Equinox; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
- Equinox Fitness has established itself as the go-to luxury fitness location in major US cities and around the world.
- There are 34 Equinox locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and I worked out at all of them to see if their airtight brand identity lived up to its reputation.
- I found that most of the gyms, even at the base level, provide an elevated experience compared with other brands, but there were definitely some that are not worth the price alone.
- My favorite gym was the Sports Club, which is part of Equinox’s middle-tier membership.
- Equinox’s top-tier locations provided a superb experience, but the $500 per month price tag with a $750 initiation fee doesn’t seem worth it unless you have excessive amounts of cash and can afford personal training every week of the year.
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In New York City, going to Equinox, a high-end gym chain, is an undeniable signal of status. They have expertly crafted a brand that truly evokes luxury, sex, and wellness even when brought up in casual conversation.
The gyms are notoriously expensive — Equinox’s top membership costs $500 per month with a $750 initiation fee — and it’s not uncommon to hear people quip that they can’t afford it.
For a long time, that reputation kept me away, but in February, with my local Williamsburg gym membership feeling a bit ragged, I decided to dip my toe into Equinox’s waters.
What I discovered was a vast network of gyms at various price points with different amenities, aesthetics, and services.
Paying for a single gym can cost anywhere between $185 and $220 per month, typically with a $300 initiation fee, varying by gym and offers available. An "All Access" membership costs $260 per month plus a $500 initiation fee and gives you a membership at all 29 regular locations in New York City and clubs nationally, but doesn’t allow access to premium "E" clubs, Sports Clubs, or other special locations. A destination membership allows you access to all clubs except for E clubs and costs $300 per month on top of a $500 initiation fee. And an E membership gives you access to all clubs, costing $500 per month on top of a $750 initiation fee.
During the enrollment process, the scope of options left me a bit baffled — How was I supposed to choose to have access to a set of gyms that I’ve never been to?
So, I decided to embark on a nearly two-month journey exploring all of Equinox’s offerings in New York City. I worked out at all 34 Equinox locations in the city (not counting Long Island or Westchester).
Here’s an overall guide to Equinox memberships in New York, what every location is like, and my personal rating of every gym out of 10.
Equinox has 29 locations in Brooklyn and New York that are accessible with their $260 a month "all access" membership.
Benjamin Goggin / Business Insider
Compared with other popular gym chains in New York City, only New York Sports Clubs has more total locations (49) in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. While Crunch and Planet Fitness have an abundance of locations in Brooklyn and Queens, Equinox has focused on Manhattan locations.
Equinox’s core amenities include cardio equipment, strength equipment, Khiel’s products in the locker rooms, a steam room, showers, a cycling studio, and a group fitness studio. Some base-level gyms have other features like boxing rooms, barre rooms, heated yoga rooms, and pools.
Downtown Manhattan has a lot of fancy new locations geared toward young wealth.
Nearly all of the Equinox locations in Downtown Manhattan had a unique feel, seemingly catering to the younger crowd that lives and works below 40th street.
Bond Street: A spacious playground for NoHo bros.
Courtesy of Equinox
Built in the 2016 Equinox boom, the year the company built or acquired five different locations in New York City, the Bond Street location is large, spacious, has tons of natural light, and has a strong aesthetic centered around its red brick interior.
Its three functional fitness floors had ample room for stretching and all the necessary equipment without feeling cramped. Each time I visited, it didn’t feel crowded, but there was also a ton of space if needed — Yelp reviewers testify that the after-work rush can get crazy.
When I visited, the crowd tended to be a mix of fitness obsessives in the late 20s to early 30s, and fashionable women in their 40s and 50s.
In my heated yoga class, nearly everyone left all their clothes on — a far cry from other Bikram-style classes I’ve taken at studios where practitioners show up nearly naked. This probably had less to do with the location and more to do with the nature of Equinox classes, where everyone is a dabbler.
The locker rooms felt like huge dungeons in the basement — in a chic way — but the steam room was notably small, and the on/off button on the digital scale was physically punched out somehow.
"Queer Eye’s" Antoni Porowski, who is a sponsored brand ambassador, and Anderson Cooper have been photographed here multiple times.
Bond Street gets 7.5/10 for a spacious and open design and good light.
- I immersed myself in Equinox’s world of eucalyptus towels and infrared saunas to discover why people drop thousands of dollars on a gym membership
- I stayed in an abandoned grain silo that was transformed into one of the trendiest boutique hotels in the world, and it definitely lived up to the hype
- The tallest residential building in NYC just listed its first condos, and the priciest is a $63 million unit on the 112th floor. Here’s what the Billionaires’ Row tower will look like when it’s finished in 2020.