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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!!
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:
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:
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:
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:
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!
The Fit RV
We’re looking for gyms for my son, (heavy lifter), to use while traveling in Ireland. Any suggestions?
Neither of us has ever been to Ireland, unfortunately!
I love your channel and you are partly to blame for us going with a Class B as our first RV. We are so glad we did. I am slowly semi-retiring myself out to longer road trips and my wife is a ACE Instructor. She loves the videos you have put out on fitness on the road Stef and I geek out on James’ “do you have a screwdriver handy” approach
I am just curious as to anyone who has boondocked in the parking lot of either Planet Fitness or Anytime fitness. Are they open to it for members on the road?
We once belonged to Anytime Fitness and used them on the road. Now Snap Fitness is more convenient to me since they are just a half mile down on the bike/hiking trail of our new home and Nancy desired a fitness center with a swimming pool so she joined Lifetime Fitness who’s headquarters is just three miles away from our home.
Snap Fitness is a 24 hour fob entry franchise operation with shower room but not nearly a prolific as Anytime Fitness. My supplemental health insurance pays for it 100%.
$20/mo for Planet Fitness? That must be the deluxe version with Sun room and vibration massage chairs, lol. Of course, there is only about one good PF per city that’s open 24/7, but that’s ok with me. The main goal for Van Dwellers (imo) is going to a fitness club that members can go to any club available in the chain (i.e – Nationwide showers!)
Planet Fitness (PF) did not have global membership last year, and you did not directly address that in your fitness report (incidentally referred to perhaps.) I did go to a $10/mo PF, and you can not beat it with a stick. But NEVER go to ANY fitness chain from 5pm to about 8pm (or was that 9pm?)! I forgot and don’t want to know bad enough to find out 😮 People just stand behind (they act like they are their) machines guarding them until they can muster up courage to do a set and move on (for up to an hour a set!)
Gold’s gym in LA near the airport was a good one (w/ a BOSU leg rise frame, lots of BOSU balls, and college trained
fitness instructors), but again, they did not have Universal Gym membership. If someone had that, then they would have a lot of business. ** It is something that is never mentioned in reviews, maybe to shield usage to people who would take advantage of it! 🙁 However, you may get universal membership at PF for the $20 rate: I’ll find out and sign up immediately if so!
Yep! The universal gym membership exists at Planet Fitness, loads of RVers use it… super convenient! But I did just check the rates and it’s now up to $22 per month. Here’s the link: https://www.planetfitness.com/gym-memberships
Good deal! Thanks Stef. I always thought it would be a synergistic match. And the $22/mo crowd would be a step up from the $10/mo crowd: and use the facilities less often too!
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinners for All! Good report Stef for health and finances 🙂
Really glad I came across you guys… interesting article and backed up our thoughts on anytime fitness chain.
I owned a kettlebell gym for 8+ years before selling it at the beginning of last year.
We are in the process of selling our home and looking at extended travelling.
Subscribed and also ‘followed’ on IG.
Safe travels and stay strong
Have a great one
Hey Steve! Thanks for the nice comment, very cool you’re a fellow fitness pro. Glad you’re following along and best of luck in your future adventures!
All Planet Fitness locations have full locker rooms and private showers. The hours are standardized to either 24/7 or 24/5 (shorter weekend hours) in most locations and they have over 1300 locations accross the US, Canada & PR and growing. They have an phone app you can use to find and navigate to locations while on the road. The “black card” membership for $20 a month provides access to all locations plus unlimited HydroMassage, massage chairs, & guest privileges. If you travel a lot, stopping at Planets for a workout, shower and massage really hits the spot. Get the “Black Card” online right now for $0 down, month to month, no commitment at the St. George, Utah location and try it out.
Any suggestions for those of us who are lap swimmers? For about the past 6 years, I’ve maintained an LA Fitness membership, but I am unsure if other good options exist.
At times I have not been pleased with the way LA Fitness manages their facilities, but their pools and their group fitness rooms (yoga) are significantly better and larger than 24 Hour Fitness, which focuses more on machines.
Back when I joined LA Fitness, there was no multi-facility membership option (I was told). If you were lucky, you could wheedle your way into a club that wasn’t your “home” club by showing them your app or key tag and striking a deal with them on day use.
That has changed. Right now (Dec. 2016) they have an explicit option where the published rate is $25.99 for single-club membership or $29.99 for multi-club. I’m already paying $29.99 because I have a “grandfathered” single-club membership. They refused to convert me to a multi-club membership at that same monthly rate unless I pay another initiation fee (nope!), but at least now with a single-club membership there is a formalized process by which I can pay five bucks and use another club in another location, rather than it being hit-or-miss as it was several years ago.
Yeah that gets more tough. Planet Fitness and Anytime would be out of the running…but most 24 Hours do have pools. If your goal was swimming on the road, I’d probably stick with paying day rates and hunting for community rec centers and YMCA’s.
Personally, the only pools I utilize are underutilized 50 meter lap lanes at a Technical Institute or Army base due to free-range peeing of kids and Seniors. That’s a lot of chlorine! Wonderful weightless sport though: I agree 😉
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.
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! 😉
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.
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!!!