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How To Find a Gym in a New City


Summer is the season for a fresh start! The sun is out, classes are over, and many collegiettes are working internships or jobs in new cities across the country. While exhilarating, moving to a new city creates a lot of challenges, including maintaining your fitness regimen. But even in unfamiliar territory, Her Campus has your back! Here is your comprehensive guide to finding a gym or a workout routine that will work for you, no matter where you are in the world.

Decide What Kind of Workout You’re Looking For

Are you a passionate Pilates enthusiast? Do you get bored easily on one cardio machine? Or are you just trying to work the treadmill until you build up a sweat? Keep these preferences in mind as you browse gyms in your neighborhood. If you are likely to only take group fitness classes, a studio that specializes in your course of interest—be it yoga, pilates, barre, or kickboxing—might be a better option than a gym membership. The instructors there have more expertise in their field, more variation in their classes, and more frequently offered classes throughout the day.

For example, Barre Bee Fit (a barre studio in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, Milwaukee and Indianapolis) offers classes about every half hour from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and then again from 4:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., making it easy to fit your fitness class into your schedule. An additional benefit is that while many gyms charge additional fees for studio classes on top of the membership costs, specialized studios charge only per class. Most studios also have a variety of packages. Barre Bee Fit and most other barre studios allows you to buy classes individually, in packs of five, in packs of twelve, or a month-long pass, allowing you to pay only for how many classes you plan to attend.

On the other hand, if you aren’t too particular about your workout as long as you can hop on a machine and get a good sweat going, you might want to think about joining a smaller, non-chain gym. You will save a lot of money by not paying for the excess amenities that you won’t be using. If you need a constant change in your workout to stay motivated, a larger gym offering both classes and machines in addition to a pool and a track could be the best choice for you. Before joining a gym, consider exactly what you’ll be using it for, and make sure its amenities match your needs!

Search for Gyms or Studios in Your Area

In a city, there will be a plethora of gyms at your fingertips! Courtney Kabbes, a recent grad of Indiana University, says living in a larger city for the summer increased her gym options. “I'm interning in Chicago this summer and was excited about all the new fitness opportunities available to me,” she says. “I've been wanting to try barre classes for a while (a combination of yoga and ballet) and I finally have the opportunity.”

For a quick search to see what’s available in your area, check out Gym Locator. Just enter your city and it will generate a list of the names and addresses of all the gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers in your area.

If you’re interested in a studio, many disciplines have their own studio locators online. For example, Yoga Finder and Everything About Pilates can be used to find a yoga or Pilates class near you.

If you live or work near a university with a gym or recreation center, they may provide local resident passes for an affordable price. For example, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., offers student rates for their gym passes for $250 a semester, and New York University offers membership rates to visiting students. Some schools even run intramural seasons during the summer!

Think About Proximity

We all know how important motivation is to getting your workout in. During the summer when you’re running from job to social event, it can be even harder to convince yourself that your gym trip is worth the time! Finding a gym that’s conveniently located can be a game changer for whether or not you get your money’s worth out of that gym pass.

Think about what time in the day you are most likely to work out. Do you need to go straight from work before you hit the couch and lose steam? Or would you prefer to go later in the evening, once you’ve had a chance to relax? If you’re a proponent of the former, a gym near the office might work best. The latter? Look for a gym closer to home. It’ll be much easier to motivate yourself to get to the gym if it isn’t a 10-mile trek away!

Look at the Schedule

Before buying a gym pass, make sure the hours fit your schedule. Try visiting the gym at the time when you would be going to see how busy it is—some gyms will be packed right before and after normal working hours. You don’t want to get your workout fighting someone for the elliptical! If you’re interested in taking group fitness classes, make sure they’re offered at times that you will actually be able to go.

Ask About Trial Passes

If you can, ask for a trial pass or buy a guest pass to test out the gym before committing to a membership. This will allow you to make sure it meets your standards for sanitation, has your desired amenities, and provides a workout environment that you enjoy. It helps to know exactly what you’re getting before you invest!

Lindsay Geller from Emerson College suggests keeping an eye out for trial classes in studios as well. “A lot of studios that do group classes offer a free first time trial class, so I would suggest [looking] for these offers in order to find a fitness class that works,” she says.

Be Mindful of Memberships

Many gyms require yearlong commitments for memberships—not super useful to an intern only in the city for the summer! If you join a gym with a yearlong contract, look to see if there are locations in other cities that you can access from home or school, and be sure to check that your membership can travel with you when you leave. For example, a membership at LA Fitness, a fitness club chain with locations across the country, gives you access to any of their locations, wherever you are. Otherwise, look for a gym that offers month-to-month memberships.

Save with Social Discount Sites

Another great way to find gym passes for affordable prices is to check out discount sites like Groupon. Groupon allows you to search and find discounts on great deals in your city, because they’ve already negotiated a “group” rate for you. The trick is that the “groups” are comprised of distinct individuals using their site all across the city, allowing individual buyers to access a group rate. The website has a whole tab for “Health & Fitness” that can be narrowed to reflect workout deals in any city. There are often great discounts available for gym passes in your area.

Jaclyn Turner, a collegiette from the University of Maryland, used Groupon to find a month-long membership to a gym over her winter break and highly recommends the site. “It was a 30 day pass for $15, and the club had amazing Zumba classes,” she says. “Since I was in town for such a short time, the gym pass made it easy for me to stay in shape instead of having to pay the almost $80 my old gym wanted me to pay to reactivate my membership.”

You can also use Groupon to find more creative ways to stay in shape outside of the gym. Along with gym pass discounts, the Health & Fitness tab includes everything from salsa dancing classes to rock climbing, all at a discount. Lindsay used Groupon to a deal on group fitness classes. “I used a Groupon purchase to buy 10 Zumba classes at a local Zumba studio in Boston, and I absolutely love it!” she says. “I also tried a Life in Synergy fitness class and was immediately hooked, so I bought their 10-class package, too!”

LivingSocial also offers some great fitness opportunities under their “Sports and Fitness” and “Events & Activities” section, such as mud runs and dance classes. The site provides yoga classes and gym passes under their Events & Activities tab as well, but be careful that you aren’t distracted by the beer tours and Cirque du Soleil tickets strewn in!

Didn’t Find a Gym You Liked?

If the gym pickings are slim, don’t worry—there are alternatives that can keep you in shape this summer!

Free Workouts

Running: Even if you’ve never been too keen on the treadmill, like Katrina Kairys from McGill University, you might find running a pleasant alternative to an expensive or inaccessible gym. Katrina explains how she was turned on to running after trying a forest running trail near downtown Montreal on recommendation from a friend. “It's a great escape from the busy city and all the exhaust fumes,” she says. “It really feels like you're miles from civilization and it's a great way to de-stress! I suggest running as far away from street lights and intersections as possible, and I can guarantee you'll love it more.” If you’ve never ran before but would like to try it, try a run/walk program like Couch to 5K to get you started.

Walking: If running isn’t your cup of tea, try a long walk through the city or a power walk through the park. The benefit here is that you can bring a friend along or call your friends back home for a nice catch-up!

Runs and walks can also be a great way to explore a new area while getting a workout in. Check out Google Maps to look for parks or running trails in your area, but be sure to run or walk during the day and make sure your path is safe first! Another great way to find good routes in your city is Map My Run. It allows you to search by run length and location to find paths other people in your area have done and recommended.

At-Home Workouts

If you have a really tight schedule and can’t seem to make it to the gym or a class, working out at home is still a great option. With the resources of the Internet at your fingertips, home workouts have never been easier! You can use Pinterest, YouTube channels like Fitness Blender or Victoria Secret’s VSX Sport: VS Angel Workouts. Even yoga is available online now, through YouTube videos or specialized programs like One World of Yoga.

In addition to fitness videos, there are countless fitness blogs you can get effective at-home workouts from, like The Fitnessista and meals & moves. Or, check out Her Campus’s Dorm Room Workout.

Hit the gym, the road, or the mat, and then enjoy the fruits of your hard work when you hit the beach with your friends!

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