The range of gyms in New York City is as varied as the unhealthy indulgences that our metropolis offers. But when trying to ascertain which is the best gym for you, making a decision could come down to the type of workout you’re looking for. For a high-end experience, try Equinox (extras include Kiehl’s-stocked locker rooms and juice bars), one of three David Barton Gyms (where all of the trainers are selected by Barton himself, and the stylish locations often host live DJs) or the massive Sports Center at Chelsea Piers, which boasts areas for running, rock climbing, basketball, volleyball, boxing and swimming, in addition to dozens of classes. Standbys like New York Sports Clubs and Crunch both offer yoga, Pilates, spinning and rock-climbing programs, plus sauna facilities and even babysitting services, so there’s no excuse for not putting your membership to good use.
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Since it opened in the East Village in 1989, this gym has expanded into a ten-state empire with an inclusive and welcoming approach. There are nine locations scattered throughout Manhattan and two in Brooklyn, with a new branch in Chelsea scheduled to open in October 2012. Each spot offers an array of group classes that include dance-based workouts, spinning, yoga and strength-training sessions. Some boast specialized spaces like boxing rings and rock-climbing walls, while others offer juice bars, steam rooms and saunas to relax post-workout. Locations throughout the city; visit crunch.com for details. Membership fee $69.99–$99.99 per month.
David Barton Gym
When you step into any of the three locations in Manhattan, you may wonder whether you’re actually at a gym. The Astor Place site is decked out in punk-rock regalia, the Chelsea location looks like a nightclub, and the Madison Avenue branch resembles a high-society living room. The 18 classes—with names like Pain & Pleasure, Rope Burn and Melt—are included in your membership, and every personal trainer in the company is hand-selected by David Barton himself, a Cornell-educated former bodybuilder and personal trainer. Special events like block parties and DJ sets while members sweat help to make this gym popular with the fashion, nightlife and media crowds. 4 Astor Place between Broadway and Lafayette St (212-505-6800) • 215 W 23rd St at Seventh Ave (212-414-2022) • 30 E 85th St at Madison Ave (212-517-7577) • davidbartongym.com. Memberships from $115 per month.
This fitness behemoth calls itself a “lifestyle brand” rather than a gym. They still have equipment for your workout, but they also provide members with the comforts of home. This means special touches like Kiehl’s beauty products in the locker room, playlists composed by celebrities on their blog and on-site clothing boutiques. There are 20 locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and each of them is designed to keep its carbon footprint as small as possible. Most branches have standard spa services like massages, but some locations offer more luxurious treatments like facials, aquatherapy and even eyelash extensions. Locations throughout the city; visit equinox.com. Memberships $141–$183 per month, plus initiation fee.
New York Sports Club
With a total of 52 gyms located throughout the five boroughs (with 37 concentrated in Manhattan), a workout here is only a warm-up jog away. NYSC offers more than 100 group fitness classes that are free for members. Try kickboxing and other martial-arts-inspired techniques, sessions designed for athletes in training, yoga, Pilates, spinning or XpressLine workouts that target all the body’s major muscle groups in a single 22-minute circuit. Its rates are much lower than some of the city’s other options—a trial membership is $30 for 30 days. Locations throughout the city; visit mysportsclub.com. Memberships from $49.95 per month.
This gym chain has 20 locations scattered through all five boroughs, with hours of operation that make it adaptable to all kinds of schedules. Many of the Manhattan and Brooklyn sites operate continuously from midnight on Sunday nights through 10pm on Fridays (and 7am–7pm on weekends). In addition to plentiful cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, Arc Trainers and exercise bikes, all branches offer extras like tanning and massage chairs, while select locations also include red light therapy booths and hydro massage beds. Every gym also hosts pizza parties on the first Monday of every month, so take advantage of the free carb-loading before burning off the extra calories—along with the midnight oil. Locations throughout the city; visit planetfitness.com. Memberships from $10 per month with $29 annual fee.
24 Hour Fitness
The six local branches—four in NYC and two in New Jersey—of this national chain stay true to their round-the-clock name without skimping on amenities. High-end perks—including towel service, saunas, steam rooms, laundry service, lounges and juice bars—top off the already stellar list of exercise spaces, such as lap pools, TRX Suspension Training equipment, strength machines, cycling stations and traditional free weights. Membership fees vary depending on how many locations you’d like access to, but monthly fees start out at around $60. Locations throughout the city and New Jersey; visit 24hourfitness.com.
The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers
While this West Side complex offers workout options for all tastes and experience levels, it caters to athletes looking to hone their skills. Facilities include a quarter-mile indoor running track, three hardwood basketball courts, a regulation boxing ring, a six-lane swimming pool, rock-climbing areas and NYC’s only indoor sand-volleyball court. More than 100 group classes take place every week, and if the weather plays ball, many are held on one of the two expansive outdoor sun decks, as well as in the adjacent Hudson River Park. There are no time limits on any of the equipment in the gym, and the 20,000-square-foot space guarantees that you won’t have to worry about hogging the elliptical machine. Chelsea Piers, Pier 60, 20th St at the Hudson River (212-336-6000, chelseapiers.com/sc). Membership fee $142–$180 per month.
The Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club/NY
The two massive branches of this fitness company—the original New York location on Columbus Circle and on the Upper East Side—both feature swimming pools, rooftop workout areas, sports leagues, and dozens of private and group fitness classes. The UES site even has childcare options as well as dining atthe Terrace Grille, so you don’t have to worry about finding a babysitter or cooking dinner. The Sports Club/LA, 330 E 61st St between First and Second Aves (212-335-5100). Memberships $152–$320 per month, plus $150 initiation fee. • Reebok Sports Club/NY, 160 Columbus Ave at 67th St (212-362-6800). Memberships $214–$350 per month, plus $300 initiation fee. • thesportsclubla.com