Is It Time For a New Gym?

OK readers – I’m contemplating switching gyms and I want your thoughts.

My current gym membership expires in a little over a month. I like my gym. I’ve been a member for about 4 years, and have written about it many times before, including just the other day. There are two locations, it’s clean, it’s rarely so crowded that I can’t use the equipment I want to use, and parking is generally easy. It’s a simple, no-frills gym – no fancy decor, no juice bar, no hot tub or sauna, and on location doesn’t have towel service. And it’s cheap. When I first enrolled 4 years ago, I was paying around $24 a month, but I renewed last year while they were having a special, so right now I’m paying $16 a month (!), and I’ve never paid sign-up, processing, or any other additional fees.

But there’s a big, new fancy gym comin’ to town, and it has caught my eye.

Are you familiar with Crunch Gym? It’s a very fancy, very pricey, high-end company with about 30 locations across the country (mostly in big cities on the east and west coasts). If you watched Will & Grace, than maybe you’ll remember their logo – the characters on that show worked out at Crunch in multiple episodes.

The only Crunch in Los Angeles right now is in West Hollywood (about 30 minutes away). But they’re in the process of building a second location, in Burbank, a few blocks from my current gym. It’s going to be big. It’s going into a retail space that was formerly a CompUSA, and it’s going to be 26,000 square feet. Construction is currently on-track for a mid- to late-March opening. Crunch set up a membership center near their new location, and on Friday, after my workout, I went over to check it out.

This new Crunch facility sounds like it’s going to be awesome. They’re planning on offering 70 classes a week, and stocking the gym with all new, state of the art equipment of all kinds. The woman I was talking to kept peppering our conversation with mentions of types of training and machines that I’ve never heard of before, and it sounds very exciting. Plus, there was a big floor plan of the space on the wall, and I’m a sucker for a floor plan.

And, of course, Crunch has a membership special that’s running right now. Here it is in a nutshell: A full-price membership to Crunch runs $75 a month. I can enroll right now and get access to both the Burbank and West Hollywood locations for $49 a month, plus a one-time $20 processing fee. The monthly billing wouldn’t start until April 1st, which means I’d get access to the West Hollywood location for free for the months of February and March. There also isn’t a contractual length of time: I could hypothetically cancel my membership in May, and they’d stop charging me.

I’m really tempted. Having access to the West Hollywood location for free for two months is exciting, although it’s a little far. The price is great, too – $49 is a good deal for a $75-per-month facility. Then again, $49 is significantly more than the $16 that I’m currently paying. Then again, that $49 will get me access to more machines, more types of exercise, more everthing. Then again, I’d like to think I’m going to love the Burbank location when it opens, but there’s always the chance that, for some reason, I’m going to hate it or it’s going to be ridiculously crowded. There’s lot of “then agains.”

Plus, there’s the matter of my current gym. I have yet to sit down with them to talk about renewing my membership, or what they can offer me, price-wise. I think I’d need to, at minimum, renew for a couple months even if I do sign up with Crunch, just so I have access until the Burbank location opens. Going to the West Hollywood Crunch will be nice, but I just don’t think I’ll be able to swing it into my schedule as often as I want to, and having my little gym 10 minutes away will be nice.

So, there are the facts. What should I do? What would you do? Please offer some input in the comments section!

Oh, and my Friday workout was fantastic – 40 minutes of weights, then 17 minutes of cardio, mostly on the the arc trainer.

Keep it up, David!

14 Responses to Is It Time For a New Gym?

  1. Elizabeth Tudhope says:

    Crunch sounds cool. But, do you think you will use that gym three times as much as your current one – to justify the increased in cost.

    So Cal has such nice weather – there is so much we can do outside for FREE.

    I am a fan of a budget priced gym and do more things outdoors!

  2. It all sounds so exciting, maybe a little too exciting. What if you hate it? If you can afford to pay for both for a couple of months, then can you swing it until May? If so then you can really fairly check out both and see if you like it, if not you’re out some cash, but you can make a more informed decision and be where you really want to be. 🙂

  3. Tara says:

    Okay here’s my $.02 and then some.

    * If you’re thinking about switching then I say go for it. Like old clothes that we wear day in and day out gyms can become comfortable and we never want to “take them off”. New gym, new equipment, new classes = exciting. When I finally left the gym and headed for place that was focused more on bootcamp/crossfit I was thrilled. I got up early again, I hit my work outs hard and while it was short lived (moving to a new country will do that) it was awesome while I was going.

    * You won’t know until you know. Maybe you really love your gym now but unless you go away and take some space you won’t really know. If you hate the new gym you won’t be locked in for long and you can always return to what you know. If you go and love the new gym then you made the right choice.

    * You know where you left all your sweat. You won’t forget that. Ever.

    I say go.

  4. Kenlie says:

    I faced a similar choice a few months ago – $35 dollars a month for a membership that I could use anytime, anywhere there’s a gym, or the new fancy gym with one location and specific hours of operation. There was a 100 dollar sign up fee at the gym, and the price was double per month.

    I thought about it and chose the cheaper gym (no classes, no juice bar, no frills…) because it worked better with my travels and schedule, but since that time, I’ve paid $10 bucks a couple times to use the awesome equipment at the new gym for a day. Going to that gym is like a treat when it happens.

    I still think I made the right decision – cheap, 24/7 access, locations across the US..but if I had been presented with the opportunity to pay $50 a month for the awesome gym (including the classes,. etc) and 20 bucks as opposed to 100 to start, I would have picked the fancy, less convenient gym. Working out is so much fun when you can vary your routines, and our bodies like to change which is another up side to taking different classes – attack, spin, zumba, etc.

    If I were in your shoes (and could afford it) I’d try Crunch for a month or two. If you can cancel the membership if you don’t like it then I say go for it. The biggest down side I see about going to Crunch when it opens in Burbank is that it will be crowded…at least until the newness wears off, but if they can accommodate the people in their giant space then try it. Or maybe wait until it opens and try it free for a week. At Crunch in NY, you can get a week pass free so I’d do that when it opens near you so you can get a feel for that specific location.

    Okay, I think I’m done now…I just have to say that either decision will be a good one because you’re at the gym, making yourself healthier and stronger.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I currently go to Crunch in San Marcos, CA. I pay $9.99/mo for the basic membership or $19.89 for umlimited tanning, massages, free guests, and access to all locations. There are no frills about this location, but there is always an available treadmill whenever i go. I’m pretty happy and my husband and i are saving $300/yr over our membership at LA Fitness.

  6. J. says:

    Mega gyms need to churn members even more to pay for the space. So the monday night newbie mess might be rough. Factor that in compared today however good/bad it is at your gym. As others have commented – will you use it as much to justify it? Only you can answer that really.

    Personally, Iove Planet Fitness, my cheapo 24×5 + weekend gym. I pay $99 a year up front to get the lowest price. I’ve paid that a month at other gyms and not felt much difference. The only gym I was at that was worth it was a work based one that provided gym clothes and did laundry for you – that was worth it.

  7. First the dollars:

    Your current gym costs $192 a year.
    Crunch (with the $49 price you quote + $20 fee) costs $608 a year.

    The difference per year extra = $416.
    The difference per month extra = $34.60.

    (If you’re paying for this on a credit card, the difference could work out to as much as 3 x $416 by the time you factor in interest payments, paid monthly, i.e. as much as $1200 extra per annum overall).

    I don’t know your financial status, but $416 sounds like a lot of money to me, even without interest!


    Do Crunch offer a free trial, with no obligation to join? Sometimes new gyms that are opening up offer this sort of deal, even if they don’t advertise it.

    If they don’t offer a free trial, they should at least offer a short-term (one month or less) trial with no further obligation. If they don’t, they’re not the sort of business you should be entering into a contract with, point blank.

    I reckon if it intrigues you, go along to Crunch, explain that you’re a member of another gym, and say you want to “try before you buy”.

    If Crunch is all it claims, you’ll love it, decide it is worth it, and want to pay and join longer term at the end of your free trial.

    If they don’t offer a free trial, or a short paid trial period, you have to ask, why not? Sounds like they’ll be hiding something to me, and are more interested in taking people’s money than offering a good quality service at a fair price.

    Remember that most gyms make most of their money from up-front yearly membership fees that are never used (people who join at the start of the year with NY resolutions, then stop going after a few weeks).

    So yeah, I’d ask for a short trial. But definitely I wouldn’t plonk my money down for anything longer than a month. The prices you mention above are a LOT of money. And your current gym sounds very fair and reasonable.

    If you love Crunch after a month of no-obligation attendance, and decide it’s worth another $400+ a year, then go for it.

    Sorry to be such a killjoy, can you tell I’ve got a background in economics and come from a family of accountants? 😉

  8. Oh, and I just want to add that you’ve done all your awesome weight loss WITHOUT a fancy schmancy gym.

    Which tells me that no fancy stuff is going to make you any more awesome than you are. Nothing ever could.

    You’re the man.


  9. Sheilah Lowe says:

    What a dilemma. Is it possible to have a trial at Crunch before making a commitment? I can see why it might be exciting to try something new, but don’t forget how loyal an old friend can be. Can’t wait to see what you decide. Keep it up, David!!

  10. Laura says:

    Great comments everyone. I agree that joining a new gym is a great work out motivator. Everything is new and fresh and exciting. That said, I am not a fan of Crunch.

    I belonged to a Cruch gym in Chicago and I had to wait for equipment, the equipment was not maintained well, and classes were packed and difficult to get a spot in. If its that hard to work out its really not worth the upcharge.

    My advice is read the fine print of any contract you sign, and ask them multiple times how to get out of it. There was a goofy process I had to go through involving sending certified mail to some corporate PO box in order to cancel mine, and they didn’t tell me this until I complained multiple times that I thought my contract was cancelled but my card was still being charged.

    Good luck, let us know what you decide!

  11. I’m really torn. Definitely find out about re-upping with your current gym. And who knows — maybe having Crunch as a competitor would cause your gym to start offering some new stuff?

  12. Sarah says:

    Try the new GYM!!!

  13. Coco says:

    I say try it b/c you can always go back to your old gym and workout routine. Exercise and going to the gym will be part of your life for the rest of your life so you have to shake things up to stay motivated. For me, ever 2 years or so I change my entire exercise routine or gym and that seems to keep me from getting bored out of my mind. That said, I don’t belong to a gym right now b/c I’m enjoying running outside and doing strength training at home. Keep it up, Daveeed!

  14. Stu says:

    I used to be a member of the WeHo Crunch and loved it. The classes were awesome, (particularly the spinning)… and it was always relatively busy (good atmosphere), but never really had any problems getting on the machines. the live DJs are awesome too.
    People said that it was a bit of a posers gym, but I never found that. There were lots of hot people there, true.. but everyone was focussed on their workout and not really paying attention to anyone else (as it should be).

    After a spell back in the UK, I came back to LA and joined the Hollywood 24hr fitness, and I hardly ever go. Part of that is because it’s not really on my way to or from work. It’s about a 20 min drive from my house, and parking costs $3 per visit. I think the combination of the travel and the parking fees are creating a psychological barrier to going. I’ve never been in the habit of going, either, so maybe I just haven’t given it a chance.

    I am, in fact, contemplating moving back to Crunch… I think the way it’s laid out, the other clientele, the music, the towels.. the whole package make it a place it’s enjoyable to be… but you do pay a premium for that.

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