Gym check in the US. American gyms in New York City & New Jersey
When I visited the US again in 2019, one of the elements of my local culture research in New York City and New Jersey was to visit some of the most interesting gym facilities there, so basically do the gym check in the US. The American market and fitness culture in the United States are particularly very close fields to my interests because I have defended my thesis at the University of Warsaw about it. Fitness in the United States is a very interesting phenomenon that has been developing for several decades. It is also the most growing and most influential market in the world. Every now and then, new facilities are opened that are designed to attract more and more customers. What makes these in New York and New Jersey different? Say it clear but New Yorkers and people of New Jersey are not easy to satisfy.
Anytime Fitness. Cliffside Park, NJ
Anytime Fitness is a gym that is opened 24 hours a day. During the day guests have access to the normal reception and after hours they enter through a special card. It is located in a luxury apartment complex. It is a chain class fitness facility but midrange. A monthly pass costs around $70. Group classes are also included in the price. It is very clean inside and the equipment is in a very good condition. There is a lot of smaller equipment for all types of exercises with weights. There is no cloakroom at Anytime Fitness. There are small lockers in the hallway where personal belongings can be left instead. In American culture, as a rule, people come to workout already in gym wear (photographies of celebrities wearing top and leggings already ready to workout with a yoga mat it is just a normal cultural behavior). People change and take a shower at home.
There is a slightly different trend in Poland because people often go to the gym during the week, usually straight after work. Gyms on the weekends are also not so crowded because most people are out of town. At least in Warsaw. Americans rather workout very early before work (a crowded gym at 5 am is not an unusual image) or on weekends.
At Anytime Fitness you feel like at home. Nobody judges anyone and nobody looks around at people who workout. They simply mind their business. You can feel good energy here. Personal trainers are very helpful and approach each person as a best friend. Everyone can feel special there. There are also motivational boards on the wall where not only weekly fit challenges are written but also everyone has an opportunity to write a few words to other members. Every month, people who have completed the largest number of workouts are also listed on it. It is a nice distinction and additional motivation for further work.
At this gym you can also connect to any cardio machine through the application on your smartphone and save your workout.
Body Culture. Cliffside Park, NJ
Body Culture is not a typical gym. You will not find many cardio machines there, except for AirBikes and one treadmill. There is a lot of equipment for training with free weights, and also a schedule of classes in which you will find CrossFit and HIIT group workouts. Groups of a dozen or so ensure comfort during classes, and personal trainers present a different set of exercises each time. It is very hard to get bored there. Personal training sessions are also very popular.
The atmosphere at Body Culture is great and I really recommend daily workouts there! This New Jersey gym check in the US attempt was also very interesting.
24 Hour Fitness, New York City, NY
24 Hour Fitness is a popular, New York chain gym. I chose the Midtown Ultra-Sport Gym location. It also has a swimming pool. I went there for a week, using a free 7 days guest pass. Unfortunately, despite the recommendations of my friends, this gym disappointed me very much because of the cleanliness, or rather the lack of it. Old and broken equipment, ubiquitous dirt and mold in the shower. Falling off and dirty tiles on the walls, looking like those from a subway station.
The only positive thing of this place were definitely personal trainers who approached each guest very professionally. I also got a free personal training, thanks to which I improved the technique of HIIT exercises. My personal trainer showed me some very useful workout tricks.
After I used my free subscription, the marketers from this gym were very pushy. They sent a lot of emails and kept calling, urging me to buy a regular membership, which is not the cheapest for this quality and costs over $ 100. Their actions discouraged me even more from this place. Despite my declaration that I did not want to buy a full membership, they still tried to convince me. Additionally, photos on their website do not even half resemble this space in real life.
Blink Fitness, New York City, NY
Blink Fitness is also a chain gym but it does not differ from European gym standards. It reminds me of Calypso gym chain in Poland. I visited several Blink Fitness locations, including Bryant Park, E 54th St, and W 30th St. There is clean and well-kept equipment everywhere and also nice and modern interiors. There is a nice and friendly atmosphere in every location. The spacious cardio zone is a big plus at the gym in New York City, because there are always queues.
An additional plus is the low cost of the monthly membership – $28. Despite the lack of sauna, it is a definitely my favorite gym in New York City.
Planet Fitness, New York City, NY
Planet Fitness is a very strange place. It is a gym chain and belongs to the cheapest ones. The monthly membership costs only $15 so anyone can afford it. Of course, this also affects the attendance and the gym is visited by crowds at any time of the day. I visited the one in Manhattan at W 35th St. The hallmark of this chain is an intense purple equipment color.
For the very first time in my life I had seen in the gym that women take their handbags to the cardio or free weights room. They practice with them as if nothing has happened. There are lockers available that are locked with your own padlocks and also special deposit lockers at the reception.
At Planet Fitness you can rent the mat at the main reception and in addition after 5pm they give away a free pizza. People pack it into take-out bags. Apparently this happens every Friday.
Equinox, New York City, NY
It’s Not Fitness. It’s Life – as the Equinox motto says.
Fot. Equinox Hudson Yards, Equinox Press Kit
Equinox is a style and a class itself. It is also the most expensive chain in New York, where monthly membership costs up to $600. In addition to the common exercise area, there are training rooms with dedicated group activities, so-called powered by Equinox. They are often additionally payable and are not included in the price of the membership. Registration applies and often has a long waiting list. You can sign up for some classes, even if you are only a gym visitor, not a member.
The latest location of this chain is Hudson Yards in West Manhattan. It overlooks the modern Hudson Yards business center, now one of the richest and most growing parts of New York City. The place looks more like an exclusive SPA than a gym. Equinox Hudson Yards even has its own terrace with an outdoor swimming pool and a place to relax and sunbathe. In addition to exercise rooms, there is also a special Pilates studio, an indoor salt pool, or eucalyptus steam studio. Here, going to the gym definitely takes on a new meaning.
Fot. Equinox Hudson Yards, Equinox Press Kit
Fot. Equinox Hudson Yards, Equinox Press Kit
SoulCycle, New York City, NY
It’s more than a workout— it’s an experience.
SoulCycle is a place with spinning classes only. Indoor cycling workouts in all possible forms. There are classes devoted to the music of Beyonce or Shakira. Each class last 45 minutes. Smoky light, effective additional colorful lighting, intense music and energy prevailing in the room allow you to forget about the surrounding world for a moment.
For SoulCycle classes a simple seat reservation system applies. First you buy the number of rides – the more, the cheaper the classes are – and you book single entries later.
Gym check in the US was a fun way to search both, similarities and differences at New York City gyms. It shows that this industry can give you really different experiences.
Fot. SoulCycle, www.soul-cycle.com
Written by Monika Mozgala
I’m Monika Mozgala, the founder, and editor of The Blonde Taste. My main purpose is to write practical articles that will be useful for people interested in fitness, lifestyle and beauty. I’ve spent couple years in the US where I also finished high school. The last 6 years I’ve spent working as an editor for many editorial offices in Poland, including SHAPE Poland Deputy-in-Chief position and head of it’s digital version. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up here or on my Instagram.