In any given large metropolitan area, there could be literally hundreds of gyms from which to choose. The range includes small, but barebones gyms for hardcore bodybuilders, family community focused gyms, to gyms for people interested in learning martial arts. However, for this article, well-known Tampa personal trainer and lifelong fitness enthusiast Chris Gaspard discussed with the author five special Tampa fitness centers for those seeking more information.
Elite Strength and Conditioning
Elite is geared toward anyone who is serious about taking their strength training to the next level, including athletes training for powerlifting and strongman competitions, but also regular fitness enthusiasts looking to maximize their weightlifting performance. While this may sound like an intimidating environment, I can say that the atmosphere at Elite is one of the friendliest I’ve encountered. The members train hard, but are supportive of new faces coming in and doing the same, regardless of their specific goals or ability level. Elite has a bare bones, warehouse set-up with equipment such as specialty barbells, chains, weight sleds, tires, gymnastics rings, and much more. The owners, Alan Molina and Scott Stiefeld, are some of the most knowledgeable strength coaches around (Alan was my mentor when we were both with Lifestyle Family Fitness) and they offer both an open gym membership and personal training options for those interested. Elite may not be what everyone is looking for in a gym membership, but it’s very good for what it is – a gym where you can be surrounded by others with the goal and expertise of excelling at the sport of weightlifting, and has access to the best equipment to do so. That’s something you definitely can’t find in most commercial gyms.
CrossFit Ybor and CrossFit Body Construction
CrossFit is a gym franchise and brand of training that strives to address all areas of fitness at once; improving strength, power and endurance within the same fast-paced workout. The idea behind CrossFit is to train your body in a functional manner, to be more all-around fit and therefore better at any physical activity, rather than maximizing any one skill at the expense of another. It draws on sports such as Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics, but has developed its own spin, implementing a Workout of the Day (WOD), which trains the whole body and addresses multiple fitness qualities in each session. This can be a big plus for those who aren’t sure what to do on their own, and want to improve their overall fitness. The group training provided at a CrossFit gym can be a great way to receive fairly individualized guidance on exercise selection and technique. The monthly cost of a membership to a CrossFit gym is more than your typical commercial gym, but includes the group training, providing an alternative to more costly one-on-one personal training.
Another big benefit of the Crossfit group workout set-up is the motivation that comes from being part of a team. Members form bonds and encourage each other – a huge contrast to many commercial gyms. As a result, many members are less likely to skip out on as many workouts and more likely to keep up their workout routine compared to if they had purchased a membership to a more conventional commercial gym, where they may not actually end up using it very much or keeping it for long.
Because of the intense nature of CrossFit training, it may not be the safest or most appropriate workout regimen for everyone, depending on your goals and limitations. But for many, it’s a fantastic way to drastically improve how you look, move and feel. Good Crossfit coaches scale the workouts to their members’ current fitness level. Having had many discussions with friends who go to both CrossFit Ybor and CrossFit Body Construction, I can attest that the coaching that they receive at both of those locations is top notch, and the environment is inviting and motivating for new members.
Lifetime Athletics and LifeSpa Tampa
This international mall fitness center caters to those who want a luxury health club. It includes such amenities as a cafe, hot tub, manicures and pedicures, and even Botox and laser hair removal! Lifetime is also one of the largest health clubs in Tampa, at 5500 square feet. It just opened on April 12th. Membership numbers will be capped to ensure that the club will never be too crowded, adding to the feel of exclusivity. The monthly membership cost is higher than most commercial gyms, and some of the available services have separate costs associated with them, but this club is designed to appeal to those willing to pay for atmosphere, location, and the full spectrum of spa options. If you’re looking for a high-end health club with plenty of space and luxuries, Lifetime is the gym for you!
I have had memberships to a number of gym chains in Tampa, and there’s one more that stands out to me – Youfit. A big part of this company’s appeal is that the club’s memberships are very affordable. Youfit keeps it simple with just 2 options. For $10 a month, members receive unlimited access to any one location. Additionally, for $20 a month, members = have access to all Youfit locations, and the option of bringing a guest with you any time for free. A Youfit health club has all the standard equipment that one would expect in commercial gym – free-weights, weight machines, and cardio equipment. Many Youfit locations also have tanning beds. The inside of a Youfit health club is very distinctive – the walls and equipment are all bright green and purple! Youfit provides a fun, family-friendly environment for people of all ages, goals and body types. And with locations all around Tampa, it’s likely there’s a Youfit health club very close to you!