Five ‘hidden gem’ gyms to escape the crowds, change up your workout

Jan. 30, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness.

It happens every January as regularly as the temperatures dropping: The parking lots at GreatLIFE fitness centers become even more full.

If you’ve noticed bigger crowds at your favorite center lately, it’s likely the influx of people committing to be healthier in 2019.

So consider venturing out into a center you haven’t used as much. GreatLIFE members enjoy unlimited access to all GreatLIFE fitness centers, and most are open anytime you can fit in a workout.

Here’s a look at five places to try.

East-side stop

Whether you live on the east side or find yourself passing along East 10th Street, stop in for a workout at GreatLIFE’s 10th and Mable Avenue location.

It’s open 24 hours with trainers there from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 to 8 a.m. on Friday. They will schedule individual sessions in the evening too. GreatLIFE’s Austin Kjergaard let us in on what to expect.

Equipment: There’s a variety of free weights, Cybex machines and cardio equipment, plus a beautiful private fitness room open to members.

The crowd: It’s a fun and welcoming crowd where team members know your name and will ask how you’re doing.

The biggest surprise: People comment often on how clean it is, the warmth of the community, and they love the private fitness room.

Pro tip: If the parking lot looks full from the front, just pull in anyway. There’s extra parking behind the building.

Downtown option

Even GreatLIFE regulars probably forget about this one. But if you work, live or come downtown to shop or dine, there’s a great fitness option waiting for you.

EmBe’s fitness center is part of GreatLIFE and is open at 300 W. 11th St. from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

GreatLIFE’s Cole Nelson fills us in on what you’ll find.

Equipment: It’s a midsized facility with Matrix equipment throughout. There’ a squat rack, Smith machine, bench and a full rack of dumbbells up to 100 pounds.  There are two group fitness studios, including a spin studio, and 25-yard pool with three lanes available all the time for lap swimming.

The crowd: It’s a diverse crowd, from older members who take advantage of aqua classes to bankers and lawyers who come work out over lunch. In the evening, it’s younger professionals who live downtown and come to get a workout in. There also are a lot of endurance athletes – cyclists, triathletes and runners – who use the pool for cross-training.

The biggest surprise: This used to be the YWCA, so a lot of people still think that it is only for women. Members also are surprised by the group fitness rooms and classes.

Pro tip: The spin studio has fitness on demand – a virtual fitness platform that allows members to access a variety of different classes, from yoga, Zumba, kickboxing to spin.

Neighborhood feel

Work out in the heart of the city at GreatLIFE’s 39th Street and Phillips Avenue location.

It’s in a great neighborhood, close to tons of other neighborhoods, and it’s open 24 hours with trainers from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

GreatLIFE’s Jeremy Klaasen tells us what you’ll find there.

Equipment: There’s an abundance of free weights, including a range of Hammer Strength equipment, plus everything you need for cardio or resistance training.

The crowd: It’s a great group. The center is small enough to give it a friendly feel, not overwhelming, but it can accommodate plenty of people.

The biggest surprise: Most people don’t realize how big it is inside. They’re surprised by the quality and variety of the equipment.

Pro tip: The gym is structured into distinct areas, so you can feel like you’ve gone to a different place just by doing cardio one day and strength training the next.

West-side workout

Do you live or work on the west side? You’ve got to check out GreatLIFE’s Career Crossing at 4101 W. Benson Road. Members have 24-hour access, and there’s so much demand for trainers that they often start with clients at 5 a.m. and work until 11 p.m. Staffed hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

GreatLIFE’s Derek Domino gives us the details on this spacious center.

Equipment: There are plenty of options, including 21 different cardio pieces, from classic treadmills to a couple stepmills, plus full-size locker rooms.

The crowd: Because it’s located near big employers like Premier Bankcard and Midco, there’s a heavy lunch rush of professionals. The evening crowd mixes younger and older adults. It’s more of a quiet but cordial crowd then as most people keep to themselves and are there to get a workout in.

The biggest surprise: New members experiencing the gym for the first time can’t believe how much more physical and mental energy they are able to expel in their daily lives after going to the gym. Members who see the best results find comfort in establishing a daily or weekly routine.

Pro tip: Your NFL knowledge can pay off here. Career Crossing holds a football pick’em league during the NFL season and will be crowning a post-season champ too. Winners take home GreatLIFE swag.

Scenic secret

You literally have to go underground to find the gym at GreatLIFE’s Willow Run Golf Course center, but it’s totally worth it.

There’s 24-hour access with trainers there from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Friday, with other individual sessions scheduled.

GreatLIFE’s Austin Kjergaard gives us the inside scoop.

Equipment: Work out with a golf course view using free weights, Matrix machines and cardio equipment. There’s also a beautiful private fitness room, a swimming pool, locker rooms and classes, including aquatics and yoga.

The crowd: It can vary, but it’s an upbeat, fun community with a welcoming staff.

Biggest surprise: People are often surprised by how spacious and clean it is.

Pro tip: You have to go downstairs, just to the left of the Willow Run clubhouse to get there. And if you really love the location, you can even move into the building. Residents of The Bluffs receive GreatLIFE memberships and can use the fitness center without ever walking outside.

Join GreatLIFE today for $0 down, no enrollment fee and no payments until March. To learn more, click here.

Five ‘hidden gem’ gyms to escape the crowds, change up your workout

Is the parking lot at your favorite fitness center looking a little more full lately? Check out these five under-the-radar options that will change up your workout.

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