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Old Aug 2, 10, 1:59 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Charleston, SC
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Nationwide Gyms, any recomendations?

I travel every week, mostly domestic and wanted to see if anyone else had any good experience with national gym memberships. I don't want to pay a fortune, and a national gym with branches in most major cities would be great. Any recommendations? Thanks.
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Old Aug 2, 10, 2:04 pm   #2
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I use 24 hour fitness. Their gyms are good and you can get an all club membership so you can use pretty much any gym. Nothing like some deadlifts after a long travel day.

The only drawback is their all clubs don't work for some of their top tier clubs. For instance, the 24 hour fitness on Waikiki doesn't work for someone with a regular membership and they don't give you any discount on a day pass.

Their sales people, like those at any gym, are generally douches and are encourage to be so by their management. You can buy a membership at costco for pretty cheap. Otherwise, just look at their rates online. Going into the club won't get you any discount. You'll just have a 30 minute tour while the 'consultant' tries to pry for information to plug into their pitch. That's not a drawback for the gym given that basically ever gym works that way.
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Old Aug 2, 10, 2:06 pm   #3
 
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I have a membership at LA Fitness, though I only use my “home” location. They do have an iPhone app which could be useful in your situation, and their prices are reasonable.

That said, they may be “nationwide” but they aren’t in nearly every city. There’s a map here:

https://www.lafitness.com/Pages/findclub.aspx

So, depending on where you travel, it could work. They aren’t fancy, but if you’re just looking for a place to work out, maybe swim a bit, it works.
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Old Aug 2, 10, 2:41 pm   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrbenko View Post
I travel every week, mostly domestic and wanted to see if anyone else had any good experience with national gym memberships. I don't want to pay a fortune, and a national gym with branches in most major cities would be great. Any recommendations? Thanks.
Most chain gyms (24 hour, Ballys, Golds) have locations in major cities. However, one thing to consider is amentities offered as many chain gyms are lacking in this area. Be sure to check on things like towel service and tioletries offered. Do you really want to schlep even more stuff when you travel.

Also, do you travel to certain cities, just major cities (New York, LA, Chicago) or a multitude of places. I will say that if you are serious about your fitness level, particularly with traveling, a membership to a higher level gym such as an Equinox is worth it (assuming that you are traveling to mostly major cities). Working out in a run down, dirty facility with poor and/or old equipment takes away the motivation factor.
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Old Aug 2, 10, 3:51 pm   #5
 
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Most YMCAs have reciprocal agreements if you're a member of your local Y.
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Old Aug 2, 10, 4:06 pm   #6
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I've never had any problems using 24hr Fitness anywhere in the US. There seems to be plenty of them around, so I'm happy to stick with them - although you do have to pay a slightly higher fee (I think) to be able to use any gym in their network.
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Old Aug 2, 10, 4:27 pm   #7
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I belong to Golds and Ballys

My ballys goes back to the 80's so I have a lifetime membership where my renewal is $60 annually so I keep it and if I use it a half dozen times it pays for itself; there are not any near my house but I use them often in Southern California, NJ, Arizona and Fla.. the one caveat is that while its a high level membership, there are some exclusions but not enough to really bother me.

Golds is my preferred chain and what I use daily at home. GG is great for travel including Hawaii however the one drawback is the 14 day pass where you are "technically" allowed only 14 visits to a particular club per year. Some take that as calendar and others take it as a rolling 12 month window. However there are ways around it if you really hit a city over and over like I do in certain locations. I've never been denied access to a GG domestically or overseas. Its the best chain in my opinion.

Other deals are some extended stay properties and low end chains (FI, Hampton) will have deals with local health clubs in lieu of their own and I tend to know many of those as well to the locations I travel often. I pay attention to the master threads in the hotel forums for these too and often take note for future reference.

24 hour fitness turned me off with having too many levels of membership. LA Fitness to me is more of a social club so its ok, just not my style, and of course whatever poster above me stated that they are all d-bags as far as the high pressure sales couldn't be more accurate. It may be the cheesiest of all sales jobs that have ever existed. You just have to be a natural scumbag to do health club sales.
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Old Aug 3, 10, 12:31 am   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
24 hour fitness turned me off with having too many levels of membership.
The different levels of membership does add a moderate amount of complexity, but hey, this is FT, we like complexity, right?

Seriously, for the OP, I don't think the complexity is too awful. You can get a one-club membership (only that one location) or an all-clubs membership (all clubs at the specified level or below). Probably the levels you would want to consider are Sport (probably covers 80% of all locations?), Super Sport (97%?), and Ultra Sport (100%). Certainly check your home area and frequent destinations specifically to see what clubs are available and convenient enough location-wise that you'll actually make the effort to leave the hotel during a business trip to go work out. Only a few areas of the country even have any Ultra Sport locations. Personally, I have a Super Sport all-clubs membership (my "home" club is a Super Sport) and the few times I've been in an area with an Ultra Sport, I ask nicely at the desk and they gladly comp me in for the day. I find that when traveling, I'll search for Super Sport locations, because I feel the towel service and usually better privacy showers and nicer locker rooms are worth a modestly longer drive. But I don't turn my nose up at Sport locations if that's all that is available reasonably close by, they're good enough to not discourage me from working out.

I signed up right off the bat for a 3-year prepaid membership -- knowing when I walked into the club that's the kind of membership deal I wanted really knocked the health club membership counselor out of his sales routine. (On the other hand, maybe that was the best commission for him anyway.) If you have cash on hand, and have confidence that you won't be one of the members that the health clubs make their money on (in that you pay their initiation fee and monthly fees but never actually use their facilities), going with a prepaid plan can be a great deal.

What did my 3-year prepaid Super Sport all-club membership in the Bay Area cost me? $1,000. Not cheap, but I felt it was good value. That included 10 50-minute training sessions and special guest privileges (I can bring in a guest and they don't have to deal with a sales session in order to get a "free" day pass, they just have to sign a liability waiver form and good to go in 30 seconds). No silly initiation fee. Annual membership renewals after the first 3 years of $39 per year, I think... I'd have to double check my paperwork, as I'm just coming to the end of the 3 years now. Obviously they're banking on many members failing to renew their annual membership like clockwork; or for some members to renew every year but never come in, which means a pure albeit small profit every year.

Costco is offering a 3-year prepaid Sport all-clubs membership for $449. If I weren't on my current membership, that would look mighty tempting.
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