back to another year membership. You can pay for the year up front, if you do, they give you 3 or so extra months (again, up to the discretion of the club you go to).
Now, when you sign up, they require you to pay for the first month. They ALSO require you to pay the processing fee (which they say goes to the parent company). I know, their website lists a coupon that says pay no enrollment. That's correct... but you pay a processing fee. That was 100$. That's shady. I was in the business long enough to know that it's just a money grab, it doesn't cost 100$ to "process" a membership.
While the club I signed up at was small, they do have a nice selection of equipment and it was all fairly new. The selection of free weights and cardio equipment were decent. They have disinfectant wipes to wipe down your equipment. Overall: there were 2 benches - 1 with an assisted bar and the other in a squat cage but the only place to do bench. ~5 Ellipticals, ~5 bycicles, ~5 treadmills. ~12 Plated weight machines. 2 Workout centers (1 in the corner and 1 very nice one in the center). 5 extra benches near the free weights. For the foot traffic at that club, it was plenty of room.
There isn't a locker room. It's more like a larger ish bathroom for Men and Women with a shower and door that locks. Which is totally appropriate for the size of this club. They have lockers where you can use your own locks and cubbys.
They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are staffed for about half of the time. There are cameras everywhere.
To get in, you scan a key ring over a sensor.
It never was crowded, even during a typical after work rush. I really liked that. The people seemed to keep to themselves and were generally pretty nice.
[Billing / Financial]
This is a HUGE red flag. They don't bill themselves. The outsource their billing. Why is this bad? Do you know how Bally's had a really bad reputation with their contracts? It's because they outsource (maybe they changed?) their billing and contract agreements. If you want to cancel, you have to cancel through the 3rd party and believe me, this WILL lead to problems. ABC Financial Services has an A on the BBB but have over 500 complaints. We'll see how they are when I deal with them.
The actual club was good. The equipment was nice, people weren't a problem. Prices were very expensive compared to everyone else, especially considering that you can only have a 12 month contract. Their isn't a membership option to work out at only one club. Their 3rd party billing system is VERY worrisome. I used my AMEX to pay for this as I know they'll protect me if they try to screw me. However, I'll continue to update this review for the next year and let you all know how it goes.
Update (09.21.2009): Everything has been going good with the club. They are moving the location I work out at to a bigger location (nearly next door) and will be offering classes. However, classes are an additional cost per month. So it's still kinda of expensive (not as much) and now offer classes. For that, I'll bump them up to 3 stars (2.5-3.0). However, in the time I originally did this review - their competitors have upped their value. Ie. Ballys (as much as I dislike them) is cheaper with $0 processing fee/enrollment and cheaper per month with more amenities...