The Ultimate Gym Chain Comparison January 2020: 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.

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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
Goodlife Health Clubs 85 $99 From $17.99 p/w Some Yes Full review
Anytime Fitness 3,200+ $99 $16.98 p/w Yes Yes Full review
Fitness First 62 $99 $37 p/w No Yes Full review
Jetts 250+ $79 (for fob) + $89 joining fee $14.95 p/w Yes Yes Full review
Virgin Active 6 $0 on a 12-month contract $45 p/w No Yes Full review
Plus Fitness 200+ $99 $13.95 p/w Yes Yes Full review
Fitness Playground 4 $99 from $16.95 p/w Yes Yes Full review
Snap Fitness 200+ $59 (It can vary) from $12.95 p/w Yes Yes Full review
City Gym 1 (Sydney) $0 from $27.95 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.


Picture not describedSource: Instagram

1. Goodlife Health clubs

No of gyms: 85

Joining fee: $99 plus an Activation Kit fee (which varies according to your club)

Cost per week of membership: From $17.99 p/w. A 12-month membership is the most popular membership option but they also offer month-to-month and 18-month options. These can be different from club to club.

24 hours: 75% of Goodlife gyms have 24-hour access

Classes: Yes, there are group fitness classes which vary from each individual gym. The fitseries classes involve high-intensity strength and interval training to level-up your fitness levels. Other classes include Pilates, Barre, Yoga (also, hot yoga), T25, Body pump, Boxing, Zumba, Cycle, Dance and Tai chi.

Facilities: Basic facilities are available for all, including strength and cardio equipment for group and personal training sessions. There are also specific facilities only available at Goodlife such as the 'Emily Skye Ignite' workout class, classes for kids and 'Mum and Bubs'. Selected clubs also have child minding areas and 24/hr access.

Cons: No Goodlife gyms in NSW

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anytime fitness

Source: Instagram

2. Anytime Fitness

No of gyms: 3200+

Joining fee: $99 and $69.95 for an 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

3. Fitness First

No of gyms: 62

Joining fee: $99 (varies)

Cost of membership? $37 per fortnight (3-month contract) or from $29 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 a 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

4. Jetts

No of gyms: 250

Joining fee: $89

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

24 hours: Yes

Classes: Most Jetts now offer JSeries high intensity classes, otherwise the gym offers its own variety of classes.

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

Facilities: free parking (varies). Training facilities at most gyms include 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: Not as busy during peak times due to 24/7 opening


virgin active

Source: Instagram

5. Virgin Active

No of gyms: 6

Joining fee: $0 on 12-month memberships

Cost of membership: From $45 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: Hairdryers, hair straighteners, ironing facilities, cafe/lounge/Internet facilities (varies), pool, spa and sauna facilities, cafe and Wi-Fi access, wall climbing, 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

6. Plus Fitness

No of gyms: 200+

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

7. Fitness Playground

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

Joining fee: $99

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 Circus Fit, 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

8. Snap Fitness

No of gyms: 200+

Joining fee: $59 (It can vary)

Cost per week of membership: From $12.95 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, hairdryers, hair straighteners, ladies only amenities, private showers (varies) and car parking (varies). Gym equipment includes a fully equipped weight area including free weights and 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

9. City Gym

No of gyms: 1 (Sydney)

Joining fee: $0

Cost per week of membership: $27.95 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

10. 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

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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
  • Goodlife Health Clubs: Monday-Friday, 5:30am-8:00pm; Saturday, 7:00am-2:00pm; Sunday, 8:30am-1:30pm

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 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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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    KyleJanuary 26, 2019

    Hi I’m trying to find a gym in the Beenleigh area that has a low monthly membership no higher than $20 and low to no joining fees?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJanuary 27, 2019Staff

      Hi Kyle,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      On this page you’re looking, as of this writing, there are 3 gyms at no joining fee.

      With Virgin Active, it is at $0 joining fee is you sign a 12-month contract while Fitness Playground and City Gym both have no joining fee. I’m afraid that both of them are not available in Beenleigh. I suggest that you scout in the said area to find a fitness centre that suits your needs most.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  2. Default Gravatar
    GrantApril 6, 2018

    I am with Fitness Playground at Surry Hills but I only pay $16 or so a week?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      NikkiApril 6, 2018Staff

      Hi Grant,

      Thanks for your message and for visiting finder – the leading comparison website & general information service built to give you advice in your buying decision needs. How are you doing today?

      The $16.95 / week is a starting rate given by Fitness Playground. Just the same, we’ll contact the branch and update this page accordingly.

      Please note that we’re a product comparison website and we hold no affiliation with any company we feature on our site. We provide general information on products to assist you in your buying decision process hence we cannot recommend product / service that is rightfully fit for you.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Nikki

    • Default Gravatar
      GrantApril 6, 2018

      Great Thank you for the follow up Nikki,
      I have had my membership for about 6 months I am actually here now and showed this to my club manager and they wanted to know how they could contact you to provide their pricing? Because they don’t believe any member is paying more than $20 something accessing all classes.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoanneApril 6, 2018Staff

      Hi Grant,

      Thank you for visiting finder, we are a financial comparison website and general information service.
      A representative from the Fitness Playground may contact us directly on our pages via chat or email so we can forward their details to our client services team. We do appreciate the feedback and thank you for reaching out.

      Cheers,
      Joanne

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