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The Ultimate Gym Chain Comparison June 2019: Helping you choose the right gym for you

There are a lot of gyms out there, but knowing which is the best gym to choose can be hard. We've collated all the information, so you don't have to.

You've decided to join the gym, well done! Now, where do you start?

There are so many gyms to choose from. Choosing the best gym for you will depend on what you want to get out of your gym experience. Some people want to join the classes, whereas others just want a wide array of equipment to choose from.

When you go to some franchised gym websites, it's hard to actually know whether there's a joining fee, or what the weekly cost will be. Don't worry, we've gathered all the information for you so that you can see what each gym offers and whether it suits your needs.

So, whether you're after a gym with a wide range of classes, or one that's open 24 hours, our ultimate gym comparison guide is here to help.


Compare the gym chains in Australia:

Gym Number of gyms Joining fee? Cost 24 hours? Classes Further information
Anytime Fitness 3,200+ $99 $15.95 p/w Yes Yes Full review
Fitness First 62 $65 (It can vary) $33 p/w No Yes Full review
Jetts 250 $158 $14.95 p/w Yes No Full review
Virgin Active 6 $0 on 12-month contract $34.95 p/w No Yes Full review
Plus Fitness 180+ $99 $13.95 p/w Yes Yes Full review
Fitness Playground 4 $0 from $16.95 p/w Yes Yes Full review
Snap Fitness 200+ $59 (It can vary) from $14.95 p/month Yes Yes Full review
City Gym 1 (Sydney) $0 from $22.92 p/w No Yes Full review
Fernwood Fitness 70+ $199 $22 p/w Some Yes Full review

You might prefer an online fitness program - If you'd rather workout at home but you still need structure, you can try out a workout from home program.


anytime fitness

Source: Instagram

1. Anytime Fitness

No of gyms: 3200+

Joining fee: $99 and $69.95 for access card

Cost of membership: From $67.95 per month. Only 12-month contracts are currently available.

24 hours: Yes

Classes: These are free and often of the group variety.

Facilities: 24-hour access and security, private showers, private restrooms, convenient parking. Training facilities include cardio and floor areas. Their equipment at most gyms includes cardio equipment, free weights and functional training equipment.


exercising

Source: Instagram

2. Fitness First

No of gyms: 62

Joining fee: $65 (varies)

Cost of membership? $60 per fortnight (3 month contract) or from $22 p/w (18 months). Flexible membership options are available - either 3, 12 or 18 month contracts. Passport and Platinum memberships, which allow you to access Fitness First's Platinum and/or Passport clubs throughout Australia. Platinum is the most expensive as it gives the choice of access to both types of clubs. Either way, 18 month contracts are the most cost effective option. If you don't think you'd get enough use for a contract to be worth the expense, you can also choose to pre-pay for a set number of visits - either 10 or 25.

24 hours: No

Classes: Yes, group ones mostly. Freestyle Group Training sessions are designed as fun, fast and effective workouts (30 minutes each session) for harnessing your body's natural movement. Group Exercises classes take many different forms and include Hot Yoga, Mixed Martial Arts, Gymnastics Strength Training, Boxing and Pilates.

Facilities: (e.g. private showers, steam rooms) - disabled access, ladies only areas, lounge facilities, creche (extra cost), sauna and steam rooms, swimming pool, towel rental (extra cost) and personal training sessions.

Training facilities include functional training equipment, free and pin-loaded weights, Olympic Lifting Platforms and cardio equipment, although the exact array of equipment may vary depending on your club. HYPOXI sessions are available at some clubs, which is based on low intensity movement and healthy eating to encourage your body to burn stubborn fat.

Cons: Very busy at peak times

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man with dumbell

Source: Instagram

3. Jetts

No of gyms: 250

Joining fee: $158

Cost per week of membership: From $14.95 p/w but billed every fortnight.

24 hours: Yes

Classes: No but they do offer group training sessions.

Pros: No lock in contracts - just pay month by month, 24/7 access

Facilities: free parking (varies). Training facilities at most gyms includes cardio equipment, free weights zones, pin loaded equipment, functional training equipment and stretching zones. Some gyms also have suspension equipment and functional training zones.

Cons: No classes, not as busy during peak times due to 24/7 opening


virgin active

Source: Instagram

4. Virgin Active

No of gyms: 6

Joining fee: $0 on 12 month memberships

Cost of membership: From $34.95 p/w. Long term (around 12 months) and flexible membership options are available. Flexible memberships don't lock you in but generally work out more expensive than the long term option.

24 hours: No

Classes: Yes. They include Pilates, BodyPump, cycle classes , yoga, Barre, BodyStep, Bums N Bellies AquaFit and Aqua Zumba. There is a wide range of classes to choose from - over 200, to be exact!

Facilities: Hair dryers, hair straighteners, ironing facilities, cafe/lounge/Internet facilities (varies), pool, spa and sauna facilities, cafe and Wi-Fi access, climbing wall, parking (varies). Gym equipment includes PowerPlate and Kinesis and the gym floor has strength, cardio and functional training zones.

Cons: Quite expensive, busy at peak times, parking not available at all gyms

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plus fit

Source: Instagram

5. Plus Fitness

No of gyms: 180+

Joining fee: $99 and $33.00 for personal access card

Cost of membership: From $13.95 p/w

24 hours: Yes (most locations)

Classes: Yes, mostly of the group variety. Some of the classes are female only. They range from spin classes to boxing and yoga classes.

Facilities: 24 hour access, private restrooms and showers (varies).

Pros: No lock in contracts, free fitness programs, Membership Timehold if you can't get to the gym for a bit

Cons: Equipment can be quite basic according to members


fit playground

Source: Instagram

6. Fitness Playground

No of gyms: 4 (Surry Hills, Newtown, Marrickville, Gateway)

Joining fee: $0

Cost per week of membership: From $16.95 p/w

24 hours: Yes

Classes: Yes - over 200 of them every week! These range from yoga to High Intensity Interval classes and the rather unique CircusFit class. Some of these are group classes.

Facilities: Lockers 24 hour access, showers, lockers, health food cafe (some locations). For training facilities, it ranges from cardio and weight zones and the Olympic Lifting area to their signature Functional Training Zone, complete with fun ways to get stronger and fitter. The MindBody studio offers yoga and CircusFit, which is pretty unique to them!

Pros: Holistic, fun approach to fitness

Cons: Gym can be noisy in some locations

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snap fitness

Source: Instagram

7. Snap Fitness

No of gyms: 200+

Joining fee: $59 (It can vary)

Cost per week of membership: From $14.95 p/w on a month-to-month basis or from $12.95 p/w on a 12 month plan - however this does vary per club based on location.

24 hours: Yes

Classes: Yes, group ones. Training sessions are of the small group variety.

Facilities: Matrix equipment, individual change rooms, plasma televisions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, ladies only amenities, private showers (varies) and car parking (varies). Gym equipment includes a fully equipped weight area including free weights and a pin loaded machines, functional training equipment, an Olympic Lifting Platform, strength training and a relax and stretch area. Matrix equipment is also available, as are outdoor group classes and spin on demand classes.

Cons: Not that many classes


city gym models

Source: Instagram

8. City Gym

No of gyms: 1 (Sydney)

Joining fee: $0

Cost per week of membership: $25 p/w (1 month paid in full) or $22.92 p/w (3 months paid in full). You need to purchase 2 weeks membership at a minimum. You can pay in full for either 1, 3, 6 or 12 month memberships and it's generally cheaper to do this for the longer options.

24 hours: No

Classes: Yes, including group fitness programs and group PT sessions.

Facilities: juice/coffee bar.

Training equipment includes a floor dedicated to weight training, plus cardio equipment and a corporate studio with yoga and a running club.

Pros: No upfront fees

Cons: One location, must purchase at least 2 weeks membership if you take advantage of their Direct Debit offer for new members, lunchtimes can be busy

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fernwood fitness

Source: Instagram

9. Fernwood

No of gyms: 70+

Joining fee: $199 plus an Activation Kit fee (which varies according to your club)

Cost per week of membership: From $22 p/w. A 12 month membership is the most cost effective option but they also offer flexible membership options. These can be different from club to club.

24 hours: Some gyms have 24 hour access

Classes: Yes, often group fitness classes, which vary from club to club. Functional Fit classes involve high intensity interval training and functional movement patterns. Other classes include Pilates, Yoga, Body Attack (high intensity group exercises), Body Balance (combining Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates), Studio Cycle, Zumba, Step, Circuit Training and Miss Military Boot Camp.

Facilities: creche (varies), towel hire, complimentary breakfast, hairdryers, complimentary toiletries, luxurious change rooms. Training facilities include Cardio and Strength Training areas. Other Fernwood services include club specific programs and Food Coaching.

Cons: large joining fee



Opening hours for non-24-hour gyms

  • Fitness First: Monday-Thursday, 5:30am-10:00pm; Friday, 5:30am-9:00pm; Weekend, 6:30am-7:00pm
  • City Gym: Monday-Friday, 5:00am-12:00am; Saturday, 6:00am-10:00pm; Sunday, 8:00am-9:00pm

Staffed hours for 24-hour gyms (varies per club location)

  • Anytime Fitness: Monday-Friday, 10:00am-7:00pm; Saturday, 10:00am-2:00pm
  • Jetts: Monday-Thursday, 10:30am-7:30pm; Friday, 10:30am-4:00pm
  • Virgin Active: Mon-Thur, 5:30am-10:00pm; Friday, 5:30am-9:00pm; Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm; Sunday, 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Plus Fitness: Monday-Thursday, 10:00am-3:30pm; Friday-Saturday, 10:00am-2:00pm
  • Fitness Playground: Monday-Friday, 10:00am-7:00pm; Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm; Sunday, 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Snap Fitness: Monday-Friday, 10:00am-7:00pm; Saturday, 8:00am-12:00pm
  • Fernwood Fitness: Monday-Thursday, 6:00am-9:00pm; Friday, 6:00am-8:00pm; Saturday-Sunday, 8:00am-1:00pm

Top 6 tips before you join a gym

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  • Make sure you check the location of the clubs. If the gym you want to join is closer to your home or work, you're more likely to keep going. There is no point joining a gym that you have to travel an hour to get to, let's be realistic.
  • Think about what you want to get out of the gym. Are you better to attend classes or are you motivated enough to keep going with your own routines? Choose the gym that fits in with what you want to do at the gym.
  • Use the free trials. Don't be scared to walk into a gym and get a 7 day trial. This is going to be the best way for you to find out if the gym offers you what you want. Also trialling a gym out at the time you'd be going is a great way of finding out if the gym is going to be too busy at your preferred times.
  • Read our guide to the best free gym trials: Read article.

  • Make sure you can afford the weekly payments. You don't want to sign yourself into a yearly contract and then find out you can't afford to eat for the rest of the month! No-one wants that. And cancelling your contract can be costly.
  • Freeze your account. If you know you're going away for a few months and won't be using the gym, look into whether they offer the ability to freeze your account. Most gyms will freeze your account for 8 weeks (often reducing the total payment to a few dollars a week, or maybe even zero), but worth checking first.
  • Sign up to a gym in person. Often when you actually sit with someone in a gym, they can offer you a few free personal training sessions or a reduced price. There is no harm in asking. They may even be running a promo that you don't know about.

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