BY DANIEL GOMEZ
Now, even though here at On the Glow we promote a savvy fitness lifestyle, we’re aware that saving money all the time isn’t a practical option for working professionals who prefer to go the gym instead of exercising outdoors, or people who enjoy buying smoothies instead of recreating them at home with grocery store items. That’s why for this post I am going to review and rate some of the most popular gyms in DC, places where you can maximize your spending dollars and find the workout that works best for you.
For the sake of this post, I won’t be reviewing boutique gyms (CrossFit, cycling, yoga studios, etc.), just those that offer monthly memberships and have become part of the lifestyle of many Washingtonians: Washington Sports Clubs, VIDA Fitness, and Balance Gym. I will break down what each gym offers, assess their accessibility, outline their pros and cons, and determine which is the best based on their value.
Balance. It’s a word you hear a lot on Capitol Hill. It does not all have to do with balancing budgets as much as it has to do with Balance Gym, the workout place of many congressional staffers and DC residents. Balance has been consistently rated DC’s top gym because of its numerous classes, convenient locations, and community-like atmosphere, and we find no reason to disagree with others’ assessment.
Hours: Weekdays 6:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m., Weekends 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Locations: Four: Thomas Circle, Glover Park, Foggy Bottom, and Capitol Hill.
Amenities: Crossfit, Pilates, Dance Trance, and Physical Therapy (one of the only gyms in DC with in-house physical therapy services)
Offers memberships ranging from: $64- $89 per month
Pros: Reasonable pricing, great locations, Zumba, barre, and Piloxing (Pilates-boxing-dancing combo), high customer satisfaction
Cons: Only four locations, can get overcrowded
Balance is DC’s best gym for a variety of reasons, and at the end of the day it all comes down to customer satisfaction. How many gyms do you know with a weekly barbell club where its members routinely schedule happy hour together? Or a gym that offers a slew of classes in yoga, pilates, Crossfit, barre, and Zumba, and is also reasonably priced per month? Balance just proves how committed Washingtonians are to fitness, and how much they’re willing to throw down to get the most bang for their buck.
While I have heard mixed reviews about VIDA, I tend to meet more satisfied than dissatisfied members from the popular gym. Memberships don’t come cheap here, but you won’t hear a lot of complaints from members in a gym that offers candlelight yoga, scenic ride cycling, kaishido kickboxing, and an hour-long boot camp program. The Yards location looks like something out of a Ridley Scott movie, and the intensity and liveliness of group classes are enough to keep anyone from leaving.
Hours: Weekdays 5:00 a.m. – 11 p.m., Weekends 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Locations: Six: City Vista, Metropole, Renaissance Hotel, U Street, Verizon, The Yards
Amenities: Studios, Aura Spa, Smoothie Bar, pool, quality weights and machines
Offers memberships ranging from: $70- $129 per month
Pros: Top-notch amenities, highly rated group classes, current members receive discounts at several businesses in D.C., including Bike Rack DC, Chop’t, and U Street Music Hall.
Cons: Pricey memberships, can get crowded
Although VIDA is one of the pricier gyms in DC, many of its members love everything it has to offer. Many young professionals frequent the gym’s six locations and remain extremely loyal to the brand VIDA’s built in DC. If you can afford $70 a month and are serious about getting a good workout 4 to 5 days a week, this gym will definitely be one of your better options.
Washington Sports Clubs
When I first moved to D.C., I did not have the luxury of weighing the benefits between a $70/month or a $250/month gym membership. I did what most people do; I explored nearby gyms and found the one that was not too fancy, not too expensive, and allowed me to get a good workout every day. The winner was Washington Sports Clubs, a neighborhood gym with several locations in DC.
Hours: Weekdays 5:00 a.m. – 11 p.m., Weekends (Varies, usually 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.)
Locations: Seven, including Columbia Heights, Downtown, Dupont Circle, F Street, Gallery Place, Georgetown, Glover Park
Amenities: Sauna, Spinning Studio, 24/7 Personal Trainers (with fee), Pool (depends on the location), 59 different types of classes
Offers memberships ranging from: $29.99- $69.99 per month
Pros: Multiple locations, easy accessible, friendly environment, reasonable pricing.
Cons: Not fully loaded like other gyms, some locations lack enough space, staff-friendliness varies from gym to gym.
WSC is one of the more reasonably priced gyms in DC. It has the essentials, but not some of the fancier stuff you might see at VIDA or Balance. Its multiple locations and numerous classes make it extremely accessible. And although the club is not universally loved by Washingtonians, it is still a great option for anyone who wants to save a few extra bucks on a monthly membership.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree with my grades? What are your favorite gyms in DC and why? Leave your comments down below.