Modern fitness clubs have been through many changes to reach where they are now. The fitness industry is booming, and the rise of boutique fitness has totally reshaped the member experience. No matter what kind of gym or studio someone is walking in to, they expect a premium experience.
There are now thousands of fantastic studios catering to all kinds of fitness niches and audiences. The top fitness clubs value service over everything. They provide the best gym experience for their members during their visit and supply the satisfaction of a good workout while implementing a unique style of their own.
In this article, we’ve curated seven of the most interesting fitness clubs in the world. What some of them are offering will blow you away – whether it’s the awards they’ve claimed, luxe facilities, location, or the extraordinary service they provide. Their group training sessions, amenities, and personal trainers will leave anyone that goes there feeling like they’ve experienced something they can’t anywhere else.
Before we dive in, we’ll take a brief look at the history of gyms to understand how far the industry has evolved. Skip ahead to:
The Evolution of Gyms over the Years
The gym dates back thousands of years. The first of its kind appeared in France and Germany during the 1800s, and the first official fitness center in the United States opened in 1939.
Needless to say, fitness didn’t have the massive cultural following that it has today. In fact, doctors at the time advised against gym usage, claiming that there were dangers attached to lifting weights and vigorous exercise. In spite of this, the concept of the gym caught on, and much of the standard gym equipment we’re familiar with today was invented during this time.
Big-Box Gyms Are Born
Anytime Fitness, La Fitness, Planet Fitness – these names likely ring a bell. They’re some of the best-known big box gym names in the world, and it all began with Gold’s Gym.
In 1965, Joe Gold opened his first gym in Venice, and this was the beginning of big-box gyms as we know them today. Gold’s Gym opened a new window of opportunity for the health and fitness industry and inspired a host of fitness founders to recreate the idea and open their doors to the masses. Gold also went on to recreate his own success, founding the World Gym chain in 1977.
From the 1970s onwards gyms became a regular fixture in most towns and cities across the country. Most were typically low-cost membership gyms. These types of fitness facilities were focused on getting in as many members as possible, especially around busy times of the year. However, there was less focus on long-term retention and less focus on getting results for their members.
Shift to Boutique Gym and Member Experience
In the late 1990s, a new type of fitness experience began to emerge. This was the boutique fitness studio. Instead of going to a gym to workout by yourself or with a personal trainer, you attended a class with other people and were put through your paces by an instructor. The seismic shift from the traditional low-cost gyms to the high-end boutique studio caused those in the industry to rethink what the market actually wants from a fitness facility.
7 of the Most Interesting Fitness Clubs in the World Right Now
Location: Various across America, Canada, and London
A gym membership doesn’t come cheap with this elite brand. Igniting their high-class gym designs in New York and expanding to the likes of London, Equinox takes a spin on your classic group sessions. Barre, yoga, HIIT, and indoor cycling have all undergone a twist to provide gym members with a unique experience that has flooded through the fitness world. It’s not just the workout that will blow members away, as the design of each gym is akin to a large Soho loft that provides ample space and a vast range of gym equipment for you to choose from.
It’s the little things that count, and Equinox knows it. They offer compression therapy and even eucalyptus-infused damp towels for members to freshen up. Should you wish to become a Tier X client, you’ll get a personalized and complete assessment designed to ensure you reach your fitness goals. Catering to its elite target market, Equinox goes the extra mile to offer Skype sessions and “sleep coaching” should you be away on business.
2. Third Space
Location: Various across London.
London is a city known for providing diverse and unique experiences. Its boutique fitness scene is bustling, and there truly is a workout to help everyone reach new fitness goals. One of the stand-out options is Third Space.
It feels more like an elite members club than a gym. With locations spread across London at places like Canary Wharf, London Bridge, and Soho, the brand is clearly targeting the corporate world. With VIP membership options, members can access their own concierge – this service covers everything from private massage chairs to having your gym kit washed. Choose from a range of fitness equipment and classes covering everything from strength training and group exercise to cardio. Expect luxe locker rooms and a 5-star experience throughout your time here. Excellent service is a crucial part of the member experience with this brand; The Third Space aims to offer the comfort that wouldn’t feel out of place in a 5-star hotel.
Currently, two of the brands’ fitness studios have a spa with options, including massage, rehabilitation, and beauty treatments. The luxurious list goes on and on with this elite chain of fitness clubs – the brand even runs its own fitness retreat in Mexico.
Everything is big in Texas, and the Houstonian holds true to that notion, taking up a massive 27 acres, this impressive facility takes luxury gyms to the next level. Hosting over 300 state-of-the-art fitness machines, 240 group classes, private dieticians, a 50,000 square foot tennis facility, and private changing where you can have your laundry done. No expense has been spared in providing the most sublime, modern, and luxurious athletic club that feels more like a fitness amusement park than a gym.
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The impressive facility has restaurants, pools, and a range of classes, boxing, yoga, and cycling classes, as well as over 35 trainers all ready at your beck and call. The Houstonian not only offers the ideal facilities for professional athletes but amenities to satisfy just about anyone, from cardio equipment or classes like yoga to free weights. As this gym is part of a 5-star hotel facility, the location and amenities are as lavish as a gym can get.
4. Das Gym
You know it’s serious when there’s a chin-up bar in the shower. Take your training to a whole new level and put yourself through the paces with a killer workout at this bodybuilding gym. Based in Vienna, Das Gym has become a mecca of the industry there with an expansive multi-floor behemoth that would make any bodybuilder smile from ear to ear. They have all the free weights you can think of; it’s brimming with pull up bars, has an all-encompassing sound system, and even an old school TV set where you can play Mario Kart next to a life-sized Terminator robot.
It’s not a gym that tries to cater to everyone, they know their target audience and made the gym a dreamland for them by adding everything one can imagine, turning this power-focused gym into a world-class one. If you’re a fitness addict and in the region, then Das Gym is worth a visit because you will find everything you need in what is essentially an old school gym enthusiast fantasy come true.
5th Element exceeds your typical member experience. Winner of Australia’s Best Health Club 2019, the studio’s group fitness classes focuses on community. They host events like a community ice bath, wellness seminars, provide an infrared detox sauna, offer active release therapy, and members can access an organic coffee and juice bar. This helps make 5th Element the perfect workout spot for your online nomad looking to burn some calories and make friends or locals who want to have a home away from home.
It doesn’t stop there though, with group classes that focus on yoga and community inspired fitness sessions where members train outdoors in what are ultimately fun exercises that unite them, instead of leaning towards a competitive class format. The studio creators decided to focus on “fun and togetherness,” with a healthier life becoming a result of it. It’s because of this they’ve become one of the most friendly and enjoyable gyms in the world.
6. The Burrow
“The Burrow is not a gym, it’s a lifestyle”
A sentiment seems to hold true just by looking at the design, level of equipment and high-quality staff they have on the premises. Based in Kuwait, the focus is one Muay Thai which is a form of martial art that is extremely popular in the region. The Burrow offers students the chance to get an authentic taste of the ancient practice, with multiple professionals among their ranks.
The aesthetic of the gym is divided to drive focus on each aspect of the practice. Areas are designated, with a boxing ring in the middle and a centerpiece that oozes style, strength, and purpose.
Zenergy boasts luxe amenities, including a 25-meter heated salt-water pool (both in and outdoor) and a hot tub overlooking the serene landscape.
Choose from over 85 group fitness classes a week including sports conditioning, pilates and cycling, or push yourself to the max at Zenergy’s exclusive fitness retreat.
Members looking for one-on-one training won’t be disappointed either – take part in the brands’ Pivot Training with personalized coaching in a functional movement class.
In the end, the difference between a standard gym and one of the world’s best is their identity. Their ability to revolutionize in a way that stamps their mark on the surrounding area or even the world.
They take an idea and turn it into a success, creating intrigue, offering an atmosphere that members won’t find anywhere else. What matters most is the impact they leave.
The seven gyms above are prime examples of how far gyms have evolved, and we’re excited to see where the fitness industry will go next.