Gyms in Columbia, MO

Not sure where to work out in town? Here are some gyms in Columbia, Mo that you should check out once you're ready - for new gym-goers and (future) former clients.

Black, York Dumbbells Stored on a Rack at the Gym

Most gyms seem like big, intimating, mazes full of machines, weights, switches, knobs, and bros.

(That's part of why we lean into being a small studio at SSF).

While gyms can seem intimidating at first, if you can get past your initial fears, you might find the right community for you. Familiar faces seem to go to the gym with a semi-consistent schedule.

One of my proudest moments was to hear a former client, Ashley gloat about her confidence walking into a new gym.

Before Ashley started training she noted;

"I just didn’t want that big, open, loud environment. I wanted something more private so I could get through my insecurities and build up that confidence to where eventually I could get into the gym".

Now, Ashley has a plan and she has a gym membership.

We try to teach my clients how to stay active. That means we need to talk about what you do outside of the studio (yasss cardio).

With that in mind, you might find yourself googling "gyms near me" when you're ready to progress towards your goals. (Dear future clients, I wrote this for you).

Let's talk about gym memberships, how much they cost, and how you can stay active.

Gyms in Columbia MO

  1. ARC - Activity & Recreation Center - For the value, I worked out here for a year and a half and loved it. Located a couple of blocks from Broadway & Stadium Avenue, adult memberships run about $34.50 per month. Bonus; one of three gyms in town with a pool.
  2. CrossFit Fringe - While not technically a "gym", they do a great job if you're comfortable with the environment. Near Stephens Lake Park, unlimited open gym and classes run at around $159 per month.
  3. Moon Yoga - Also, not technically a gym, I just love this place. Moon Yoga starts at around $12 a class. (With membership, classes can get as low as $10)
  4. Wilson's Fitness - Forum - If you're looking for a big, equipment-filled gym in town with a pool, this is it. Membership prices vary based on location, I pay about $52 (potentially grandfathered) for a monthly membership.
  5. Planet Fitness - Starting at $10 per month, this is by far the cheapest gym membership in Columbia, MO. It's clean, the staff is nice and you can make it work for you - if you're okay training without barbells.
  6. Mizzou Rec - I want to love Mizzou Rec-they have all the equipment I need, I went to Mizzou and they're the last place in town with a pool. The downsides are working out around the school closures and confusing membership pricing.
  7. Bonus - Crunch Fitness - Columbia Mo - I cannot personally endorse this gym based on experience. (It's new but it has a lot of equipment and it's cheap).

Related Reading: A Workout plan you follow at Planet Fitness

Is a Gym Membership Worth It?

A gym membership is worth it if you know what you want to get out of it. When you pay for a membership to a local gym, you're paying to meet people and rent space.

Gym equipment can be very expensive. A squat rack on its own can easily cost over $550.

By paying a monthly (or yearly) membership fee, you avoid:

  • Paying upfront for all the machines, weights, and bands.
  • Finding space to house weights and racks (that may stand taller than 9 feet).
  • Maintaining, cleaning, and repairing fitness equipment over time.
  • Eventually, replacing things that break.

In addition to weights and treadmills, gyms are also home to members that you'll develop relationships with over time. If you're looking to stay motivated, developing a sense of community may help hold you accountable.

How Much Does it Cost to Join a Gym?

Gym membership in Columbia will run you anywhere from$10 - $50+ per month.

Depending on what you're looking for, you can find a gym on different sides of town that may suit your needs and budget.

When you pay for a membership at a gym, you want to look at this the same way that you do restaurants:

  • A comfortable restaurant usually has higher menu prices and chairs that are rated for longer sitting hours.
  • Cheaper restaurants usually have uncomfortable chairs as they don't want you to stay long.

Some gyms are large, have more amenities, and therefore, cost more.

Frequently included in the price, some gyms allow access to additional classes and services.

How Can I Get a Discount at the Gym?

If you lock in a long-term membership or pay upfront, most gyms offer some sort of discount.

Some gyms pay a referral bonus if you can get your friends to join. Also, there are typically specials run at the beginning of the year for several months or dollar amount off of regular pricing.

If you know that you're ready to commit to a gym membership, it might be worth your while to wait until around the New Year.

Check with your employer to see if they provide discounted or free gym memberships. Some will often reimburse employees who are looking to improve their health (read productivity).

What Should a Beginner do at the Gym?

A beginner should ask the front desk for a walkthrough when visiting a new gym.

(Most gyms won't just show you how to use the equipment, unfortunately.)

Think about how you want to train and the time of day that you expect to exercise.

If you call, you can often get answers to a few great questions:

  • What kind of equipment does the gym have?
  • How busy is the gym during the hours you wish to workout?
  • Does your gym provide childcare?
  • Are there showers?
  • How long do I need to commit?
  • Maybe - How much is a membership? (Some keep this secret to get you to call/come in).

Every gym will have its own set of rules, hours, and standard operating procedures. Calling ahead can help you feel more comfortable when you walk in.

Is Planet Fitness a Good Gym?

Planet Fitness is a good gym if you're willing to workout without Barbells.

Working with the limitations in equipment, I have written programs for clients that involve all the major movement patterns:

  • Squatting
  • Upper Body Pushing
  • Upper Body Pulling
  • Hinging (Glute Bridges and Romanian Deadlifts)
  • Lunging
  • Loaded Carries

Dumbbells, fixed barbells, and the machines housed at Planet Fitness will allow you to create some sort of training effect involving some sort of exercise variation of the above.

When you're ready to pick out a local gym, keep your budget, schedule, equipment needs, preferences, and anything else you need in mind before committing.

Here's How You Can Search for Gyms in Columbia MO:

  • Figure out what you can afford - A gym membership can cost anywhere from $10 to $50+dollars per month.
  • Decide what you want to have access to - Do you need a pool? Childcare? Yoga classes?
  • Make sure you can easily make it to your gym - You're less likely to go if it is out of your way.
  • Find out what your first day will be like - Some people find mirrors, large spaces, and free weights intimidating, is that a normal sight at the gym you're looking into?
  • Learn more about discounts - Ask the gym if your employer has a relationship with them. Gyms often offer discounts for referrals, upfront payment, and long-term memberships.

Get Help Before Venturing into a Gym

Phone: 1-573-443-1495

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This article was originally published on 8/3/20.

Last updated: 7/29/22

Steven Mack is founder and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the private training studio, Simple Solutions Fitness. He consults for Stronger by Science, a leader in fitness research dissemination, and is a former Mizzou football walk-on. Steven dedicates his professional life to helping people through his writing, speaking, and role as a personal trainer.