Best of the Best: Top Gyms in the Nation

State-of-the-art equipment, innovative classes, on-site salons, rooftop lounges and car washes -- if the fitness world had its own Oscars, we would nominate these ultra-luxe locales.
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By SELF Staffers, SELF

State-of-the-art equipment, innovative classes, on-site salons, rooftop lounges and car washes -- if the fitness world had its own Oscars, we would nominate these ultra-luxe locales.

Pure Austin Fitness Quarry Lake
Courtesy of Pure Austin Fitness
Austin, Texas

Outdoorsy types will find a lot to love about this gym, which overlooks its own private lake, encircled by a running trail. When you're not strengthening your core in a paddleboard-yoga class or on the stunning two-story rock-climbing wall, you can watch the action unfold out of the gym's soaring windows or from the cycling and yoga deck. Next trip, we'll visit a grocery store with a staff R.D. for a personalized nutrition session.
--Reporting by Jolène Bouchon
220 Fitness
Courtesy of
Santa Monica, California

There's a neighborhood vibe at 220 Fitness -- your boxing instructor knows as much about your kitchen remodel as he does about your one-armed plank. The no-frills locale packs a surprising amount into a small space: a well-equipped gym, a studio for classes, a boxing program and indoor/outdoor spaces for weight lifting, yoga, personal training and circuit work (how long has it been since you've flipped a 4x4 tire?). Try Dan's addictive Strengthen and Lengthen class (barrelike moves that you hold for... ever).
--Reporting by Molly Creeden
ClubSport Oregon
Courtesy of
Tigard, Oregon

A soaring rock wall with 75 routes greets you at this fitness powerhouse just outside Portland. Equally impressive is the high-altitude training studio, where recreational exercisers and pro athletes alike improve their speed and endurance by doing drills in a low-oxygen room. We geeked out in the CompuTrainer studio, where cyclists and triathletes get high-tech feedback on their effort and heart rate. There are also agility ladders, a turf field, a three-lane track and a lap pool, plus an outdoor lounge pool.
--Reporting by Lindsey Emery
Concourse Athletic Club
Courtesy of

We worked up a fierce burn doing dynamic strength moves on state-of-the-art FreeMotion and Cybex circuit machines under the watchful eyes of National Academy of Sports Medicine–certified trainers. But all we really wanted to do was explore this ritzy, grown-up playground with lake views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. CAC members strengthen their bodies through such activities as tennis lessons on clay courts, pickup games of squash and racquetball, and laps in the heated indoor and outdoor saltwater pools. The grill upstairs made us feel like we were at a country-club snack bar -- except with healthy options like ahi tuna salad.
--Reporting by Stephanie Davis Smith
David Barton Gym at the Limelight
Courtesy of
New York City

The edgy fitness mainstay just opened a studio in a 19th-century church, with stained-glass windows filtering colorful sunbeams into the otherwise dim space. We prayed for mercy in classes like Fight Club (kickboxing HIIT) and Pleasure and Pain (intervals). The extensive schedule of evening classes and the social after-work crowd make it an energizing hangout after a long day at the office.
--Reporting by Meg Lappe
East Bank Club
Courtesy of East Bank Club

Welcome to nirvana for fitness lovers. A sprawling cardio-and-strength area with 450 pieces of equipment meant we never had to wait for a turn. And when the treadmill turned dull, we opted for loops on the quarter-mile indoor track. EBC is adding hot-yoga rooms alongside its cycling, pilates and dance classes; there's also an indoor driving range, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts and a turf field for agility drills. Post-run, we relaxed in the spa and nap room, though we passed up the chance to have our car washed in the on-site parking lot.
Reporting by Jessica Migala
Equinox Union Street
Courtesy of
San Francisco

The newest outpost of this popular chain is housed in a historic 1930s theater with sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Cardio kick and shockwave classes felt like a performance (without the stage fright), as we punched, jabbed and kicked in the theater's former main stage area. (In an homage to the space's previous incarnation, Equinox hosts movie nights once a month.) Upstairs, power Vinyasa and barre classes take place beneath soothing skylights. We left feeling refreshed after cooling off with a chilled, eucalyptus-infused towel and sipping a fresh-pressed recovery juice from the Earthbar Café downstairs.
--Reporting by Jenna Scatena
Gold's Gym
Courtesy of

We would've been happy just enjoying the endorphin rush after our heart-racing, quads-quivering CardioBounce class (incorporating plyometric drills on individual trampolines), but instead, our Gold's Gym instructor persuaded us to do some bonus work in her core-strengthening class. Those who prefer solo workouts to a group vibe will love the Cardio Cinema, a cavernous, dark studio filled with ellipticals, bikes, treadmills and other calorie-sizzling machines, as well as a full-size movie screen featuring newly released films to keep you going for that extra mile. (We could definitely get used to working out alongside Ben Affleck.)
--Reporting by Jennifer Fink
Institute of Human Performance
Courtesy of
Boca Raton, Florida

Because IHP is a testing site for the industry's top fitness-equipment manufacturers, clients get first crack at cutting-edge technologies. We worked on our golf swing with equipment that measured our power in watts, and took advantage of the full line of Kinesis machines (their special resistance cables allow for greater range of motion). But IHP also uses old-school tricks: During one class, we hit the parking lot for boot camp drills -- like pushing our trainer's SUV.
--Reporting by Emily Harris
VIDA Fitness–U Street
Courtesy of Vida Fitness
Washington, D.C.

Yes, you'll find a full fitness-class schedule, more than 100 cardio machines and free weights galore. But it's the concierge-style perks that set this gym apart. After our morning session on the treadmill, we handed our damp gym clothes over to VIDA's laundry service, then got a prework blowout at the in-house salon. Dietitians are on call should you want a consultation, and the spa opens at 9 a.m. for après-workout rubdowns. Next time, we'll hit the rooftop lounge.
--Reporting by Caroline Cunningham
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