Compare gym and fitness club chains Anytime Fitness, Fernwood, Fitness First, F45, Goodlife, Jetts, Plus Fitness, Snap Fitness and YMCA on equipment & facilities, staff availability, flexibility & perks, atmosphere, value for money and overall member satisfaction.
Choosing a gym can almost be as much of a challenge as actually going to the gym, with the fitness industry exploding over recent years, giving way to gyms and fitness centres seemingly on every corner. With so many now available, gyms have had to diversify their services in order to stand out, with some sticking to the traditional Schwarzenegger-era setup, while others stock the latest pieces of equipment to entice people through the door.
With 64% of survey respondents stating they have tried more than one gym chain, and 16% indicating that they have multiple gym memberships, it’s clear that choosing a gym isn’t an easy decision to make. With factors such as price, location, 24-hour access capabilities, what equipment the gym has, as well as staff friendliness and expertise, the gym has become much more than simply a place to ‘pump iron’.
The change in the fitness industry is apparent, with a new chain climbing to the top of our annual ratings – F45. With franchise giants Fernwood and Jetts alternating the top spot for the past six years, F45 faces tough competition, but its new class-based, group fitness approach is clearly resonating with consumers.
This year more than 1,200 gym-goers took part in our review:
It seems that Aussie gym-goers are looking for a little more than just a place to lift weights and run on a treadmill, but we’re also conscious of the price we pay for our membership – $73 per month on average, the survey found. If you’re thinking about joining a gym for the first time, or perhaps returning after a lengthy break, consider exactly what you want to get for your money. To help you decide which gym will be the best bet, here is an overview of the nine chains in our 2018 review.
The new kid on the block, F45 has taken Australia by storm in the last year, with hundreds of studios opening up around the country. Based on daily High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) programs, F45 has taken out top spot in our review, with customers rating it five stars for overall satisfaction, atmosphere, staff availability and equipment & facilities.
But despite the top result, F45 may not be for everyone. F45 is structured around daily classes, so those looking for a 24-hour gym, or just looking to get a quick workout in, might have to find a different gym. F45 is also not the cheapest gym around, with membership costing around $66 per week, which explains the three stars on value for money.
For those unfazed about the cost, F45 won’t struggle to keep you interested, with almost 30 different workout styles available, including functional strength, agility classes, boxing, and partner workouts. It may be a bit daunting for those new to the gym, but with some workouts boasting a 1000 calorie burn, it may be worth looking into it. The regulars certainly like it.
The sole female-only gym in our review, Fernwood has been a top contender over the past six years, including top spot for three of those years. This year, it rates four stars overall, but still performed very well with regards to atmosphere, staff availability and equipment & facilities, scoring five stars in each area.
Providing a wide range of classes, free services such as breakfast, as well as childcare facilities at some venues, Fernwood aims to offer an experience that goes well beyond breaking a sweat. Complimentary toiletries, beautician therapists, massages and tanning facilities are some of the extra perks available, depending on which studio you visit.
When you become a member, you’ll receive a 28-day plan, as well as a meeting with a fitness coach to set your goals and give you the tips you need to get started. A $199 sign up fee is standard across most studios, with membership around $20 a week. While not the only all-female gym available, Fernwood is arguably the most recognisable, with 70 locations open across Australia.
A consistent performer over the years, Goodlife has upped the intensity this time, achieving four stars in every category, an indicator that it may be a good fit for you, regardless of your fitness goals.
Offering a large variety of classes and challenges, Goodlife strongly promotes a friendly environment for you to work out in. Classes include the likes of traditional spin classes and boot camps, as well as dance based classes such as Zumba, plus classes for mums and bubs.
Price-wise, Goodlife memberships start from $13.95, with four types of plans available, although costs vary from location to location. All gyms incur a $99 sign-up fee, as well as a $19 fee for those after the 24-hour pass. Goodlife also offers an app, available on both IOS and Android, to help with your fitness program. Compatible with other fitness apps such as MyFitnessPal, FitBit and MapMyRun, the app will keep you on track with classes, with a timetable that can be programmed to your local gym’s schedule, meaning you’ll never miss a class, and you’ll never forget what to bring.
Bringing fitness to an international scale, Snap Fitness gives users the added benefit of being able to use its membership at more than 2,000 gyms across the globe. The only gym to score five stars for value for money and flexibility & perks, Snap Fitness looks to have reason to be a global success. It achieved four stars in all other research categories.
Marketed as a “no frills gym”, Snap Fitness can often be found in compact areas, offering the essentials without many of the extras. Personal trainers and fitness classes are the main drawcards, although you’ll have to check with your local gym as the classes aren’t always regularly on offer.
Similar to other gym franchises, Snap Fitness offers an app, which can be paired with the My Zone belt, which logs your heart rate, calories burned and other readings, sending the results to your app to track your progress. The My Zone belt is only available at certain locations however, with prices not publicly listed, meaning you’ll have to get in contact with your local gym if you’re interested.
Built around 24-hour fitness, Anytime Fitness is one of the largest gym franchises in Australia, with close to 500 gyms available nationally. However, it seems that gym-goers want a little bit more than just an open door at 2am, rating the chain three stars in most areas this year.
Most studios offer classes, personal training sessions and personalised programs, but extras will depend on the individual facility, and the time of day, of course. Prices also vary, as each gym is independently owned, but all have an initial $99 joining fee, as well as a fee for the after-hours access card. The access card will gain you access to any of the gyms worldwide, after a 30-day waiting period.
Contracts are available on a 12 or 18-month basis, with a 7-day free trial available for those who aren’t sure about signing up straightaway. Anytime Fitness has also partnered with nutrition service ENE-CHI for meal prep and meal plans, helping customers get the most out of their fitness journey.
First starting out as a squash club in England before switching focus, Fitness First has expanded into 16 countries, with hundreds of gyms now open around the world. Scoring four stars for atmosphere, staff availability and equipment & facilities, Fitness First has become a staple in the local fitness industry.
Fitness First offers a Platinum and Passport membership, allowing users to access the majority of its 70 national gyms, with the company also offering exclusive memberships for some Sydney gyms, which will cost you extra. Some locations will also offer student discounts, but you’ll have to visit a gym to find out.
The majority of Fitness First gyms offer a huge range of classes, covering all muscle groups and fitness abilities, with the franchise also offering a mobile app to keep you on your toes, as well as make sure you’re on time for classes. Despite the variety, Fitness First was rated three stars overall, as well as three stars for value for money and flexibility & perks.
Starting on the Gold Coast in 2007, Jetts has expanded globally to have more than 250 gyms available for fitness enthusiasts. While it may not offer all the bells and whistles that other franchises will include, Jetts seems to get the basics right, with four stars for value for money and flexibility & perks. However, it scored three stars in most other areas.
Jetts’ main selling point is a no lock-in contract, allowing users full 24-hour access to all gyms worldwide, without worrying about the commitment. Members can cancel their membership with no notice period or cancellation fees, something not always guaranteed in the fitness industry.
Memberships start at $14.95 per week, with free trials and discounts also available at certain locations. If you’re looking to sign up with someone, Jetts also offers ‘mate’s rates’, providing a discount to those who sign up with a friend, although you’ll have to visit a gym to find out how much of a discount is really available, with no information listed online.
Australian-owned Plus Fitness has been in operation for around 20 years, with 200 gyms currently open around the country. Built around convenience and giving members a no-nonsense approach to fitness, Plus Fitness may be an option for those looking for something easy to get into.
With no-lock in contracts, as well as the option to put your membership on hold for up to three months at no extra cost, Plus Fitness was rated four stars for value for money, as well as flexibility & perks. But it scored just three stars in all other areas. Membership costs will vary from location to location, with 24-hour access also dependent on location.
Plus Fitness also gives users the option of interactive workouts, allowing for a session without the class or instructor. Via a TV, members can follow a variety of workouts, including yoga and boxing, as well as general boot camp style sessions. All users have to do is book out a room, set the workout and prepare to sweat. Plus Fitness also offers ‘master classes’, which are sessions run by personal trainers.
The YMCA has been a cornerstone of sports and fitness for years, with plenty of options available for social sports, after school care and gymnastics. Building upon that, the YMCA has been offering gym and fitness services for the past few years now, giving people another option if they’re not comfortable with the bigger gym franchises.
While it only scored three stars overall, as well as three stars in the flexibility & perks and equipment & facilities categories, YMCA did record four stars for value for money, atmosphere and staff availability, meaning it may be a viable gym in its own right, despite being a community centre first, gym second.
Offering a wide range of classes, including full body workouts, yoga and pilates, as well as dance class Zumba, YMCA does more than just the basics. Prices are not available online, so you’ll have to contact your local centre to figure out the costs, although YMCA does offer off-peak and concessions discounts.
Going to the gym can be a quite personal experience, as everyone goes for different reasons, whether it’s to lose weight, build muscle or even just for the social aspect. As a result, the gym should make you feel comfortable enough to sweat in, as well as make you want to come back.
Despite the benefits of having a gym membership, sticking to it can be tricky, with 46% of respondents also indicating that they don’t use their membership as much as they thought they would. This is where the cost aspect comes into it, with respondents spending, on average, just over $73 per month on gym memberships, which will quickly add up to be quite a big expense.
As a result, choosing a gym will come down to how you use it. If you’re looking for something specific, chains such as F45, Fernwood or Goodlife may be a better fit due to their classes, while Jetts and Plus Fitness may be better suited for those who aren’t sure about the gym and prefer not to sign a contract. Health and fitness is certainly a priority in today’s society, but it’s best that you find the gym best suited to your needs, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of those free trials before you put pen to paper.
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who are paying members of a commercial gym/fitness chain – in this case, 1,240 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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