Stay in Shape: Your Guide to Working Out in Boston

by Rachel Zavala

Your Guide to Working Out in Boston

Amid the multitude of activities, seminars, and classes heavily lobbying for Friedman students’ time and attention, many manage to carve out precious gym time. The greater Boston area is teeming with gyms that cater to different fitness desires and price ranges, which are profiled below to help students choose the best fit for their workout goals.

The Health Science Campus Gym: Students now have the option of working out at the new gym in the basement of Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, located across the street from the Friedman School. Though the gym is small and cardio and strength training equipment are limited, students enjoy the facility for its quick accessibility between classes and large, flat-screen TVs above the cardio equipment. The gym also offers yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and abs classes for a small fee.

Healthworks Fitness Centers for Women: If you are looking for an upscale, women-only gym facility, Healthworks is a solid option. With five facilities in the greater Boston area, this gym chain boasts more than 100 group exercises classes each week. Besides the typical spinning, yoga, and Pilates classes, Healthworks also offers belly dancing, ballet, and BOSU. The cardio center is equipped with mini TVs on most cardio machines, and the locker room features a whirlpool, sauna, and eucalyptus steam room. However, such nice amenities come with a robust price tag, which typically range from $80 to $100 a month, according to some members. The gym charges extra for towel service and locker usage, and features personal training package deals when you first sign-up. Healthworks does charge initiation fees, however it typically runs promotional deals where students can nab reduced or eliminated fees.

According to Kelly, a membership consultant at Healthworks Cambridge facility (who wished to have her last name withheld), “The variety of classes, how clean our facility is, and the staff make [Healthworks] better” than other gyms with cheaper monthly fees. Though members praise the uber-clean facilities and new equipment, one commonly cited “con” is that classes fill-up quickly, forcing people to arrive up to 20 minutes early to grab a spot.

Most Healthworks locations also feature cafés, babysitting, and spa amenities. For more information, contact Healthworks Back Bay, 617-859-7700. Facilities are generally opened 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. on weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

Planet Fitness: The cheapest gym option in town, Planet Fitness proudly declares itself the “Judgment Free Zone®,” a branded philosophy that seeks to make members of all shapes feel comfortable working out. Each club features an alarm that members can ring if they feel others are trying to show-off, further emphasizing the Judgment Free Zone® mentality projected by Planet Fitness. This no-frills gym features cardio and strength training equipment and a locker room- and that’s it. The club lacks group fitness classes, which is the reflected in the cheap monthly membership fee that starts at just $10.

“It’s so cheap and convenient,” says Renee Reynolds, a 1st year dietetic intern at Frances Stern, who joined the Cambridge location upon moving to Boston. She took advantage of a $99 promotional deal for membership for an entire year, and says she is pleased with the clean locker room facilities and friendly staff. She also received two free personal training sessions upon joining, and says that twice a month the staff brings in bagels and coffee in the morning and pizza at night for members.

“It would be nice if they offered classes, but it’s so inexpensive, I can give that up for the price of $99 a year,” says Reynolds.

Personal training services are offered for a fee. For more information, contact Planet Fitness Cambridge at 617-499-9944. Locations generally opened from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

Boston Sports Club: The largest gym chain in Boston, BSC features a variety of group fitness classes, strength and cardio equipment, and fitness programs to appeal to gym-goers of all fitness levels. BSC is unique in that it offers a variety of programs to help members train for triathlons, improve boxing techniques, and learn the Pilates reformer machine. The size and atmosphere of BSCs vary among each club, but most have friendly staff, clean locker facilities, and steam room and sauna. Most cardio machines come equipped with mini TVs, and some locations include a pool.

Prices typically start at $70 a month, and towels and lockers are included in the membership fee. BSC does have initiation fees, but students should ask about special promotions. BSC is known for offering lots of package deals for membership, personal training, and small-group training.

As a member of BSC-South End, I have never been disappointed in a group exercise class, and find the locker rooms clean and spacious. Though BSC may not offer novel classes or have swanky shampoos like Healthworks, it suites my fitness needs.

For more information, contact BSC-South End 617-482-1266. Most clubs are open 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

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