to workout in an effort to manage my weight and stay healthy with a few breaks that I now regret. I have used a variety of types of fitness centers and overall, as of today I prefer the YMCA to the rest of them.
Over the years I have used:
1. Regular Private Membership Co-Ed Fitness Centers - these are privately owned and operated, and as such have various rules based on the values of the owners. For the most part, women and men can dress in anything to workout - many times this means short shorts where a woman's butt cheeks are visible, sports bras with bare coverage, muscle shirts that leave nothing to the imagination on a man's body, and well, you get the picture. Also, bad language may or may not be allowed depending on the owner's feelings on such. Trust me, it's hard to concentrate on a good workout with all the temptation around you. (As with other facilities, there are "exceptional" exceptions.)
2. Franchise Co-Ed Fitness Centers - a little better, at least they "try" to have and "attempt" to enforce rules on dress, behavior, and language. The problem is they don't do a good job as they don't want to lose paying customers. So, you will still be faced with the various levels of "nudity", "obscene" language, and bad behavior. (As with other facilities, there are "exceptional" exceptions.)
3. Franchise Women Only Fitness Centers These are almost a thing of the past. I have belonged to a few of these over the years (Lady Fitness, Curves, etc.) and found them to be a good choice for me for the most part. The majority of women at these centers are serious about their workouts and not there to attract attention to themselves or find a "date". It's motivating to workout with other women serious about their workouts. The cost was also quite reasonable compared to franchise or private membership co-ed fitness centers. However, with a few exceptions the women's only fitness center (gym) is disappearing.
4 YMCA - The YMCA at one time was segregated (when I first attended one): men had the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) and women had the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association). Slowly the YMCA emerged as a co-ed Christian Fitness Center focused on physical, mental, and spiritual fitness of men and women alike.
While it was morphing into the present day co-ed fitness center, it went through a rough time. Membership dropped drastically as people were joining private and franchise gyms. The YMCA became known as the low-end fitness center and struggled to gain members. Fees went up in an effort to stay afloat.
Today (at least the ones I have used) the YMCA is booming. Membership is growing, cost is very reasonable, equipment is excellent, they have knowledgeable staff (and friendly), and a code of conduct in place. I never hear bad language, men and women are required to wear appropriate exercise clothing that covers private parts of the body (both male and female), facilities are clean, and they are fun.
I love my YMCA. There are three in my area that I go to depending on where my daily errands take me and the weather. (Some have indoor walking tracks, some don't). I can go and relax while I workout hard. Almost all of them have swimming pools, saunas (wet and dry), hot whirlpools, free lockers, and racket ball courts. They also provide (at least mine do) a "personal coach" for six weeks to work with you one-on-one and then for four weeks at a time as needed in the future. All for free!
I prefer the YMCA over other fitness centers because I am serious about my workouts. It's hard to concentrate when faced with young (and old, too) women and men with butts, breasts, and bare stomachs hanging out in an attempt to attract the attention of the opposite sex. I also appreciate that I never hear cussing, vulgar, or aggressive language.
This is my own preference, if it is also yours then I suggest checking out your local YMCA. If it is not to your liking, try one at another location.
In some cases, your health insurance may pay for your membership fees to a fitness center. In my state the "Silver Sneakers" program works with insurance companies and as a result, many seniors (age 60 plus) go to the YMCA for free.
It's worth checking out!
Do you workout at home or do you also workout at a fitness center? If you workout at a fitness center, do you use a private, franchise, women's only, or a YMCA? Why do you workout where you do? What is the most important thing to you when choosing a fitness center?