I think there is a pretty wide variety of services that gyms here in the US offer. I think you'll find everything from gyms that are very basic--just a place to work out and equipment to work out on to very luxurious, with lots of classes, personal training, spa, towel service, cafe, etc. And everything in between. In my experience, you get what you are willing to pay for--membership in a gym that is very basic will be the least expensive, membership in a gym that has lots of extras will be the most expensive.
The minimum features that I would require in a gym are:
- good location
- convenient hours
- enough cardio equipment that I don't have to wait for a machine, even during peak hours
- a variety of cardio equipment, even if I don't think I'll use it all (you just never know)
- a good selection of weight machines
- a good selection of free weights, especially at the lower end of the scale (5 lb, 8 lb, 10 lb, 12 lb, 15 lb)
- a good selection of toys: Bosus, resistance bands, steps, exercise balls
- Smith machine (at least I think this is what it is called), I use it for lunges and squats when I don't have my trainer there to correct my form
Other things you might find in a gym, depending on what you are willing to pay for:
- personal training
- group exercise programs/classes
- group personal training (smaller than a class, but not quite one-on-one, usually quite a bit cheaper than one-on-one personal training)
- spinning machines and classes
- martial arts classes
- sauna (steam and/or dry)
- spa and/or massage therapists
- towel service
- indoor track
- fitness testing, RMR testing, etc.
In terms of personal training, I think prices vary widely by gym, by region of the country, and by the level of certification of the trainer. I pay about $75 an hour, but I know my gym as trainers that have fewer certifications, or that aren't certified at all, that charge less per hour. Here at 3FC, I've heard of people paying as little as $30 an hour to as much as $100 an hour. I have seen gyms that include personal training in the cost of membership, but they are pretty pricey, much more than $100 a month. There is a Crossfit gym in my area that does that and I think they charge around $1,000 a month. Another alternative that might be available is small group training, which is usually a personal training working with a group of 2 to 6 people. My gym offers it and is quite a bit cheaper than what they charge for one-on-one training.
My Before and After Pics
"Decide what you want; decide what you're willing to exchange for it; establish your priorities, and go to work." --H.L. Hunt
"Life has hills. Set the treadmill at an incline."