The term “gym” is branded around as an all-encompassing term for a place to workout. If you’ve never been to a gym before though, you might not realize that there are a number of different options in terms of equipment, services, prices, and most importantly – the way you’ll exercise.
A broader term to describe a gym is often a fitness center. These establishments often have a range of equipment and facilities but there are many types of fitness centers/gyms and their benefits will vary depending on individual requirements.
In this article, we’ll cover the different types of fitness centers so that you know which one is best for your specific goals, requirements, or interests!
What Are The Different Types of Fitness Centers?
Below, we’ll list all the different types of fitness centers and run you through the options that might be best suited to each individual. Once you get through the list you might be surprised by just how many different gyms/fitness centers actually exist!
The most basic form of a fitness center is a gym. As we’ll cover in this list, you can get different types of gyms depending on your geographical location or preference but the most basic form of gym includes weight training equipment, cardio machines, and a studio room for group classes.
They have basic facilities like changing rooms, showers, vending machines, and water coolers and most will have a team of personal trainers. Original gyms were weight rooms used by college athletes or bodybuilders but over the years, fitness has become a more important aspect of everyday life so the gyms have improved in line with the increased demand.
When you consider a gym these days, you’ll most likely be accustomed to Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, Pure Gym, or other chain gyms that offer low membership fees, 24-hour access but very basic equipment and facilities.
Something else to consider is that these gyms can also be strict in terms of “hardcore” training. There are certain gyms that don’t allow chalk and also gyms that don’t allow deadlifts! Therefore, if you are looking for something more serious in terms of training, you need to keep the above in mind.
A fitness center is the most general term when describing a gym. As mentioned, gyms are like the basic entry-level whereas a fitness center will often have a “gym” alongside other facilities like a sports hall or gymnasium, swimming pool, sauna/steam room, tanning bed, juice bar, members lounge, more personal trainers and often a better range of equipment.
When you think of a fitness center, it’s basically a bigger gym for those that have more interest than just hitting the treadmill or squat rack. Many will join a fitness center with a group of friends or if you are a more active individual and want access to a greater range of equipment.
While fitness centers are still relatively affordable, they are still mid-level establishments in the grand scheme of training. Once your fitness or physical requirements get to a certain level, many people leave a fitness center in search of a more specialized training facility like a Crossfit gym, weightlifting gym, or private studio.
Women’s fitness centers are exclusively for women. Typically, women’s gyms are established so that women who may feel uncomfortable working out in regular gyms and fitness centers can workout without discomfort.
Women’s fitness centers offer all the basic equipment that other types of fitness centers do, with the only difference being that there are no male members and that males are not permitted to workout there. These centers are known to offer their members various classes and fun group activities, as well.
They are often smaller than others since there are fewer members but operate just the same way, with members having to sign up and pay a monthly fee of varying amounts to use the facility.
Private Studio (Personal Training)
You can find personal trainers at almost any kind of fitness center but this variety of centers specializes in them, offering them exclusively.
Personal training centers are small private studios at which members sign up to work out with someone else — their personal trainer. They don’t tend to have as many different types of equipment as larger, general fitness centers but still have everything that their members need to be successful.
This kind of center usually offers cardio equipment, weights, and training gear for those serious about their workout and getting fit so you’ll usually find they have a power rack, rower, treadmill, spin bike, multi-purpose frame, dumbbell area, and accessory equipment.
The downside of an establishment like this is that it can be expensive. Weekly sessions with an assigned personal trainer can cost a small fortune, which is what tends to set this kind of center apart from others. You get a more personal session and as these studios are less busy, you can usually have an uninterrupted workout with all the equipment you need (no waiting for benches!).
Big box fitness centers are all-purpose community centers that offer a variety of services and equipment. They include chain centers that can be found all over the country or the world, depending on the center in question.
They offer a bit of everything, often boasting a large area for cardio and weights as well as other areas as long as the establishment has the room.
Big box centers are known for offering group classes, personal training, and for having extended hours of operation. Sometimes they even offer childcare for parents who workout there. In addition, they might also have an indoor sports area or swimming pool.
This type of center can be broken down even further into subsections including a budget, mid-range, and luxury. Obviously, budget big box centers are noted for their affordability, while mid-range are popular for their meshing of an affordable price and luxury amenities.
Luxury big box centers are the most expensive and offer the most extensive range of services. They might offer spa services, a sauna, or other extras, which is what drives the price up.
Weight lifting centers are used for weight lifting and strength training. They can be small or large in terms of establishment size and can be public or private.
Like all fitness centers, they require a membership. They’re available to both men and women who are interested in the sport, with most of the fitness centers of this genre being coed in operation.
Some of these fitness centers offer private training and spotters, while others do not.
Typically, they house all sorts of weight lifting equipment from dumbbells and kettlebells to free weight lifting products. Power racks, Olympic lifting platforms, heavyweights, plenty of weight plates, and a range of resistance training machines are available ideally for those bodybuilding or following strength-based programs.
Not too dissimilar from the weightlifting or powerlifting gyms is a Crossfit gym. Crossfit combines Olympic weightlifting, cardiovascular endurance, and bodyweight training in a very competitive atmosphere and lifting environment.
Crossfit gyms are more of a community gym and while members compete against each other through WODs and competition, there is always a feeling of community at these gyms. Crossfit is definitely not for beginners though so keep that in mind when enquiring in these gyms.
Rock climbing fitness centers are dedicated to those who enjoy rock climbing. These centers have a number of rock walls for climbing and are open to the general public. They lay down a standard for health and safety that all members must adhere to in order to participate.
When joining a rock climbing fitness center, members are granted access to a variety of rock walls of all different skill levels and difficulties. Oftentimes, these gyms will even offer rock climbing lessons and help from professionals to ensure that everyone stays safe.
In some rock climbing centers, there are walls for both children and adults, which makes the experience more family-friendly and fun.
Yoga and Mind-Body
Typically called yoga studios instead of yoga fitness centers, yoga-based establishments are a type of fitness center. They cater to yoga lovers and those who enjoy working out without too much strenuous activity.
They can be operated by large chains or by small business owners and are open to everyone and anyone who wants to join. Sometimes they are free, while other times they require a paid membership. Regardless, they usually offer group classes at different levels.
Some yoga studios will have extra perks such as showers or changing rooms, where members can clean up and change their clothes after a session.
Other mind-body fitness centers that operate in a similar fashion include pilates and dance.
Boxing clubs can be considered a type of fitness center. At these centers, members focus on boxing — both for maintaining and improving fitness and for wellness of the mind. Many boxing clubs offer lessons and one-on-one sessions, as well as group activities.
In line with boxing are wrestling centers, which operate in much the same way and offer most of the same services.
These gyms come kitted out with cardio equipment and a small range of weightlifting gear (depending on the size of the gym) but the main focus is of course on boxing equipment with punch bags, speedballs, pads, and a sparring ring being the main selling point.
More often than not, country clubs are part of a golf club. Members have access to both the fitness center and the golf club in the area.
Aside from golf, those signed up at a country club are treated with a plethora of things to do fitness-wise. This can include – swimming, tennis or other racquet sports, volleyball, basketball, walking, weight training, and yoga. After a workout, members often have the means to take a hot shower or visit the hot tub, sauna, or massage table.
Many country clubs have on-site restaurants and food carts, as well as quaint cafes and small shops. There are some that are family-friendly but many prefer to have only adult members. Going even further, some country clubs only admit seniors or those over 50 years old.
What Is the Difference Between Fitness Centers, Gyms and Health Clubs
As these terms get used interchangeably, it’s important to distinguish between them and consider the difference between fitness centers, gyms, and health clubs.
A gym is the most basic version of a fitness center with basic facilities including weight training and cardio equipment. A fitness center is a more encompassing facility that also includes swimming, sports, and competitions. Finally, a health club is a more refined facility offering fitness equipment alongside spa facilities.
When it comes to different types of fitness centers, there are quite a few to consider. If you are looking to improve purely your physical aspects, consider using a big box gym, weightlifting or powerlifting gym, boxing gym, private studio, or a Crossfit gym.
If you want to look for a fitness center with more wellness aspects, consider a yoga studio, country club, health club, or pilates studio. Finally, if you are just looking to be more active in general then a general fitness center or leisure center will have everything you need.