TLDR: My choice of the best gym in Christchurch is Cityfitness
UPDATE 30 August 2019: After finishing my free trial at Anytime I decided it wasn’t for me. It was just too cramped, even when half empty and a lot of the gear felt old. It’s a shame because the staff were nice and the place felt welcoming. Interestingly enough, they didn’t follow up with me after the trial for at least a couple of weeks, which, while strange, is a refreshing change from the likes of Les Mills that hound you to death. So I’m back at Cityfitness now. Still the best in my opinion.
UPDATE 13 June 2019: After being with Cityfitness for over four years, I’m giving Anytime Fitness Cashmere a go to see how they compare. So far it’s been an easy, friendly experience – will let you know how I think they compare after a month. It’s definitely smaller and more expensive than Cityfitness but they have a good range of equipment from what I can tell. ps Cityfitness are continuing to grow with another two new gyms planned for Christchurch – Burnside opens tomorrow (no joining fee special) and Colombo St is due to open in September 2019.
UPDATE 11 December 2018: Cityfitness have just opened new facilities in Wigram, which will be operational from January 5, 2019. They’re offering a zero joining fee special until then (normally $49) so get in quick if you’re thinking about it. It’s the same size as the current Moorhouse gym (floorspace) with 120 carparks and all the features of the other clubs – 24/7 access, group fitness, cycle studio etc.
UPDATE 22 August 2018: It finally looks like there’s a competitor aiming itself squarely at the budget gym market currently dominated by Cityfitness. Affinity are currently building a new gym on Blenheim Rd (down the road from Cityfitness Moorhouse, and due to open this month) and are boasting plenty of space and brand new equipment (which is good because a friend of mine at Affinity says the current stuff is pretty worn and outdated).
Just how much “space” everyone will have remains to be seen as their prices are sharp – almost as good as Cityfitness – so they may end up with crowding issues. I also don’t know if they have free parking like Cityfitness (and I’m perfectly happy there anyway) so I won’t be switching, but there may be some making the move.
UPDATE 16 May 2018: Just received an invite to the ex-members of QEII pre-launch preview of Taiora: QEII Recreation and Sport Centre before it opens to the public on Queens Birthday weekend. Pretty keen to take a look but happy to stay where I am at Cityfitness – but will report back with any updates on what the gym is like at QEII in case it’s a bit more convenient for you.
UPDATE 9 Oct 2017: Another 18 months at Cityfitness, still there, still enjoying it, still only paying $7/week. In that time, I have a lot of friends here at the office joining up, leaving their current gym as they realise they can get a very premium experience at Cityfitness for a fraction of the price (it seems other gyms haven’t got the message their prices just aren’t reasonable). Well done Cityfitness for not making $$$ a barrier for people who want to do something about their health.
UPDATE 1 Feb 2016: It’s almost been a full year at Cityfitness and I continue to be very impressed with the facilities, the price and the service. In the last few months they’ve even made the (very) cheap $7/week membership better with 24 hour access and the option of using any other Cityfitness club around the country.
They continue to keep the equipment to a high standard (even if we did lose the mens sauna at Moorhouse – wasnt their fault however) and all the trainers and gym goers are a very friendly bunch. Still two thumbs up from me! If you’d like to check it out get in touch and I can check with the manager to show you round sometime.
UPDATE 1 July 2015: I’ve now been a member at Cityfitness (Moorhouse) for around two months and very impressed – and pleasantly surprised.
Generally when it comes to choosing a gym I’m attracted by price and I lower my expectations accordingly – I don’t need anything fancy (read: pretentious), I just want to get in there, do my thing and move on.
Cityfitness have the great prices (ended up going with the Black membership as it means I can bring a friend) but they’re no bottom-tier gym either. Undercover parking, 24-hour access, showers with soap dispensers, saunas, boxing circuit, heaps of quality gear and a lot of space – there’s nothing budget about this place.
To top it off their staff are brilliant – well-trained, knowledgeable and super-friendly, I get a hi and bye and it’s little things like that that turn you from a satisfied customer to a raving fan.
UPDATE 28 April 2015: Since I wrote this review of Christchurch gyms almost four years ago the landscape has changed (literally in some cases). Along with the rebuild we’re seeing new gyms popping up and one of them is Cityfitness with a gym in Northwood and one near the city centre on Moorhouse Ave. I’m looking to join up there soon since it’s close to work so I can provide a more qualified opinion on how good or bad it is but for now I can say it’s easily the cheapest particularly if you go for their 12-month Basic membership at just $7 a week. They also have a Black Card membership that allows you to bring a guest each time for $14 a week, which is a great option if you have a regular gym buddy.
UPDATE 21 August 2013: It’s been two years to the day since I last updated this post on the best gym in Christchurch and my opinion hasn’t changed – the council run gyms still offer the best value, the best equipment, the best range of options and the friendliest trainers around (especially Randall at the new Parklands fitness centre – make sure you check out his daily motivational quotes…). Their prices did go up last year but are still far cheaper than what you’d pay elsewhere, and they offer a fixed 12 month price or a flexible month-by-month option.
Now that QE2 and Centennial have been demolished, the Parklands Fitness Centre is looking more permanent and provides a great option for Christchurch residents in the eastern suburbs. There are also plans underway for a city centre sports facility, near the Christchurch hospital adjacent to Hagley Park.
UPDATE 21 August 2011: With the earthquakes around here it’s changed a few things but in my opinion the best gym in Christchurch is still the council gyms – best value, best availability (a lot of other gyms closed after the quake) and best facilities. The council gyms at Centennial and QE2 are still closed and have an uncertain future but a council gym has just opened in Parklands (to temporarily replace QE2) and one is soon to be opening in Papanui (Graham Condon).
What’s the best gym in Christchurch? Well I guess that depends who you ask and where in Christchurch you live. Obviously if you live in Rolleston the best gym in Christchurch isn’t at the far end of Rangiora. And if you’re not keen on the inner-city park hunt (hunting unicorns is easier) then Les Mills on Cashel St probably won’t suit. So, sure it’s a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question but I’ve gymed in Christchurch for the last few years at a few different gyms, so I’ve got a qualified opinion I can share.
There’s a lot of gyms in Christchurch. I don’t know exactly how many that is per capita (a quick Yellow Pages search shows up 51 including Rangiora, so that’s roughly one gym per 9,000 people. Now I think about it I should be glad that not everyone feels the need to hit the gym – particularly all at once. I don’t like having to queue to use a swiss ball or a pair of 6kg hand weights (yep get out of town Arnie I’m pumping 6kg and I can do it without hardly breaking a sweat!).
Speaking of numbers, the other thing that the gym has going for it is that of those 9,000 people, only about 500 might actually join a gym, and then of those 500 only about 100 use the gym regularly. Which means you really don’t need to worry about queuing up to use equipment at most gyms, particularly if you stay away from peak hours (usually Mondays around 7.30pm). Those numbers are not based on any scientific data but it’s a good theory and I’m sticking to it.
I’m currently with the CCC gyms (which includes a number of Christchurch gyms including Pioneer Leisure Centre, QE2, Jellie Park and Centennial Leisure Centre). Their multi membership allows full access to not only the gym but also the pools, saunas, spas and running track at QE2. A 12 month multi will set you back $595, which represents pretty good value especially compared with other gyms such as Les Mills which will charge you around $160 a month for a 6-month contract (plus a $99 joining fee, although there are often $1 joining specials). The longer your contract is the cheaper it is, up to a 36-month contract but obviously there’s the risk you’ll only go for a few weeks and then decide the cheesecake factory is more your thing (yes, Moata I’m talking to you – do you know there are 523 search results for “moata cheesecake”?) then obviously it can be costly to break or transfer your passing fancy with fitness to the next hopeful, which is generally a win for the gym and often what they bank on a percentage of members doing – otherwise there gyms would have to be a whole lot bigger!
Another a gym I spent a few months at last year was the Clarendon Health Club, and, at about $1,000 a year, I was glad it was complimentary courtesy of my boss. Nothing wrong with it, good facilities and a bunch of very friendly people who remembered your name and organised free drinks every now and then. Brilliant. The gym itself was relatively small and some of the equipment a little old, and there wasn’t the biggest range of free weights. The showers were brilliant, not to mention the warm towels and toiletries provided but I couldn’t help feeling that it was more a destination for the ‘suits’ to network, which is fine if that’s what you’re after but not for me mostly because I didn’t have any success networking with Theresa G when she came in for her morning cross-training session.
The CCC gyms are fine for me, and seem to be improving all the time with more floor space, extra classes (if you’ve got the Zumba itch) and they’ve just bought a whole lot of new equipment so it gets two thumbs up from me. The atmosphere is relaxed, there’s no posers (except for me of course, sometimes there just aren’t enough mirrors [jokes]) and the hours are good (except sometimes it would be nice if they were open a bit later than the 6 o’clock closing times on the weekend). Having all the other facilities there like the pools works out pretty well too.
If you do join a gym I’d recommend getting the 12 month multi – not only does it give you access to everything on offer but if you’re like me you’ll want to get your money’s worth and so a 12 month membership will keep you motivated. Remember the first 6 weeks are the hardest – after that you won’t be able to go more than a few days without getting your gym fix. Endorphins anyone?
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