Woman weightlifting

The Best Gyms In Columbus

I’m a little blah when it comes to resolutions at this stage in my life, but a new year is still a good time to take stock of life and look at what’s working and what needs changing. And when it comes to fitness and health, there’s always something that could use tweaking.

Over the years I’ve been a member of a few Columbus gyms as I’ve moved around the city, and I’ve also been inside of many others for various reasons, which gives me a unique perspective when it comes to deciding on the best gyms in Columbus. It’s easy to end up overpaying for something you end up hating when it comes to these places, and for whatever reason, it’s a category of business that’s hard to research. Prices change and it can be hard to compare apples to apples. Resources like Yelp and personal networks are a great start, but I wanted to dive deeper and put together a guide that we will keep updated over time.

Number one rule though: the best gym is the one you’ll actually go to. For sure keep that top of mind when making a gym commitment. You’re probably not going to want to drive 20 minutes to get to the gym once the new gym buzz wears off.

Want to rave about your gym, suggest another category, or tell us we missed a no brainer? Give us a shout.

Best Gym If Results Are The Bottom Line


11 Athletics gym overview
via 11athletics

If you’re crunched for time, don’t think you like working out, or need fast results your best bet is going to be strength training. The best strength training gym in Columbus is 11athletics, the gym I have been using for the past several years.

11athletics has all the cardio options you’d need (including a spin room), but the selling point here is lifting. Somehow they’ve managed to create a serious weightlifting gym that isn’t bro heaven or intimidating, a rarity in the Columbus gym ecosystem. You don’t have to take my vouch for how great this gym is, because nearly every central Ohio professional athlete trains at 11athletics when they are in town, including NBA players like Evan Turner. You can check out all the pros that trust 11athletics here. It’s an impressive roster, and if anyone would know what’s up it’s people making a living in sports.

11athletics, while not a budget selection (that’s coming up next) is actually a very good value, with base level membership including an all-you-can-attend class pass at a price that’s much cheaper than similar gyms.

Best Gym If You Just Want A Cheap Gym Membership

The Columbus Recreation and Parks Leisure Card

Columbus recreation gym

Forget Planet Fitness. A Leisure Card is going to run you all of $1 and will get you access to any community center. Centers that include weights include Schiller Community Center, Barack Community Center, Barnett Community Center, Beatty Community Center, Blackburn Community Center, and ok I’m not going to run through them all, but you can check out the full list here. Are these weight rooms going to have all the bells and whistles you’ll find at private gyms? Not generally, but there’s weights and cardio machines, and it’s $1. You can’t really beat it when it comes to price and variety of locations.

Best Gyms If You Have The Access

RPAC lobby

The most cost-effective and convenient gym is going to be your office gym if you happen to be lucky enough to work for a company large enough to offer that particular amenity.

Another frugal option is taking advantage of any campus gyms if you have access. If your job requires continuing education or you’re looking at taking a class anyway, it can make financial sense to go ahead and do it and chalk the cost up as also buying access to the campus gym. And good luck finding a better option than something like RPAC.

Finally, make sure you don’t live in a community that has a fitness and wellness center. Examples include Columbus recreation centers, the Westerville Community Center or the Dublin Recreation Center.

Best Gyms With Tennis

Scarborough East tennis courts
via Scarborough East

I’ve been a member of Scarborough East for years. It comes with a full gym, and an innovative video system called Playsight that allows you to use video to improve. While I think it’s the best club in Columbus (and it really is great) the truth is if you want to play tennis in the indoor season you should be looking at whichever club is closest to you. Most Columbus tennis centers come with full gyms and offer cardio tennis, along with league play and learning opportunities.

Best Gym With A Pool

Columbus Aquatics Center pool
via Columbus.gov

A good pool can be hard to find when it comes to Columbus gyms. Your best options are your nearest YMCA or our budget pick: Columbus Recs & Park’s Columbus Aquatics Center.

Best Gyms For People Who Are Into Fitness Trends

Orange Theory

Orange Theory screens
Orange Theory is a hot concept that is all group classes centered largely around cardio with the aim of putting you at different heart rate levels through the workout. There’s a claimed scientific theory underlying it all which you can read about here. People I know who love it care more about it being a regular activity that they can do with friends and not have to think about since the class-based format is akin to going to a group personal training session. Columbus has something like a dozen locations, and memberships are priced regionally but will look something like $59/month for 4 classes through to $159/month for unlimited classes.

Movement Lab Ohio

Movement Lab Ohio interior with obstacles
Via MovementLab Ohio

Enamored with American Ninja Warrior? Movement Lab Ohio can put you in the game, offering elite obstacle course training plus general fitness training using their obstacle-filled facility. Not kidding about American Ninja Warrior either: all three owners have appeared on the show.

What about CrossFit in Columbus?

A weightlifter in a CrossFit location
Columbus has you covered when it comes to Crossfit. We’re blessed with 10 CrossFit locations, spread out fairly evenly through the city, so there’s probably one near you. CrossFit is a pricey fitness option, usually running $150 a month or more, but as we all know, it has its advocates.

Good luck Columbus! These two know you can do it:

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