Health & Fitness

How to Find the Right Gym

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.” -Elle Woods from Legally Blonde

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the choices of gyms that send you flyers, advertise on TV, or take up ad space while you are searching the web? Or maybe you feel underwhelmed by your options; never really feeling like there is the perfect place for you. Today I want to talk about how to find the right gym for you.

I was never really a gym kind of person. I loved to dance and that kept me in shape for as long as I can remember. But adult dance classes are few and far between and they definitely do not offer child care while you take a class (mom struggle). I found that I actually do like working out (outside of the dance room). There is something about getting a good sweat on during a boot camp class that makes you feel a bit happier with yourself. Although as a stay at home mom of two little ones I often find myself feeling guilty for taking time just for myself. But in the end I think I’m an even better mom when I do take even just an hour a week.

Here are my suggestions of what you should do before you commit to a gym (or any kind of work out facility):

1) Go get a pass. Most gyms or studios offer at least a free class or a 1-7 day pass.

2) Take a Class. Don’t just go look around at the cardio machines and weights (unless that is all you like to do). Go and take a few classes to make sure you like the instructors and the options. Plus make sure there are times that work for your schedule.

3) Bring your kids. Make sure if you are planning on bringing your kids to the Kids Club that you go and have them experience it to get an idea of what it is like.

4) Weigh your options. After going to AT LEAST 3 different places compare and contrast price, hours of operation (are they open when you typically work out), class options, kids clubs/family friendly and overall feel.

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How to Find the Right Gym

Now here is my complete review of the gyms/studios that I went to during my recent search. Some are nation wide and others are Orange County based. But I think there is something to be learned from all of them. I had been a member of 24 Hour Fitness for years, but was no longer happy there, which is the reason I began my search.

  • Orange Theory: A workout based completely on keeping your heart rate in the “orange zone” or how I like to think of it the “I’m sweating, out of breath, but I’m not dying” zone. They give you a heart rate monitor to wear during the work out and you are to check the screens constantly through the work out to make sure you are, most of the time, staying in your orange zone. There is one instructor that leads you through 30 minutes of cardio (treadmill & row machine) and then 30 minutes of weights and body resistance type exercises. Without a doubt it was a great work out, BUT there were a few things I wasn’t so excited about. For instance, only having a treadmill and row machine for cardio is not my cup of tea. They also have no kids club, so I would only be able to work out on days that the hubby could stay home to watch them. Plus, it was pretty expensive compared to my 24 hour membership. So I kept searching…
  • Purre Barre: By far, through all my research this was the BEST class I took! It was incredible! I haven’t been so sore since I last took a serious dance class. Now, this is not a dance class, but it does have similarities to pilates/ballet type movements. Even though there is only a small ball, 2 lb weights, a resistance band and a barre, do not let that deceive you into thinking you won’t get a great work out. The teacher was amazing and she stuck with you the entire class encouraging and pushing you thought the difficult exercises. Because it is low impact this class is super good for anyone with injuries. They only downfall for me as a mom is that, once again, there is no where for the kids to go while I work out. Price wise, you could find deals on Groupon or they have different class passes that seemed reasonable to me for the type of instruction you are getting. How to Find the Right GymBut I kept searching…
  • Total Woman Gym & Spa: My neighbor had suggested this one to me so I thought I would give it a try. This was a very nice gym, clean and updated. The classes were decent (although I tried taking a barre class here and it was nothing in comparison to Pure Barre). There was a spa attached so you could even get a membership that included a spa treatment every month. The cliental seemed a bit older, which was fine, but I found myself not pushing as hard as I normally do. The kids area was nice, but I still wasn’t doing backflips over it. So…I kept looking…

After my experiences at the first three locations I realized something about what I really desired not only for myself, but for my husband and for our kids. I wanted to not just go work out on my own, I wanted the hubby to come with me, which meant we really needed to find a family friendly place that was great with kids. Not just a place where we could work out, but a place that had things for the kids to do and an atmosphere where we could all do something together. Which led me to the next place on my mom’s fitness quest…

  • YMCA: It is funny to me that I had never tried this before because we go to the Y all the time for the park, walking trails and other activities. This time I went in to try out the gym. There are two near us which is super convenient (one 10 minutes and the other about 15 minutes). The facility is very nice, clean and the second I walked in the people at the front desk were all smiles and it felt very family friendly. I immediately saw lots of parents walking in with kids, taking them to the Kids Zone and others were taking their kids to different classes offered through the Y. During my 7 day pass I took a couple classes (at both locations), checked out the different work out rooms, cycle rooms, yoga rooms, pools, etc…I was impressed. As far as the Kids Club goes, the location closest to us had an outdoor area with a sand box, small slide, push cars and other outside activities, which is was a huge bonus for our kids. There were craft tables set up and employees were sitting down and working with the children.  As far as price, for both my husband and I to work out, plus the Kids Zone and all the other benefits the Y has to offer the amount is very reasonable (85 per month for a family of 4). I had only one more stop on my mom’s fitness quest before making the decision…How to Find the Right Gym
  • Renaissance Clubsport: I had heard about this from a girlfriend of mine and rumor on the street was that this place was amazing. Not only is it a gym, but it is a full spa and hotel as well. From the moment I walked in I could tell this place might be out of our league. The incredible work out rooms, the beautiful pools (& water slides for the kids), the sauna’s, hot tubs, even the locker rooms were luxurious. I took some classes (because if you can’t tell this mama doesn’t really love just running on a treadmill) and decided to bring the kids in to the Kids Club. It was beautiful. Murals on the walls, toys, outside playground, it all seemed a bit too good to be true. I quickly learned that our son would be in one group of kids and our daughter in another (which I understand is normal, but was hoping they could be together). Kids also had to be 2.5 to be able to go outside to play on the equipment, big bummer for our little girl who loves to be outside. After trying the Kids Club twice, even though it was so lovely, both kids did not seem to be as happy here. I also think that even though the facility was so incredible, I began wondering if I would even be able to really enjoy everything they had to offer at this time in my life. You are definitely paying a higher price to belong here, but it is obviously because of all the amenities they are providing. But I just could not imagine myself sitting in the sauna or lounging in the hot tub while my kids were in the Kids Club (not together). Maybe when they are both in school we might consider this an option again, but for now, it just isn’t for us…

So, if you couldn’t tell already, we are the proud members of the YMCA (if you decide to join as well, don’t forget to tell them I sent you)! I hope this may help you to find the right gym and inspires you to look into the options you have for fitness, fitness that may just include your entire family. A family that plays together, stays together!

How To Find the Right Gym


This article has 11 comments

  1. Nicole

    I can so relate to this before we had kiddos my hubby and I loved to workout together and then when we had kiddos we could no longer do this. I’m giving you kudos for finding a place like the Y that’s awesome that you are all happy as a family 🙂
    xo, Nicole

    • Jenny

      Thanks for your encouragement. We went back recently and the kids didn’t do as well, but we are going to keep trying.

  2. Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side

    So funny I just did a post on Saturday about working out with kids. 🙂 Yay for picking, so glad that your littles did well with drop off, both of my kids had a rough time and it took months before they wouldn’t cry when I left…finally this past month has been awesome! It’s so nice knowing when I go to the gym that they aren’t going to cry when I drop them off.

    • Jenny

      Good for you for keeping at it! Its funny, we went back recently and the both kids had a meltdown, I guess we aren’t as settled in as I thought. But we will keep trying because it is important to us.

    • Jenny

      Great minds think alike!;) Well, we actually went back recently and they didn’t do so well, but I am not going to give up! Glad you found something that worked!!

  3. stephanie

    Love your post! Will definitely check out! Thanks, Jenny!

  4. Meghan

    I enjoyed the Y when I was a member, and I think it will have to be an option again now that I have a baby. But I really do love Pure Barre classes too. They’re just so expensive. What I really want to get back to is running. I’m waiting to know it’s okay to take my girl out in the running stroller.

    • Jenny

      You should look into stroller strides if you are looking for a workout to do with your baby!:)

  5. Erika Rodriguez

    Nice! I used to workout at total women
    Fitness in Placentia while preparing for my wedding. I had the spa package it was amazing. Now I go to 24 Hour fitness. When I lived in downtown LA I went to the Y. They had dodgeball tournaments! It was a blast!

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