Which gym do you go to?

running on treadmillAlex emails with question that a lot people seem to have around the first of the year:

Could you do one of those things where you post a question, and then people comment on what gyms they've been to? [I'm looking for a new gym to join.]

So, which gym do you go to? And what do you like/dislike about it?

Please share!

photo: Flickr user eccampbell


I belong to Gold's in Guilderland, but I have trained there and at the Latham location. For the times that I train, the equipment at either is adequate, but I have heard complaints that there is a shortage of elliptical trainers and treadmills during peak hours. Most of the staff is friendly at the Guilderland branch, which is a definite plus.

I like the Cicotti Center on Computer Drive. I love the location, because I work on Wolf Road. They have a pool and a track, which is unusual among gyms in this area. They have a very nice, friendly staff who inspire me to visit the gym more often.

I've been going to a gyms regularly for the past 18 years. Here's my advice on how to shop for a gym.

First pick places to look at that are relatively convenient for you to get to. Something near your work or home or somewhere in between the 2. If it's a hassle to get there, you won't go as often.

Price dictates crowds. Some places are dirt cheap at $19 a month, but if you want to work out at peak times before or after the normal workday, you will be frustrated having to wait for equipment to free up. In general, the more money you pay the fewer the crowds.

Make sure you go and take a tour of a place during the time when you will be most likely to work out. How crowded is it at that time? Are the locker rooms and showers clean? How many pieces of cardio equipment have "out of order" signs on them? Is parking easy?

Also look for a place with no long term contract. Month to month is ideal. If the place doesn't live up to the sales pitch you can walk away after a month and go somewhere else.

And to answer your question, I go to the Y in East Greenbush. It's generally clean and it's not overly crowded. It's rare that I have to wait for a piece of equipment. It's $51 a month.

I go to Best Fitness in Westgate Plaza. It gets kinda busy after work (around 5-ish), but clears out pretty quickly. It has a good variety of classes and recently started spinning classes.

I go to the Y . . . no just kidding they left downtown Albany a couple of years ago.

Albany CrossFit. Love the coaches, the community, the constantly varied workouts--- and the results.

I go to Albany Crossfit near Colonie Center Mall. The community is amazing, and they have a special on your first month if you join before the end of the year. The workouts push you, but scale to everyone's fitness level. You should check them out. www.albanycrossfit.com

I go to the Y... in North Albany, in Empire State Plaza, in Schenectady, Guilderland and sometimes even East Greenbush. They have accessible locations all over the Capital District, which allows me to choose my location based on whatever I have going on in my life that day/night. I've never had a problem with over-crowding and the fact that it's a YMCA and not a Gold's Gym lets me train hard (in peace) w/o having to interact with the meat-heads who yell during each rep. The facilities aren't state of the art (read: locker rooms suck), but then again I'm not there for a spa treatment.

It's cheap, it has EVERYTHING I need, it's never crowded and the number of locations make it super convenient.

(@Washington Park - i know you're just trying to be funny/angry at the Y for leaving Washington Ave, but rest assured you could walk another two blocks and be at the Empire State Plaza Y)

Spencer pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Here's my two cents:

Planet Fitness seems to be geared towards women and keeping meatheads out. I'm pretty sure they took out all weights over 60 lbs. Also, everything is yellow and purple.

Gold's seems to be for meatheads and people looking to do anything other than work out, i.e. pick up women, stare at themselves in the mirror and talk on their cell phones.

Best Fitness is good but parking sucks and the parking lot is a death trap for pedestrians, not to mention the seagulls. (If someone could explain why Westgate Plaza has seagulls, I'd love to know). The new look is nice and spacious but Jenn is right, it's REAL busy between 4-7 p.m. It's an interesting mix of young professionals/college kids, middle aged people getting back in shape and various law-enforcement members.

I took a little tour of Albany Strength once...seemed gritty but good for those who want to get huge. Not for everyone. Parking is also a problem.

I am thinking about joining the YMCA in Bethlehem, it's huge, has a pool, ice rink and basketball courts and it's near my home. The biggest selling point that has me considering switching gyms is the classes they offer. They have everything from pilates to spinning.

I am currently a member of Plant Fitness and it's terrible, the only reason I'm still a member is because of how cheap it is.

YMCA. Membership is cheap and good at any capital region branch. Awesome group exercise classes. Pool, skating rink, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, basketball courts, best of all - 90 minutes of complementary child care per day while you exercise. Can't beat it if you're a parent. And the folks there are truly normal and unassuming. I never feel judged.

Capital Region Tennis and Fitness near thurway exit 23 and 9w -full fitness center, not crowded, nice folks.

I like the JCC because it's close to where I live and convenient.

It really depends on what you're looking for from a gym. $51 a month for a gym is pretty darn expensive if you just want to use treadmills (especially if you think you're going to be running outside whenever you get the chance).

I go to Planet Fitness and use the bikes and treadmills. For $19.99 a month (with the Blackcard, which gives you free guest passes all the time and allows you to use any Planet Fitness) it's all I really need. Yes, it will be quite crowded during certain hours, but you can't really avoid that. I go to the one in East Greenbush that's right near Price Chopper so I kill 2 birds with one stone when I visit.

I'm pretty sure I saw some guy on Craigslist advertising that he would pay your gym membership, buy you creatine and protein drinks and pay for a personal trainer, if you just went to the gym and worked out with him...

After reading the comments, this is really going to be a toss-up between CrossFit and the Y. I've been wanting to join Albany CrossFit for a while (but the $$$...), and have done CrossFit workouts before. However, the Empire State Plaza is one block from my apartment in Center Square. Maybe I'll just have to put down the dough.

I live in Clifton Park and used to love going to the YMCA here. The classes, the gym, the pool and the whole facility was awesome.

But now that I'm trying to save money, I'll probably go to the Planet Fitness. I went there a few years ago and it got the job done. Plus, it's conveniently located to my house. It's not as great as the YMCA, but it is a comfortable place to work out.

Also don't forget that the Y has a membership for all program that anyone can apply for a discounted membership. Also, if you join the Y on new years day they waive the joiner fee.

The JCC in Schenectady is great - has classes throughout the day and evening. It has a nice pool and work-out room. There are members of all ages and sizes and the trainers are always willing to help.

get a dog.

@Rebecca, haha agree.

When I lived 1 mile from it, I belonged to the JCC in Albany. It had some convenient spin classes, lots of other classes, the fitness center was never jam packed when I was there, and the membership was cheap for a couple/family. The locker rooms are decent. If you like to swim, the pool is barely ever open for laps after work - lots of lessons and swim team practices instead. In the morning the pool is jam packed with older ladies.

@Rebecca: I'm allergic to dogs.

Collar City Crossfit all the way. Check out yelp for reviews of all of the crossfit gyms in the area. Collar City is worth ever penny.

Don't rule out Crossfit Beyond on Broadway in downtown Albany (near the Biergarten, Stout, etc). It's much smaller, less expensive and more convenient than Albany Crossfit.

I've also belonged to Albany Crossfit, The JCC, Planet Fitness, Best Fitness, and Crossfit Beyond at various times over the last eight years. The JCC, Best and Crossfit Beyond are preferable for various reasons.

Beware of the Y in the plaza...it's like a mini Y, without the regular amenities, and the membership doesn't include access to the other, nicer Y's with pools and such.

A jump rope, a TRX, some kettlebells, a pull up bar, and a pair of running shoes. Who needs a gym?

Seconding Collar City Crossfit. I've been down to Crossfit Beyond and it looks pretty nice, too. I've heard mixed things about Albany CF but I did have a nice time there at the Fall Face Off.

Albany Crossfit/ Crossfit Clifton Park. Coaches are great as are the people who go there. Everyone is very helpful and friendly.... Yes we actually talk to each other there! Yes it's more pricey than the globo gyms but it's worth it to get the knowledge of the staff, help with movements and encouragement from others. The workouts are tough but they are scaled for each individual.... Most of all it's a fun place to work out!

I really love being a part of Albany Crossfit and Crossfit Clifton Park. These two facilities are way more than your average gym. They offer affective ,challenging programing, supportive kind coaches, and a whole community of great people. They have events specialty classes and nutrician seminars. When I don't hit the daily work out there , I use Golds gym in latham . I really love the strike training classes and there is a lot of new cardio equipment and plenty of free weight. Cheap is not always better , remember you get what you pay for ! ( aimed at PF)

I go to Albany crossfit... I've been to many a gym before.. But only at ACF have I felt I learned a Lot about nutrition and proper ways to exercsise without getting hurt or injured. All the trainers had great knowledge and are always willing to help better peoples fitness goals.

Albany Crossfit /Clifton Park Crossfit - I have belonged to several gyms but have found Albany/Clifton Park Crossfit to be the most challenging and rewarding workout. The coaches actually know what they are talking about and are continually attending trainings to expand their knowledge, they respond to emails within a couple of hours and will take time to chat about any thing from fitness to diet. The workouts are different everyday and never boring. The community is amazing . . . .no one comes up to you on a xtrainer or treadmill at a gym and cheers for you to get through the workout but they certainly do at Crossfit when you are finishing the workout.

I'm a total gym rat and gym snob. I go to Absolute Pilates once a week for a trio lesson with Lynda, belong to the Albany JCC in the summer to swim and now belong to Albany CrossFit as my primary gym. In the past I have belonged to Ballys, Planet Fitness, Golds and Best Fitness in Albany. Ballys is dirty and their equipment is broken down and ancient. Best Fitness is just a churn and burn gym - get people in and out. Golds gets crowded, needs a facelift (Guilderland) and feels like a meat market when I'm there. I don't need to be hit on whole covered in sweat. Planet Fitness has poor quality equipment and because of their low price point brings an interesting crowd. They staff at PF also has limited exercise-related knowledge and experience, which surprisingly does effect ones experience there. I love Albany CrossFit and Absolute Pilates - if you're looking to be fit, healthy and really understand the movements your doing and why, along with hands-on, experience coaching these are both a great fit.

I have been going to Albany CrossFit for 2+ years and it is an excellent gym. For me, nothings beats working out with others to really push me in a workout. People tend to work out harder when the other people around them are working hard as well. Also, the coaches at Albany CrossFit are always helpful and there to make you perform your best whatever level that might be. Give it a try before you commit to anything else. You might find it is the thing that keeps you motivated to exercise on a consistent basis.

I've been at Albany CrossFit for 4 years and I love it! The coaches truly care about each member, know what they're doing, and make a point of knowing each and every member and where their fitness level is. Workouts are constantly varied, and coaches customize and scale them to suit the needs of the athletes. It's more than a gym. It's a community.

I have been a member at Albany Crossfit now for just about 8 months. Not only is it unlike any other workout establishment I have ever been a member of, but the coaches and members are beyond accommodating and encouraging. These workouts are constantly varied and really give you some of the best all-body workouts I have ever experience...and it absolutely shows!! When a workout has just about gotten the best of you, someone is there giving you words of wisdom and encouragement to push through. Not only do you have this support, but you will realize what extremes you can push your body to. I don't see myself doing anything else, anywhere else as long as I am capable :)

Omni gym, on State Street, downtown. It's on the second floor of 54 State. Not the cheapest in the area, but the membership is mostly office tenants who only use the gym early a.m. and at lunch. New equipment, and probably no more than 25 people use the gym total on any given day. If you're looking for a bonding / support kind of workout, do crossfit or maybe gold's, but if you want to do your own thing at your own pace... I'd recommend Omni.

I love ACF, for all the positive things that it does for me. As mentioned above, it scales the workouts to my needs (and I do have needs) and the coaching is excellent. There is no hesitation to individualize them for me. The coaching is actually getting better and better, and the community there is great. The varied age group makes it fun and more interesting for those who are a member of the "older" set.

I've tried a number of gyms over the years, including sampling Gold's (sweaty and loud), some YMCAs (limited equipment, extremely limited coaching, varying cleanliness), Planet Fitness (where excelling is discouraged; Mediocrity For The Win!), when I found my way to CrossFit workouts at home, then into Albany CrossFit for some actual training.

I've been at Albany Crossfit for almost two years, and it's the only exercise program I've been willing or able to stick to for more than a few months. It's different every day. It's extremely efficient (imagine completing your cardio AND strength all in the same workout, in less than an hour!). Oh, yeah, and it's functional. I don't often perform "bicep curls" in day-to-day life, but I do pick things up from the ground and put them places. Now I'm better and stronger at that.

The coaching at ACF is top-notch, too. Warm-up and review of movements before each workout, readily available consultation on anything from movements to nutrition to recovery, and options to modify movements so everybody can participate and progress. Plus, your neighbor is as excited to see you finish as you are. And if you're done first, cheer them on; they could use the push!

Right, loads of class times, too. 10 class times per day, not counting specialty classes. (Yoga! KettleBells! Mobility/Stretching!)

Love the variety, love the people, love the professionalism.

It totally depends on the kind of workout you want. If you want to pay minimal money and "do your own thing", the big box gyms might be fine. If you want classes or some personal training, big box might be just fine. If you have a strategic goal, do your homework. You get what you pay for.
I pay for my Albany Crossfit work outs. I won't preach to you about how Jay, Kevin, Viv, Kia, Josh, Caleb and Dean have changed my life. You will either experience it for yourself or you won't. Crossfit is a choice and a commitment. It's a community where you are tested and supported. I have seen every one of these coaches put their money where their mouths are- some of my favorite workouts were done side by side with the very coach who convinced me I had one last rep or 5 more pounds to add.
You can do some more research, you can read everyone's reviews- the good and the bad. Go physically check them out. Watch a group hit a workout at a Crossfit. Whatever choice you make, it's yours. Own it.

Albany Crossfit. ALL THE WAY!!!

I definitely suggest Albany Crossfit/Crossfit Clifton Park!! I've belonged to other local gyms (golds and PF) before and never went but wasted my money. Crossfit is the only gym that I've belonged to for over a year, stuck to it and have actually enjoyed going to. I have meant some amazing people that have changed my life in many ways. Crossfit has opened up my eyes to many things. The workouts are able to be scaled to anyone!!! Crossfit has helped my life outside of the gym as well. I will never look back at walking thru the doors at ACF/CCP.

Yes Crossfit is expensive but being one of the largest boxes in the country, they care about you! They will call you if they don't see you often enough or for a long time. They will support you. and most importantly....They CHALLENGE you to challenge yourself!

Beware! The brainwashed minions of Albany CrossFit (which honestly is probably the same dude posting all of those glowing reviews) have been released from their cages! Prepare the cattle prods! Drive the horde back to their cages!

ACF has a strong cult-like vibe to it. It's definitely not my kind of place or my kind of people, and every time I interact with one of them it further reinforces my suspicions. I do agree with one of the ACF drone posts, however: Cheap is not always better. Planet Fitness is a real piece of crap, even for the most "casual" members. I can almost guarantee you that you will end up hating the place. Planet Fitness "prides" itself on not being a meathead gym. The problem is that especially in this area, there are no true meathead gyms. The local Gold's, for example, has far more soccer moms and old ladies than your stereotypical meatheads. There isn't that meathead demographic in this area so none of the major local gyms have tailored themselves towards that.

There aren't any gyms that are _great_ in this area. Gold's is pretty solid, although as someone else mentioned they can get super busy and cardio equipment can take a while to get fixed (this is a problem because even when they're all up and running properly, they can be hard to get your hands on during peak times). There is also a battalion of high school/college freshmen morons who flock to Gold's in the evening. While mildly annoying, they're pretty easily ignored and avoided.

There are a few good YMCA locations around here, but remember that they're really not fantastic for the actual gym equipment. The strength of the YMCA is the other features included, such as indoor tracks and swimming pools, but keep in mind that these features add to the cost of your membership.

Healthplex in Clifton Park is another gym I'd avoid. From my interactions with them, as well as the interactions that friends and colleagues have had, it's a very bizarre gym. Lots of weird horror stories from that place, from billing disasters to spontaneously-unpleasant interactions with the owner.

As far as Best Fitness or Bally's goes, I don't have any information on them. My only gripe about Bally's is that working out in Crossgates Mall just seems weird to me. I'd never join that gym (or any gym located in a mall like that).

Some other people mentioned Collar City CrossFit. Collar City CrossFit is run by a different group of people than the whackos at Albany/Clifton Park CrossFit (Albany and Clifton Park are run by the same person). I've never dealt with CCC but from what I gather from friends who go there, it's a hugely improved atmosphere over ACF.

My advice: Pretty much all of the gyms in the area offer free trials. Give them ALL a shot before making a commitment to any of them. If the gym doesn't offer a no-strings-attached FREE trial, don't even bother with them. You shouldn't have to pay anything to assess the gym's ability to meet your expectations.

Also be extraordinarily skeptical of any nutritional plan or diet pushed by the gyms you try. Many gyms in the area push them (like that Paleo nonsense or that Isagenix garbage). They will give you amazing testimonials and impressive statistics which are, for the most part, worthless. If you're concerned about your diet and nutrition, talk to someone who is actually qualified to discuss such matters with you: your doctor.

To be honest, head over to Fleet Feet and buy yourself a nice pair of running shoes. Or check out Plaine's or Elevate and pick up a bicycle. There's no monthly membership for those options and unless you're planning on doing some serious weightlifting, they're just as good as (if not better than) a gym membership.

I would have to respectfully disagree with Varen's post about Albany Crossfit-- I was a member for a while and I enjoyed going-- but I feel like non-ACFers might see ACF'ers as 'cult'ish because they are SO INTO what they do. My problem with getting into the community was that most people I talked to were seriously only into or interested in talking about one hobby-- Crossfit. So I didn't have too much in common with anyone (because I have so many other interests!) and it was hard to integrate into the 'community atmosphere'. I will say though, that the coaches were amazing and are really passionate about what they do-helping people achieve their fitness goals.

I checked out Crossfit Beyond and it seemed really nice although I never became a member because my schedule is too erratic to be able to work out there. I would suggest it- less crowded, and Joy (the owner/trainer there) is really interested in community outreach using fitness.

In terms of crossfit-it's awesome if you want to learn some serious skills. I could work out on my own or at any gym now because I know how to lift weights properly and do a variety of other exercises that give me an effective workout.

Albany Crossfit, duh.

I go to ACF. At 40 years of age, having always done some fitness regime, I can say that I am the strongest and in the best shape of my life. I could not have made this kind of progress on my own....i've tried. it's intense, but that's what makes it worth it. the acf coaches, workouts, and community are what i've needed all along.

The Steuben Athletic Club in downtown Albany is where I go, and I don't think I've seen it mentioned in any of the posts. They have great amenities and a relaxed atmosphere; it's not crowded usually. Location is also very convenient for me, which seems to be the most important factor in selecting a gym.

The Crossfit-type workouts are beneficial because it is a whole-body workout that makes the entire body stronger, which will prevent injury. The workouts change daily, which prevents boredom and muscle accommodation.

I have only had experience with Albany and Clifton Park Crossfits. Each workout is led by certified coaches, who demonstrate the movements in each workout. This is followed by a warm-up of the movements, in which modifiers are discussed if needed. The coaches watch each person to ensure that the proper form is utilized. This is critical in preventing injury and is missing from many gyms.

Another important distinction is the willingness of the owners/coaches to support their members. They promote and utilize the services of their members. The business-to-business support is essential to sustaining the vitality of our small business community.

When searching for something you will invest in, it is important to be an educated consumer. Be sure to do your research...do site-visits, talk with the owners about their mission. After this, the choice will be obvious.

I really like The Court Club, located next to Colonie Center. They have a variety of fitness classes that are not crowded. The instructors are really friendly and knowledgable. The weight room and cardio rooms are never too busy even at the most popular times of day. The Court Club also has racquetball courts and squash courts. You don't have to be a member to play. You can pay a guest fee, and they let you play as long as you want. They also have a neat rock climbing wall that is open to the public for children as young as 6 years old.

I would suggest at least trying Albany Crossfit - for the workouts alone... you will get your bootie kicked, but in a supportive way. I've been to CCC, and while it was great it was too mellow for me. The enthusiasm of the coaches and community at ACF is crazy great. I will agree that I sometimes find it hard to connect with some of the more tenured athlete - but they are amazingly inspiring... give the free trial a try!

and PS... Dr.s are clueless when it comes nutrition, always do your own research and make your own decisions!

"Dr.s are clueless when it comes nutrition".... rebecca, I don't think that's the most sound advice. You think you can learn more about nutrition from the internet than from your own doctor? If that's the case, you should get a new doctor.

Maybe I do need a new doc, I've never one that first looked at nutrition when I've reported an ailment...and the Internet is certainly not where I do my research. Books :) you have to do what is right for YOUR body and YOUR beliefs - I have yet to find one that falls inline with mine.

OP... As for choosing a gym, find one that fits within your budget, that works with your schedule, but most importantly fits in with your beliefs. Didn't mean to go off topic with the nutrition thing, but I get frustrated with blanket answers. Sorry for shooting off the hip with my PS!


I love the Y, and they actually waive their joiner fee through the whole week. They have plenty of equipment, TONS of classes, knowledgeable staff, and it's not intimidating. Schenectady is brand new and their facilities are beautiful (including the locker room). Free daycare and scholarship programs are also a benefit for those who need to take advantage of them. Best of all, they're a community organization, so even though the price may be a little high compared to some basic gyms, you know your money is going to a good cause, also.

I've used Adam Harding as a personal trainer for the past couple of months now-- and he is GREAT. He comes to my house in East Greenbush and brings weights with him, so i don't have to even worry about joining a gym or getting my own stuff. His prices are really reasonable compared to other personal at home trainers, and the workouts are a combination of strength training and high intensity anaerobic intervals. These really get the sweat going in only a couple of minutes. My husband and I have lost 25 pounds combined since January and put on a ton of lean body mass. We are both in our fifties. I believe he also coaches all of the strength and conditioning aspect of the running programs at Fleet Feet Sports Albany, as well as Albany Medical and multiple other business. If you're interested get in touch!!


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