Different Types of Fitness Centers

types of exercise

There are several different types of fitness centers, and the fitness center that you decide to join should be the one that best provides the amenities you are seeking, offers a comfortable atmosphere, is ideally located, and is within your price range. Prior to choosing a fitness center, you should give some thought to determining the types of amenities required to facilitate your specific fitness goals.

More specifically, your decision in a fitness center should be based on the types of physical activities you plan on incorporating into your fitness routine. Spend some time determining which physical activities you enjoy the most. Once you have determined the types of amenities that are required to support your personal fitness goals, evaluate each fitness center against this criteria. By doing so, you will find that it is easier to maintain your motivation, and the likelihood that you stick with your fitness routine will increase as well. The following will define several types of fitness centers and the typical amenities that they offer.

Aerobic Centers

Aerobic centers typically feature activities designed to focus on cardiovascular health and well-being. Aerobic centers generally offer a wide variety of classes associated with cardiovascular health, muscle toning and flexibility. This type of fitness center typically provides a wide variety of aerobic activities, with classes including traditional, step, dance, strength training and martial arts (kick boxing) styles.

aerobics class

In addition, many aerobic centers facilitate the use of several types of cardiovascular equipment (stationary bikes, treadmills, stair climbers and ellipticals). For a better understanding of the various types of aerobic activities and their associated health benefits, please visit the Cardiovascular section of our website.

When choosing which aerobic center to join, it's important to align your personal fitness goals with the types of classes that you believe you will enjoy and are physically capable of performing. Once you have determined the types of aerobic activities that you will incorporate into your fitness routine, it is time to determine which aerobic center offers those types of classes.

Visit the aerobic center and discuss with one of the sales individuals the times that the specific classes are offered, the typical class sizes, the qualifications of the instructors, the days/hours of operation and the cost of the membership. Aerobic centers may be a good choice for women that feel more comfortable exercising in a predominantly female environment.

Yoga Centers

Yoga centers and studios offer classes conducted by trained instructors and focus on techniques associated with deep breathing, mental and physical relaxation, and movements that are designed to increase flexibility and elongation of muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons. In addition, there are several types and styles of yoga that focus on developing overall body toning and structural strength.

yoga class

One of the primary benefits of regularly performing a yoga class is to center, focus, and calm the mind. For this reason, many members of this type of fitness center partake in the practice of yoga solely for the benefits related to the mental aspects of relaxation and stress-relief that yoga provides.

Many yoga centers offer classes in the morning, afternoon and evening, so choosing a time to participate in a class is convenient and can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

For example, individuals with a high level of stress at the workplace may find it beneficial to regularly perform a yoga class immediately after completing work.

On the other hand, others may find it beneficial to perform a yoga class before work to better focus their mind on the workday that lies ahead.

There are several different types and styles of yoga, and each of them are slightly different in their approach to mental and physical health and well-being. In order to appropriately discuss the differences in the various types and styles of yoga, we have dedicated an entire section of our website to discussions solely focused on yoga. It is recommended that anyone interested in beginning a yoga class take the time to review the different types and styles of yoga before determining which yoga center offers classes that fit their personal fitness goals.

Dance Centers

Dance centers offer a variety of dance classes designed to teach the individual how to perform specific styles of dance. Dance allows the individual will improve their cardiovascular health, flexibility, structural strength, balance and coordination.

dance class

Many dance types require a partner. For individuals that already have a spouse or a friend that is interested participating with you at a dance center, this may be an excellent avenue. For those who do not have a dance partner, fear not, as there are instructors and other members with whom you can partner.

A dance center membership may be an excellent addition to an individual's overall fitness routine. Many dance routines are very precise and require that the individual focus on the correct posture, movements and timing associated with the specific type of dance.

For many individuals, the mastery of a specific dance type is very motivating and provides a unique sense of accomplishment.

For the individual that wishes to take their proficiency in dance to the next level, competitive dance is worth considering. This being said, individuals that wish to enter dance competitions may first compete at the local level. Thereafter, the winners of a local dance competition can continue on and compete at the regional, national and even international levels.

Pilates Centers

Pilates centers have increased in number over the last decade. This is due in part to the fact that Pilates is an excellent form of exercise that not only focuses on the physical aspects of good health, but the mental aspects as well.

pilates class

There are seven main principles associated with the practice of Pilates:

  1. Proper Alignment
  2. Centering
  3. Concentration
  4. Control
  5. Precision
  6. Breathing
  7. Flowing movement

Pilates is an excellent form of exercise that can be practiced at varying levels of difficulty, thus allowing virtually anyone the ability to regularly participate in a class.

While it's true that Pilates has increased in popularity over the last several years, it may be difficult to locate a Pilates center in smaller cities and rural areas. If this is the case, and an individual is specifically seeking to add Pilates to their fitness routine, they can purchase the necessary Pilates equipment and instructional DVDs and perform the exercises at home.

For individuals that would like to learn more about Pilates, the associated health benefits, and the necessary equipment needed to perform Pilates, please visit our Pilates section under the Yoga and Meditation category.


Gyms typically focus on weight lifting and strength training. All gyms offer an extensive set of free weights, dumbbells and weight machines that are specifically designed to exercise, develop and strengthen the muscles. Although many gyms provide cardiovascular equipment and sometimes offer aerobic classes, the primary focus is on weight training.

weight training

For individuals that are primarily interested in weight lifting and strength training, a gym may be the ideal choice, as most of the members will be solely focused on weight training as well.

This being said, most gyms have personal trainers and members that are very knowledgeable in the field of weight training and can provide guidance for the beginner.

Personal trainers and members can provide the beginner with information related to workout programs, dietary requirements and nutritional supplementation.

In addition, there can be a large difference among the personal trainers in terms of their overall fitness knowledge. For this reason, it will be important to determine the level of each personal trainer before choosing one to work with.

Gyms typically attract more male members when compared to the various types of fitness centers. Hence, it is important to determine if this type of environment is appropriate for you.

For additional information on weight and strength training, please visit the Weight Training section of our website.

Fitness Centers

Fitness centers attempt to incorporate several types of workout facilities into a single location. For instance, most fitness centers offer their members a free weight area (gym), weight machines (gym), cardiovascular equipment (aerobic and gym), aerobic classes (aerobic), yoga classes (yoga), swimming pool, jacuzzis, saunas, tanning beds and child daycare centers. It should be noted some fitness centers do not offer all of the amenities listed above, while others offer all of the amenities listed above and more.

fitness center

Fitness centers provide a wide range of health, fitness, and exercise options, and tend to attract a diverse array of members. The ratio of men to women, young to old, single to married and heavy to thin will be very broad and balanced. This type of environment provides a level of comfort for most individuals and works well across a large percentage of the population.

In addition, virtually all fitness centers employ personal trainers. Personal trainers educate members on how to utilize the equipment, design fitness routines with their personal fitness goals in mind, and discuss the nutritional aspects associated with good health and/or weight loss.

It is important to question the qualifications of each of the personal trainers. Some personal trainers only have a fair knowledge of health and fitness. Many other personal trainers have completed personal trainer courses provided by the fitness center itself, while some personal trainers are certified by universities and other third party institutions. In general, certified personal trainers will be the most knowledgeable regarding health and fitness, and will be able to provide the greatest amount of detailed information to the member.

Athletic Clubs

racquetball court

Athletic centers or clubs provide a place for individuals to participate in virtually all of the amenities of a fitness center along with the ability to compete in a sport. Common sports activities include basketball, racquetball, squash and tennis. A member of an athletic club will have access to a wide range of activities, and hence the ability to choose the types of exercises and events to incorporate into their fitness routine. In addition, many athletic clubs provide an on-site restaurant/bar for their members.

Athletic clubs are typically more expensive to join than any of the previously mentioned types of fitness centers. There are additional fees for many of the amenities that an athletic club provides (e.g. massage, tanning, sports apparel, etc.)

Country Clubs

Country clubs typically provide many of the amenities of a fitness center along with a golf course. For individuals that enjoy the game of golf, a country club may be the preferred path. In addition, many country clubs also include dining as well.

Most country clubs require that the member pay a yearly due to maintain their membership. However, members will typically have to pay an additional fee for many of the amenities that the country club offers. For example, members will have to pay a fee each time they play a round of golf, albeit a reduced fee when compared to a non-member. Hence, country clubs can be an expensive route for the individual that is on a tight budget.

golf course

For many individuals there is a certain level of pride and prestige associated with being a member of an exclusive members-only country club.

This being said, most country clubs are well kept, offer numerous activities and events, and provide an environment that is appropriate for the entire family.

By familiarizing yourself with the various types of fitness centers, you will help to ensure that the fitness center you choose will provide you with the amenities, environment and motivation necessary to begin your personal fitness routine.

By taking the time to first choose the type of physical activities that you enjoy and then becoming a member of a fitness center that provides these activities, you will guarantee yourself a life that is filled with health, fitness and mental well-being.