Pros: Lots of locations; wide selection of equipment; reasonable prices
Cons: Stingy guest policy
I joined Gold?s Gym fairly recently, after I moved to Texas and accepted a position with a company that offered corporate gym memberships. My fiance and I were both growing a little soft in the middle, so I figured it couldn?t hurt us to move our rear ends a few nights a week. After working out regularly for about seven weeks at several Gold?s Gym locations around the Austin area, I have to say that this health club franchise is great for anyone who wants an effective, no-nonsense workout at a reasonable price.
First things first: Gold?s is not a plush, glamorous gym by any means. The fruit-smoothie bars and massage services available at expensive gyms like Equinox Fitness cannot be found here. But since I go to the gym for one purpose ? to work out ? I have been quite pleased with what IS available at Gold?s. The location I patronize the most, on William Cannon Drive at Mopac, has a great selection of machines to choose from. There are approximately 20 Precor treadmills and about 25 Precor stairsteppers on the upper level, and about 20 bikes, recumbent and traditional. There are also a few of the older-type cardio machines, such as a Nordic Track and a rowing machine. However, it?s rare to see anyone using them.
The lower level is mainly for strength training, and has a variety of machines to work every muscle in your body. I mainly use the machines that work my inner thighs, outer thighs, quadriceps, hamstrings, triceps, shoulders and back. However, there are also a couple of ?Butt Blasters? for your gluteus maximus and some machines to work the chest muscles. Mats for sit-ups and those big plastic balls for challenging crunches are there as well. In addition, Gold?s offers a wide selection of free weights and a mirror-lined wall so you can watch your form closely.
The women?s locker room is always clean and includes lockers (you bring your own lock), private changing rooms and a scale. Private shower stalls are also available, but I wouldn?t recommend shy people use them, because the curtains aren?t wide enough to give you any privacy.
That about does it for my preferred gym location, but I?ve noticed other amenities in other locations around Austin. For example, the location on Bee Caves Road offers a small ?women preferred? cardio area, as well as a ?gift shop? where you can buy exercise apparel and accessories.
As I said before, Gold?s doesn?t offer much that isn?t directly related to working out. But most locations do have a regular schedule of exercise classes, for those who enjoy working out with groups. The classes I?ve seen and attended include:
Body Rock - An hour-long strength training class
Yoga - From beginner to advanced level classes, a certified yoga instructor will lead you through a series of relaxing stretches
Abs - 15 minutes of gut busting exercises
Step - Hour long classes, from novice to expert levels, that include the use of a plastic step to increase intensity
Flexibility - 30 minutes of stretching exercises
Pilates Mat - Incorporates techniques used by the famed Joseph Pilates.
Hi-Lo - High- and low-impact aerobics
And there are so many more. Each location has its own schedule, so check with each facility for the specifics. I?ve found the instructors to be pleasant yet tough, and they really care if you get a good workout ? most will tell you if you?re not doing the exercises properly.
Gold?s Gym also offers personal training sessions with its staff for a fee (I think it?s something like $20-$30 a session). Before you work out under the supervision of a trainer, you will take a comprehensive fitness test and a body fat test to let the instructor know where you are, fitness-wise, and where you need to be. Each workout is designed specifically for you. I have never had a personal training session, but whenever I see them in the gym with a client, they always seemed pretty nice. But let me tell you, the client always seemed pretty pooped ? so be prepared to work!
Otherwise, the staff members pretty much stay out of your way. I was scared to death at first that they were going to embarrass me by offering to show me ?better techniques? and whatnot, but they are very hands-off, which I like.
Gold?s has traditionally been a place for bodybuilders and fitness experts, but I have not found this to be the case at all. Most people who work out there are quite normal ? not fitness experts but not really overweight either. Of course, there are exceptions (those toothpick girls on those stairsteppers!), but I think almost anyone would feel comfortable working out there.
Price and Membership
I am luckier than most Gold?s Gym members, as my fiance and I have corporate memberships, which are cheaper than most ($17 each/month). Also, we are not bound by a contract, which is especially nice. The Gold?s Gym web site includes no information about regular memberships ? however, you can e-mail them for a price quote in your area. I have heard that the memberships are pretty reasonable ? anywhere from $28 to $45 ? but this may be higher in larger cities like New York. You will likely have to sign a yearlong contract to join under normal circumstances, so make sure this is the place you want to work out. Most locations will give you a one-day guest pass to ?try before you buy.?
As a member, you can get guest passes for your friends. However (in Austin, at least), they can only be friends with local addresses. Seems Gold?s doesn?t want to let guests in unless they have a chance of hooking them into a membership. Guest passes for out-of-town friends are $10 per day, which is a little steep. That is the only thing that I really don?t like about Gold?s.
Guests aside, Gold?s is good for those who travel a lot. With over 600 locations in most mid-sized and larger cities, there?s bound to be a gym for you to work out at, no matter where you are. I plan on using the location in Mobile, Alabama when I?m down visiting my parents this Christmas. With such wide availability - and the fact that many locations are open 24 hours - there?s really no excuse NOT to work out!
So go and give Gold?s a try. I?m betting you won?t regret it.
For more information and locations, visit http://www.goldsgym.com.