When deciding which type of gym to join the first thing you should think about is what amount of help you are really looking for in a achieving your fitness goals. Not all gyms are right for everyone, from super private one-on-one personal training studios to gym memberships that are under $10, we break down the differences between the gyms and give you a guide to point you in the right direction for your goals.

The Big Box Gym

These are the big name brand gyms like 24hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness, LA Fitness and the like. These gyms are all a little different but the main theme is that you are paying to basically rent space and equipment from these gyms for a small fee. Most of these gyms focus on having a lot of cardio equipment but not as much in terms of free weights. If you know what you are doing and want a bunch of different pieces of equipment to try out this gym is for you. Sometimes these gyms also offer group classes and personal training for additional fees, some include pools, saunas, showers, locker rooms and basketball courts. Most of the time, it’s found that these types of gyms are in the business of selling as many memberships as possible to people that may or may not use them, these memberships are also hard to cancel most of the time.

The 24-Hour Access Membership Gym

This type of gym is relatively new on the market, and it used to be a fast growing trend that I think is dying out more and more. This type of gym is usually small with minimal staff and mostly fixed position machine equipment and cardio machines. Memberships to facilities like this normally include an access key so you can use the gym at any time on your own. These types of gyms normally offer very little assistance though there may be some personal trainers that will do some private training out of them. Some bigger brands in this space are Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness. So if you are a night owl that wants access to a facility where no one will bother you this is the place to be.

The Private Personal Training Facility

This type of training is for those people that want a fully customized experience with the most individual attention possible. These facilities are normally owner operated and is as personal as personal training can get. A lot of the time this is an ask and you shall receive kind of facility. You will only really interact with your trainer, and there may even be cubicle walls separating you from other trainers and clients in the gym. Normally this type of training can address specific injury concerns you might have and your coach can get creative when working with and around injuries. This type of training is normally very expensive so you will be paying top dollar. If you want a truly private experience this is the gym you want to join.


This is a national affiliate program. Crossfit is a big brand and it is really its own type of training. This is large group style training normally conducted in a warehouse and involves a combination of bodyweight, plyometric, strength and olympic lifting type of exercises. Normally these workouts are not customized though they will have modifiers for exercises you can not yet do. These workouts are normally you against the clock. The environment in crossfit facilities is fast paced and competitive. The client to trainer ratio can climb as high as 40:1. This type of facility is middle of the road to low in terms of cost. If you are looking to get things moving fast, thrive in a competitive environment and don’t need a whole lot of individual attention when learning and performing olympic lifts and gymnastics type moves this is the type of gym for you.

Boot Camp/ Circuit Cardio

Popular fitness franchises like Orangetheory Fitness, Fit Body Boot Camp, and F45 follow these types of systems. The time duration and equipment may change but the thought process is the same. You will run a circuit of exercises designed to get your heart rate up. These workouts are timed and everyone in the session runs the same workout at the same time. You will rotate between stations and this type of workout will get you sweating and train your heart. There is not much strength gain that happens during these types of workouts and has a very low amount of customization if any. For some of these types of training programs the workouts will change regularly keeping things interesting for the members. If you want to sweat and work your heart with a large group and a coach motivating you this is the type of gym for you. The pricing of a facility like this is normally a little on the cheaper side because of the lack of customization and the larger group size.

Small Group Training Facility

This type of facility fits somewhere between private personal training/ physical therapy and group strength training. Normal client to trainer ratios are between 4:1 and 6:1 so you get a good blend of personal attention from the coach and interaction with other members at the gym. The big selling point of this type of facility is the community and the variable level of customization. You build great relationships with other members at the gym because it’s not so big that you get lost in the group, and the coaches will make sure to reach out to you if you have not been in the gym. You also get a custom movement assessment that will allow a coach to build a warm up routine just for you and give you exercises in your training that fit your goals and movement abilities. This type of facility can also address all your injury concerns in a proactive way. If you are coming in injured or have pain coaches at these facilities can help you get back to pain free training. This is the facility for people that are looking to get strong, move more freely and lose that unwanted extra weight with in a supportive community. This type of training is priced between personal training and boot camp training. If you are looking to have a guided training experience with a variable level of customization and a supportive community to get strong with this is the place for you.

Here is the breakdown of each gym so that you can find the best one for your needs:

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