Alaska Rock has reasonable "pay as you go" fees and low-cost monthly passes, despite being in a stunning 24,000-square-foot facility that includes 20,000 square feet of climbing -- an entire floor of boulder terrain -- as well as fitness and cardio space and a peaceful yoga room, all in support of summiting.
With a heavy emphasis on core, strength, and flexibility training, Arkansas Fitness & Athletics breaks from franchise gyms by including its hands-on trainers as part of three-month, six-month, or yearly memberships, though premium group or one-on-one coaching is available.
In the land of "gym scenes" where cliques rule, the smaller, friendlier A Tighter U gets high marks for "The Hollywood Trainer" Steve Zim's hands-on, low-key, approach, especially from women who don't want to attend large, corporate gyms. Bonus: You will likely see a celeb or two.
Bladium covers fitness from CrossFit and Group-X sessions to a kids' zone, youth and adult soccer facilities, and cardio, spinning, and weight training fitness rooms. Certified personal trainers are on site, including an Ironman athlete and corrective exercise specialist.
Gym at Bloomfield Crossing experts are good at customizing plans by fitness levels -- and the site participates in the Silver Sneakers program, which gives seniors with the right insurance free access to more than 1,100 facilities nationwide by reimbursing their costs.
Look for highly rated water fitness classes taking place in the Hockessin Athletic Club's huge pool, plus a few impressive clubs and activities from tap to martial arts, as well as some less about breaking a sweat -- Dancing with Parkinson's, and courses in women's self-defense, and CPR and First Aid.
Naples Strength & Conditioning has lower rates than other CrossFits and gyms, and no contracts, making this a money-saving win. There are tough boot camps and master classes, but also community activities, nutrition counseling, and health and wellness education.
If you ask the owner, Ageless isn't a gym, but a place of renewal and happiness, with a low-stress, playful approach where members earn "badges" for swag and bragging rights. It's open 24 hours a day and is in the Silver Sneakers fitness reimbursement program for seniors with insurance.
A highly rated gym on two levels at Iowa State University, Lied packs in a huge pool, two full tracks, basketball courts, a climbing wall, and other equipment (and, for anyone in the extended university community, intramural sports ranging from flag football to poker, broomball, and curling).
Classes and top-notch equipment rule in Fuel Center, and so do brands and buzzwords. Stay up to date with Boot Camp Challenge, Total Body Eclipse, X-Cycle, S.P.A.C.E. Program, and Nitro Kick Boxing if doing circuit work is boring. Add to that, a full gym with Power Circuit X-press, Piloga, Bokwa, and Zumba too.
Maine Warrior is for the whole family, but a specific kind of family that wants parkour training grounds, adult and youth ninja programs -- and outright "American Ninja Warrior" TV show training from a two-time finalist in addition to cardio machines and classes. Coming soon: A virtual-reality obstacle course workout.
The luxurious EverybodyFights co-founded in 2014 by George Foreman III has kickboxing and fighting classes for beginners and more advanced fighters, as well as innovative classes such as BoxFIIT, a heart-pumping mix of boxing, yoga, running, Pilates, and CrossFit.
Basketball, racquetball, and squash courts, jacuzzi, dry sauna, and steam room, child care, and a huge pool are pluses at this Montana Athletic Club, a facility that has both world-class equipment and scholarship memberships with financial aid for qualified individuals and families.
In addition to top-of-the-line gear, the 6,000-square-foot Elevate has classes including gravity training, BodySolid training, and Kinesis fitness, combining cardio, strength, and flexibility training for all fitness levels. A la carte pricing helps customers select what they need.
The family-friendly facility called The Gym can also sound a lot like a spa, with customized facials, massages, and reflexology, fresh, plush towels, salon-style hair dryers, and a sauna and restorative steam bath alongside yoga, Pilates, Group-X, and a Kinesis station. There's a juice bar with complimentary Wi-Fi, of course, and child care.
Black Box is a CrossFit affiliate and the home of High Desert Weightlifting and specializes in elite-level coaching in athletic performance, weightlifting, strength, and nutrition. It welcomes all levels, though, and newcomers are given four hours of one-on-one personal training to CrossFit techniques and tools.
No big bargains, but plenty of high marks at Drive 495, whose owner, Don Saladino, is a personal trainer for athletes and celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Reynolds, and Blake Lively. It's got golf simulators and golf lessons, cryotherapy, laundry service, acupuncture, filtered water, and high-end shaving supplies. Bring your wallet. Leave lighter.
If you haven't considered the barbell as a key fitness tool, let Capital school you. Barbells are used as a core training tool at one of the state's rare independent gyms, where there's eight individual racking areas to load for maximum versatility.
The 24-hour Hub actually proclaims itself the "anti big-box gym," not just because it's got a killer location in the town's thriving arts and entertainment district, but for its personal touch, including custom fitness plans for all and trainers who take time to explain every machine to newbies.
If Rascals weren't already drawing members with good gear, free InBody testing, and its philosophy ("our gyms have been created for normal people who don't want a hardcore fitness regime, but who do want to get the most out of life by keeping active"), it also offers membership in Silver Sneakers and ClassPass, which allows access to classes and programs to fitness lovers visiting from across the United States, U.K., and Canada.
Exclusive gets a lot of its juice from its hands-on owner, certified personal trainer and bodybuilder Wade Wilburn, who runs a staff good at helping people with weight loss, bulking up, sport conditioning, or regaining strength, balance, and coordination after an illness.
Not everything in Texas is big. Owner Kelley Gray, who now consults and manages several Texas gyms, found a niche at Trophy between cheap, impersonal chain gyms and pricey fitness centers for the elite. Trophy's three locations emphasize the personal touch (but every cardio machine still has attached flat-panel LCD screens).
Salt Lake City
Dash is the home of a high-intensity, low-impact workout patented and trademarked in Utah by studio owner Lacey Bruschke. Called Obsidian, it combines cardio, resistance, core, balance, flexibility, active recovery, and weight training into 60 minutes of calorie-burning and muscle building.
Seattle Fitness is one of the city's oldest health clubs -- it opened in 1984 -- and has spent the time figuring out how to keep such a small club from feeling crowded and how to see to winning details (don't be surprised to find showers stocked with body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, and a blow dryer) when a day pass is little more than $10.