Ask The Fit RV: Best Gym Chains for Travelers


Dear Stef,

My family and I are gearing up for our first RV. We’re currently stationed in Germany, so I have been spoiled rotten with the Army Post’s (free) gym, and will miss it when we move back to the states. While I have no qualms with home workouts, I’m a “Lift Heavy Stuff” kinda gal at heart. Since squat racks and heavy weights just might put us over our RV weight limit, a gym that allows for weight lifting needs to be in the picture.

What are your top recommendations for gym brands that are:
1) Across the US in as many states as possible that has access to all.
2) Affordable (I’m talking $30-45ish/month max).
3) Allows for “real” weight lifters (not just dumbbell kinda stuff)- aka dead lifts, Olympic lifts etc.

Also, I’m curious about Crossfit. Do you know of any (I’ve never used any, as they exploded in popularity after we had moved to Europe) that allow country-wide admittance? Thanks so much for your input!!

Signed,
FitChick

 

Dear FitChick,

I’m happy to see you’re keeping your priorities aligned as you make this transition and already thinking through how you’ll keep fit on the road, that’s great! So, of course, you’ll bring some travel-friendly exercise tools with you in the rig, that’s a no-brainer. But, sometimes, a good old-fashioned gym is just the ticket on the road…particularly for self-proclaimed gym rats! I totally get it.

I’ve got 3 recommendations for you…all open 24 hours per day and 7 days a week and work great for people who travel:

 

1. Anytime Fitness:

anytime-fitness

This is my top pick for gym chains for travelers. You’ll have access to more than 3,000 locations worldwide, more than any other chain. Anytime does have free weights that gym junkies like you expect, so you’ll be pleased with that. Plus, I love that you’ll find functional training stuff like the TRX, BOSU, battle ropes, kettlebells, sandbags, etc. at each location. As for rates, they do vary slightly by locations, but expect to pay a $50 initiation fee, and then 35$ for a key fob up front, and then a monthly fee of $35-55 per month. There’s an annual “club enhancement fee” as well. You can save a little more off those membership fees if you pay annually.

 

2. Planet Fitness:

planet-fitness

They have 1,000 locations in 48 states and are by far the cheapest gym chain. You’ll pay a $40 annual fee and then $20 per month. The other big plus is that you can bring a guest each time you workout! I recommend this chain all the time to fellow RVers. But now here’s why I don’t think this particular chain is a good fit for you, FitChick. They pride themselves in NOT being a bodybuilder’s gym. In fact, their commercials make fun of bodybuilders. You’ll hear a lot about their “Judgement Free” zone, which is funny because it’s just the opposite. For example, they have a “lunk” alarm and the staff will sound it if someone grunts or drops a weight or drinks from a plastic gallon jug. There’s a dress code of no strappy tank tops and no midriffs showing. They don’t even have scales in their gyms. Honestly, I’d be nervous to workout in one. I’m far from a “grunter” when lifting but what if I strained and shook too much trying to get my 10th rep completed and they sounded the lunk alarm! Oh and just try to wrap your brain around this: they have a monthly pizza night for members. I don’t even know what to say about that. While PF does have dumbbells, you won’t find any squat racks or Olympic benches on site. So, while PF is great for 85% of the population, you, FitChick, might want to look elsewhere.

 

3. 24 Hour Fitness:

24-hour

While they don’t have as many locations as the others (400 clubs), most do have daycares, and since you have a family, it’s worth considering. They are fully stocked large gyms with all the bells and whistles, great for bodybuilders AND for the general population. But it’s a little tricky. 24 Hour Fitness has four club levels: Active, Sport, Super-Sport, and Ultra-Sport. Membership fees go up depending on which level your home club has (they’re ranked based on amenities). If you get a membership at a lowly “Active” facility, you can only visit other Actives. If your membership was from a Sport facility, you can visit both Sport AND Active locations around the nation. So, if you’re getting a membership because you want access to ALL 24 Hour locations, find one with the “Ultra-Sport” ranking and get your initial membership through them. Depending on where you travel, here are the states where you’ll find 24 Hour Fitness: California, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, New York, Florida, Oregon, Hawaii, Texas, Maryland, Utah, Nevada, Washington. They have a $50 annual fee on top of the $35-55 monthly fee, plus there’s another 50$ initiation fee, but they run loads of specials so you might get lucky and get a sweet deal if the timing’s right.

 

Here’s some more food for thought:

Since you’re already into fitness, and know your way around RV-friendly exercises, how often do you really foresee yourself hitting an actual gym on the road? So, let’s say once a week? It might be most economical for you to consider just buying day passes, which is what James and I do. The nice thing about that is if you see a super cool gym in a town you’re rolling through, you can hit that and you aren’t limited with one gym chain. There will be towns that don’t have your gym chain anywhere near, so you’d end up paying a day pass at another facility anyways.

 

As for CrossFit:

cross-fit-1

Since CrossFit gyms are privately owned, there isn’t an umbrella membership that gets you into any and all CF gyms across the nation. Day rates are around $20, but you’d want to call ahead and let them know you’re coming so they can help you find a class that fits your current level. CrossFit is much different than a traditional gym and they mostly revolve around classes, so dropping in whenever you feel at a CrossFit location where you’re not a member doesn’t work. And CrossFit gym hours are limited…with some studios closing as early as 7pm. Memberships are spendy and vary by location. A CrossFit in Salt Lake City costs $200 the first month, then $150 thereafter. Couples are $240 per month, and they do offer a 20% military discount. So, while a monthly membership doesn’t make sense for you, it might be fun to do every now and then taking advantage of day passes!

Now that James and I are traveling so frequently, we’ve been trying to decide if committing to a gym chain would make more sense for us, too.  Since I own a lot of strappy tank tops (and have Lunk Alarm Phobia), if we do commit to a chain we’d go with Anytime Fitness.

Hope this helps!
Warmly,
Stef
The Fit RV



Stefany Adinaro is an RVing fitness pro and is the self-proclaimed “better half” of the Fit RV website. While she loves her RV adventures, her favorite adventure is being “Mugga” to grandbabies Amelia and Eli. When she's not on the road, you can find her training clients in Salt Lake City, Utah.


    4 thoughts on “Ask The Fit RV: Best Gym Chains for Travelers

    1. Sam

      Very good article, thanks. I once read an article about Anytime Fitness, they were retired Class B full-timers, and they like Anytime Fitness because they could take showers there.

      My wife and I are senior citizen crossfitters and really enjoy dropping in at different boxes, but like you said, it can be difficult because the hours are not standard anywhere. Sometimes if you go to a new CrossFit gym they won’t charge you anything so that is nice. Another benefit to CrossFit that I like is meeting a bunch of new friends there.

      I think on our next time around we will give Anytime Fitness a shot.

      For us though, the real problem is getting a little motivation to actually get out and exercise. The hardest part about staying in shape is walking in the front door.

      Reply
      1. Stefany - Post author

        Oh Sam, I wish I could highlight your last sentence. So true. I say that to my personal training clients all the time. Once you find the motivation to show-up, the battle’s pretty much won. And thanks for all the feedback on your experience with CrossFit on the road! Very neat you’ve been allowed in free a few times. And I hope other seniors are taking note…CrossFit isn’t only for the young ‘uns! 😉

        Reply
    2. Ed

      Good review Stef. We belong to 24 Hour Fitness and there are deals to be had to reduce the cost. We bought a 24 month membership through Costco that’s a pretty good deal, but the downside is you’re paying the total amount in advance. They offer Sport and Super-Sport memberships.

      Reply
      1. Stefany - Post author

        Glad to hear Costco still is offering the 24 Hour discounted memberships! A super-sport membership would be great, there’d only be a few clubs around the nation that you couldn’t hit. Plus the Super-Sport clubs are super-awesome!!!

        Reply

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