Update (Jun 21, 2012): For the past three weeks I’ve been going to Riverside Fitness and I’m very happy with it so far.
Update (Aug 8, 2013): Some of the details contained within this review are now outdated. For example, Riverside is no longer offering a $60 month-to-month plan. You either sign up for a full year or opt for an expensive month-to-month plan (I believe $95/month at the time of writing). Nevertheless, reading this post will still give you plenty of general information about the gyms at hand. For the record, I now lift at The Gym.
Despite being a small city, Penticton has a variety of gyms to choose from. As I want to find one for myself, I decided to do a bit of footwork and go visit six such facilities, asking for a tour and information about membership at each.
In this article I share my first impressions of each of these gyms, as I hope these thoughts will help others in the same spot and perhaps lead you to find the best gym in Penticton.
In the order that I visited them, the gyms that I considered were:
- Riverside Fitness & Health
- The Gym
- City Centre Health & Fitness
- Penticton Racquet & Fitness Club
- Lakeside Fitness
- Penticton Community Centre
Riverside Fitness & Health Pros
- The facility is very new and clean.
- Free parking is available immediately next to the entrance. (The irony of including parking distance in a review about gyms doesn’t escape me.)
- This gym is the only truly 24 hour facility in town, once you’ve purchased a key fob (for a one time payment of $49.99). With that key you can let yourself in at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year (holidays included). This aspect is very appealing to me, and I’m sure it is to others as well.
- The receptionist, Katy, is friendly and professional. Of all the facilities I’ve visited, she was the only person who offered a tour voluntarily. They took my name and a few details, and then offered me a couple of free sessions in exchange for my feedback in an email survey. From a marketing standpoint they were the most proactive in trying to get my business, yet were not obnoxious or overly pushy at any time.
- Riverside Fitness & Health is very quiet and doesn’t appear to be too busy. According to Katy, “There are at most 8 people here at any one time”. When I was there, preciseley 3 people were working out.
- The facility does not include any stairs (having arthritis in both of my legs, stairs are not the kind of exercise I need).
- A few classes are included in the basic membership, allowing you to take one class of your choice per day. These are Yoga, Spinning
, Bosu, and TRX Body Blasts. Additional classes are available for those who’ve opted for more expensive memberships or for an additional fee in the case of specialty classes such as crossfit. In particular, they have an excellent Pilates studio/room, however availing of which requires their most expensive (over $200 a month) membership.
- Free towel service. Got to like that.
- Affordable: $60/month pay as you go, or $49/month on a 12 month contract. (Yearly gym membership contracts are rarely a good idea, unless you really get into working out frequently after a few months of paying as you go.)
Riverside Fitness & Health Cons
- The facility is pretty small compared to some of the other gyms in town. Although not busy, there are just two treadmills, two ellipticals, etc.
- There isn’t a circuit available, such as the Nautilus system.
- No pool.
- Basic Plus membership ,which includes all standard classes (so no specialty classes, for which you need to pay individually), is a bit expensive at $120/month pay as you go, or $99/month on a 12 month contract.
The Gym Pros
- A very nice, clean facility that’s centrally located.
- Free underground parking (hard to find above ground parking during most daytime hours otherwise).
- It’s a 24 hour facility, sort of. It’s continuously open from 5am on Monday until 8pm on Friday. Then it’s open from 8am to 6pm on Saturday, and 8am to 5pm on Sunday. On holidays they are open from 8am to 12pm. So essentially, you won’t be able to work out between 8pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday, from 6pm on Saturday until 8am on Sunday, and from 5pm on Sunday until 5am on Monday. If you are a weekend night owl, this may not work for you, but otherwise it’s close enough to being 24 hours.
- The Gym is fairly large with a variety of up-to-date equipment in the weight and cardio department, including a Nautilus circuit for quick, safe resistance workouts.
- Tanning and child minding services are available for an additional fee, unless you get their gold membership ($300 for 3 months or $91.74/mo on a yearly plan; there’s no monthly plan offered at the gold membership level), in which case they’re included. I personally have no need for either, but they’re worth mentioning as an advantage of this Penticton gym over some of the others. The gold membership also includes classes and two free shakes per month.
- Ionized air to reduce the spread of microbial contamination.
- They have a bar with healthy choices, should you need to recharge after your workout.
- It looks like The Gym is the place to be if you’re serious about bodybuilding, judging by the clientele.
- An Infrared sauna is available for free on premise.
- There’s a ladies only section of the weight room.
- Affordable: $60/month pay as you go, or $50/month on a 12 month contract. A three year contract drops the membership fee down as low as $42.67 per month.
- The Gym has a strong “Bro” culture. Think, “You gotta work on your quads, bro. Here have a protein shake, bro” level of broness. The crowd frequenting the facility seems to be young and testosterone laden, including shirtless Hulk-like individuals. This in turn makes the place much more intimidating for regular folks, when compared to any other gym in town.
- Classes are not included in the basic membership and they cost a lot (from $45 and up a month) if you don’t opt for the gold membership (which is expensive in and of itself).
- This place is probably the busiest gym in Penticton. Thankfully they have lots of equipment available so this shouldn’t be a massive problem.
- Free clean towel service is not included in monthly pay as you go memberships.
- They don’t have a swimming pool.
City Centre Health & Fitness Pros
- Less flashy than the previous two gyms, but still a large facility located on the third floor of a downtown building.
- Decent hours (5am – 10pm Monday to Thursday, 5am – 9pm on Friday, and 8am to 6pm on the weekend.)
- Free towel and locker key service.
- Free weekly yoga class on Friday.
- In summer, spinning classes are held on top of the roof.
- Quite a few classes are available for an extra fee.
- Good mix of people attending the facility.
- Not overly busy with plenty of cardio and weight equipment (which is pretty advanced and new). A circuit is available as well.
- Cheap: $50/month for pay as you go, or $40/month on a yearly contract.
City Centre Health & Fitness Cons
- Unless you buy a membership that’s three months or longer, you don’t receive free parking on the pay as you go plan. This means that you are faced with the challenge of parking downtown. The options are parking a couple of streets away (on Winnipeg Street) or sticking to the free parking that’s available on Main Street, in which case you need to be in and out in less than an hour. Not cool.
- Classes are not included in the membership.
- They also don’t have a pool.
Penticton Racquet & Fitness Club Pros
- A very large facility with more than just cardio and weight rooms. It includes squash and racquetball courts, as well as a few special amenities like the possibility of booking a massage therapist on site.
- Free parking right next to the entrance.
- Decent opening hours (6am – 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 6pm Saturday, 8am to 4pm Sunday.)
- Quiet and idle.
- There’s a ladies only room.
- Affordable: $60/month pay as you go, or $50 on a yearly plan.
Penticton Racquet & Fitness Club Cons
- Clientele mostly comprised of old men, if that matters to you.
- There are a few stairs to get to the weight room.
- Use of both court and equipment requires an all-inclusive membership for $80/month (or $65 on a year contract).
- Despite the presence of quite a few machines, both the cardio and weight rooms combined were not as big as one would expect in such a large facility.
- Classes are not included in the membership.
- They don’t have a pool.
Lakeside Fitness Pros
- Decent sized facility which includes a small, but adequate sized, pool and whirlpool.
- Large class/activities area.
- Nautilus circuit available.
- Free parking with membership (but only on the second and third floor of the parking structure, otherwise it’s pay by the hour).
- Decent opening hours (6am – 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 6pm on the weekend.)
- Child minding available.
- Quiet and idle.
- They offer a complementary orientation or personal training session to get you familiar with the facility and equipment.
- Cheap: $50/month pay as you go, or $30/month if paying for a full year in advance. The price includes use of the pool and whirlpool as well.
Lakeside Fitness Cons
- Much less flashy or new looking than the other places in town.
- For some reason it’s also darker than other gyms in Penticton.
- There are some stairs to get to the weight room.
- Located next to the Casino, so it’s in a pretty busy area (including a busy parking lot).
- Cardio equipment is available in 10 minute bursts, for which you need to put your name down for a given machine on a schedule that’s available on the wall (which limits you to 40 minutes maximum per machine).
- Classes are not included in membership and are relatively expensive ($55/month).
Penticton Community Center Pros
- Stunning pool and whirlpool facility. The pool is huge and includes 10 lanes, plus there’s a lifeguard on duty at all times. It’s the best facility in Penticton from this standpoint.
- Plenty of parking available near the entrance.
- The weight and cardio room all has the essentials you’ll likely need.
- Large changing rooms.
- Decent hours (between 6am – 8pm weekdays on the summer, 8:30am – 4pm on the weekend.)
- Affordable: $54/month with pay as you go, or $379 (the equivalent of $31.58/month) if you opt for a yearly membership.
Penticton Community Centre Cons
- Tons of children running around in the pool area. It’s not exactly a calm, quiet environment.
- There are a number of concrete stairs in order to get to the weight and cardio room.
- Less furnished than other Penticton gyms. In particular, I didn’t see a circuit or a huge number of machines.
- Showers are completely open in the men’s changing room, which means you really don’t get much in the way of privacy.
- Pool not included in the standard membership. Pool and Fitness (combined) rates are $89/month, or $629 if paying for a full year in advance.
- The whole facility smells like chlorine everywhere (not just in/around the pool).
- As is often the case with community centers, they tend to attract a, how shall we say, diverse clientele. As I was touring the facility I was approached by a well-meaning but completely crazy in the coconut man who asked me if I was a bodybuilding instructor. Trust me, I look nothing like one. He then engaged me in a very weird and very creepy conversation, from which I bailed out as politely as I could. Of course, you can meet a guy like that anywhere, but I think you’re less likely to face that problem in gyms that are not operated by the city.
At the end of the day, I feel it’s remarkable that there are so many gym options in such a small city. Which of these is the best gym in Penticton? Hard to say. It really depends on what you want and need.
To me, the possibility of going to the gym anytime I want is really important. During the day I’m very busy, so I can really see myself randomly showing up to work out at 4am sometimes. This would pretty much limit the field to the first two options, Riverside Fitness & Health and The Gym.
At the time of writing I haven’t decided yet between these two. The good news is that with no yearly commitment, I can always try one and switch to a different gym the following month, if I’m not happy with my first choice. I’ll post an update here regarding which one I opt for within the near future.