The Prime Buyer's Report

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Prime Buyers Guide Health Clubs & Fitness Studios

How to Find the Best Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA

Most of us spend a lot of time sitting. When you've had enough of the sedentary life and want to firm up your muscles, tone your body and perhaps increase your fitness with Pilates, aerobics programs, weight training, spinning classes, nautilus machines or more, it's time to find good health clubs in Marin County. Several good fitness centers offer personal trainers in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA, while others are class scheduled fitness studios.

The following research by The Prime Buyer's Report identifies the best fitness centers in Marin County and issues related to health clubs & fitness studios.

Updated September 28, 2013

 The TOP 10 Health Clubs & Fitness Studios in Marin County CA

Elan Fitness Center
(415) 485-1945
230 Greenfield Ave
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Areas Served: San Rafael CA, San Anselmo, Woodacre, Larkspur, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Santa Venetia

Club 1
(415) 507-1010
111 Mcinnis Pkwy
Terra Linda, CA 94903

Areas Served: San Rafael, San Anselmo, Woodacre, Fairfax, Kentfield, Larkspur, Greenbrae

Form Body Studio
(415) 457-3676
1000 5th Ave # B
San Rafael, CA 94901

Areas Served: San Rafael, Larkspur, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Woodacre, Kentfield

Ultimate Fitness
(415) 380-8033
457 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Areas Served: Corte Madera, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon, Belvedere, Marin City, Almonte

Meridian Sports Club
(415) 897-2185
351 San Andreas Dr
Novato, CA 94945

Meridian Sports Club
(415) 459-8668
1001 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901

Areas Served: San Rafael, Larkspur, Woodacre, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Kentfield, Forest Knolls

How to Find the Best Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA 

 

There is no state license required for fitness centers in Marin County and so no state standard for safety or competency. Likewise, there is no legal requirement that they have liability insurance from which you can be reimbursed if you suffer an injury due to a mistake or negligence, however all  health clubs or fitness centers bearing The Prime Buyer's ReportTOP 10 symbol do have that liability insurance for your protection, in addition to passing all of the other requirements for Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 status such as survey phone calls to previous members to verify high satisfaction, sufficient length of time in business, clean complaint record, hiring only employees legal to work in the U.S., and more. 

 

Fitness in Marin County CA

The local gym was once the domain of only professional boxers or sweaty weight lifters. It was not a place most people—especially women—went. In fact, most people didn't actually do much regular exercise. In the seventies and eighties that began to change as people's consciousness began to focus on health and natural living. The running (jogging) craze hit and aerobics classes became very popular. People who had never heard of yoga began attending yoga classes. Richard Simmons broke out the short shorts. Leg warmers appeared on women's legs across America, even when they were just going to the grocery store.

Fitness and fitness wear became a new fashion statement. And to answer this craving for healthy living, businesses began popping up in towns across America. They didn't call themselves gymnasiums any more (though doing so might have brought even more business—the original meaning of the Greek word gymnasium was to "exercise naked"). These new businesses called themselves health clubs or family fitness centers. Offering a safe, convenient place to use weight-lifting equipment, attend exercise classes with like-minded friends and perhaps lose a few pounds, health clubs became, for many, a part of daily life.

A Variety of Exercise Programs Available at Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA
Health clubs and fitness centers in Marin County have come a long way. The range of options has widened from weight training and aerobic classes to encompass every special interest a client may have. There is equipment that specifically targets cardio training, getting the heart rate up, nutritional programs with certified nutritionists, personal trainers who will work with you individually to address specific needs and goals, yoga classes, spin classes, therapeutic saunas and hot tubs, Jazzercize, massage, tai chi classes, physical therapy, recuperative classes, adapted physical education and more.

Some of the best health clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA have broadened their offerings to include indoor rock wall climbing, aerobic kick boxing, group cycling on modern exercise bikes and treadmills (often with televisions so you can watch your favorite show while exercising) children's exercise and fitness programs, martial arts, racquetball, basketball and even boxing, hearkening back to the old-school gyms where it all started.

Some health clubs offer special seniors-only or women-only classes, specifically designed for that demographic for comfort and privacy. Most health clubs offer free weights as well as exercise and weight machines. Most gyms offer the services of personal, certified fitness trainers who will show you the proper use of the machines and help you, based on your weight and experience, design an exercise program tailored just for you. Many health centers are open 24 hours a day.

Other health clubs offer Pilates classes in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA to strengthen muscles at the body's core. Pilates training is one of the most popular exercise methods in the world and is known to improve flexibility and create lean, strong muscles. Because of its low-impact fitness routines and emphasis on gentle body conditioning, the Pilates method is effective for people of all ages and of various physical abilities.

Some Pilates studios in Marin County area teach Pilates mat work classes, which are performed on the floor without equipment or with small exercise props. Other gyms feature Pilates equipment, which use a system of pulleys, springs and body weight for resistance training. The most common piece of Pilates apparatus is the Reformer, and other equipment and props used in Pilates exercises include the Magic Circle, small weighted balls, foam rollers, large exercise balls and resistance bands.

Different Pilates teachers have modified the original Pilates technique, so various Pilates methods are offered at the fitness studios in Marin County, including Fletcher Pilates, an innovative exercise program based on the original Pilates matwork, Stott Pilates, which incorporates contemporary exercise techniques and emphasizes rehabilitation, Power Pilates, a classic method taught by Pilates instructors, Winsor Pilates, which is faster-paced and includes some cardio benefits, and Gyrotronic Pilates, which offers full range of motion exercises by incorporating Pilates movements on a Gyrotronic machine.

Gym Memberships at Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA
Most Marin County health clubs offer memberships. Typically, in order to use their facilities, one must pay an initial sign-up fee, then a monthly fee thereafter. Memberships may vary widely depending on how often you wish to come and what services you are seeking. Marin County health clubs and fitness centers often run special introductory prices so be sure to ask. Many offer complimentary guest passes, or steeply reduced start-up rates, allowing you to try them out once or twice before committing.

Good health clubs and fitness centers provide a way to utilize the latest equipment and fitness trends without having to buy that equipment and have it sitting in your living room. They are a great place to socialize while staying healthy, and they provide the incentive to continue your healthy lifestyle.


Personal Fitness Trainers in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA

Fitness trainers or personal trainers in Marin County CA are people who give you personalized attention and motivation to help you reach your fitness goals. The quality of personal fitness trainers varies widely. Standard health clubs often give you an option to sign on with a personal fitness trainer. Other fitness trainers freelance and are hired by you directly, not through a particular health club. 

Fitness Studios in Marin County
Fitness studios are different from health clubs or gyms in that they are often not "come-and-go" like a gym, meaning you attend the fitness studio for scheduled sessions either in small groups or for individual sessions with a personal fitness trainer.

Some Health Clubs in Marin County Are Much Better than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists these health clubs in Marin County CA: Meridian Sports Club, Elan Fitness Center, Form Body Studio, Meridian Sports Club, Club 1, Ultimate Fitness, Meridians Sports Club/Bodies In Motion, Curves‎, Curves. Other fitness centers in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA that might still be in business include: Nautilus of Marin, Proctor's Fitness Center, Healthworks Total Fitness. Didn't find what you wanted with the TOP 10 Health Clubs & Fitness Studios in Marin County? Then click here to see additional companies in this category.

 

 

 

How to Choose the Best Health Clubs in Marin County CA 

In general, most people who join health clubs are motivated by one of two reasons: They want to tone up and be healthier, or they are recovering from an injury, surgery, or other health issue. These goals often go together, of course, but it's important to know what your goals are before choosing a health club. Trainers and exercise professionals often have very different approaches to the same stated goals. Your objective is to find the health club that most closely matches your goals and your comfort level. Sit down and write out exactly what you're hoping to accomplish by joining a health club, even if you're not completely sure. That way, when you go in, you'll be able to give each health club representative the same list of goals. This will make it easier for you to compare their responses to your consistent description.

Although many health clubs in Marin County may have similar equipment and classes, there are differences of style, temperament and interest. Some don't have a lot of compassion for those just starting out; some emphasize comfort and privacy. Ideally the health club representative will show a great deal of interest and ask relevant questions, perhaps pointing out things you hadn't yet considered. If, after meeting them, you've gotten a good initial impression, ask some questions about the club's facilities and credentialing. Use the list of questions below as a guideline to develop your own.


• How long have the fitness centers' trainers and employees been in the health club industry?

• How many members do each of the Marin County health clubs have?

• What are the hours the health clubs are open?

• Are there "peak" hours of use at the health centers?

• Do the health clubs provide child care?

• Will someone at the health clubs be able to train you on the use of the exercise equipment? Does this cost more?

• What does the gym membership fee include? (personal training, classes, pool, towel service, lockers, childcare, etc.)

• Are there extra costs for additional services at the Marin County health clubs?

• Can you speak with members of the health clubs and ask them questions before you join?

• Is there a certain time-frame minimum at the gyms or can you quit anytime?

• Are the trainers/employees at each of the Marin County health clubs trained in first-aid and CPR?

• What industry certifications do the personal trainers at the health centers have?


Through this question-and-answer period, consider first impressions, the cleanliness and overall look of the health club, experience levels and compatible styles. Visit the health clubs at different times. Many fitness centers have high-density use times or "peak" hours.  Are there long lines at equipment during the times you would be at the gyms in Marin County CA? Do the health clubs offer a wide enough variety of equipment types to help you achieve your fitness goals?

When you've chosen the health club most suitable for you, make sure they are experienced enough to meet your fitness goals. Before you sign up, insist that there be a written contract that details pricing and all details of the gym membership, including how to opt out should you change your mind.

 

 

Tips for Choosing Good Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA 

Take Time Choosing Between Marin County Health Clubs.
Whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish by joining a health club, take your time choosing. Different gyms and fitness centers have different skill sets, specialties and experience so it's important to be sure the health club you choose can actually provide you with what you need to achieve your goals. If you shop around a little you'll have better odds of finding the right fitness club for you.

Write Down Your Fitness Goals.
Think about the fitness goals you have in mind. What do you want to do? Tone up? Change your entire lifestyle? Restore your health? Write everything down that comes to mind. That way you'll be able to hand each health club representative a clear, consistent summary of what you're after.  If you give each health club the same information, it will be easier to compare apples to apples when you learn what each has to offer.

Talk to and Visit Several Gyms in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA.
It's not about just finding the lowest price, or nearest-to-work location. Comparison shopping for pricing help you get an idea of the median price for gym memberships and it will give you a chance to sound out the personalities and policies and customer service of the different health clubs before joining. It will also give you a chance to see the facility and get an impression of whether or not you'd be comfortable there.

Get the Gym Membership Terms in Writing.
Nothing is official until it is written and signed. So insist that the health club you choose provides you with a detailed document that describes the pricing in detail. Make sure you understand what you're agreeing to. Is it a month-to-month fitness club membership? An annual gym membership? (Don't sign up for a lifetime gym membership: They are illegal in most states.) Three-quarters of the states have specific legislation regarding the maximum length of health club contracts and provisions for cancellation. There is usually a "cooling off" period offered on all contracts, typically three days, during which you can cancel your agreement without penalty. Be sure you understand the cancellation provisions in the contract. To learn more, call the California State Department of Consumer Affairs. (See our article, "Resources About Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA).

Do Your Homework Before Joining a Marin County CA Health Club.
To narrow down your choices, do some detective work. Research the club's licensing, insurance and reputation. See if there have been complaints about the health club with the Better Business Bureau. To help with this, see our article: Resources About Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA. Verify all of this information before signing the contract.

 

 

Health Clubs in Marin County Offer Many of the Best Exercise Equipment and Brands 

Health clubs in Marin County CA offer many of the best exercise equipment and brands including Bowflex, Nautilus, Precor USA, NordicTrack, Advanced Fitness, Inc., HealthRider, Inc., Cybex International, Inc., Eloton Exercise Equipment, Sohn, Benter Ball, Cableflex, Butt Blaster, Cardiosport, Orbitrek, TrackMaster, StairMaster, Sportline, Jumpking, Empower, Altus, Variflex, Valeo, Powertec, Infiniti Fitness, Textrix, Unisen, Scifit, Versa, Intek Strength, Sportsart and Quinton.

 

 

Resources About Health Clubs in Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael CA 


Regulatory Bodies & Trade Associations Health Clubs & Fitness Centers in Marin County
BBB Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.com/)
DCA California Department of Consumer Affairs (www.dca.ca.gov)
Diamond Certified http://www.diamondcertified.org/
Consumer Reports on Health (http://www.consumerreports.org/oh/index.htm)



Media Related to Health Clubs in Marin County

National Health and Wellness Club (http://www.healthandwellnessclub.com/)
International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association (http://cms.ihrsa.org/)
President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (http://www.fitness.gov/)
National Gym Association (http://www.nationalgym.com/nga/index.php)
National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (http://www.ncpad.org/)
Association of Women's Fitness (http://www.association-of-womens-fitness.org/)
PRO Pulse Magazine (http://public.proclub.com/PROPulseMagazine/tabid/77/Default.aspx)
Club Solutions Magazine (www.clubsolutionsmagazine.com)
Natural Health Magazine(www.naturalhealthmag.com)
Women's Health Magazine (www.womenshealthmag.com)
Men's Fitness Magazine (www.mensfitness.com)



The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Health Clubs in Marin County within the following zip codes:

94971, 94930, 94963, 94920, 94904, 94914, 94903, 94946, 94933, 94937, 94925, 94950, 94939, 94957, 94941, 94938, 94924, 94970, 94929, 94942, 94948, 94945, 94956, 94901, 94947, 94976, 94964, 94915, 94973, 94977, 94966, 94960, 94978, 94979, 94913, 94949, 94965, 94940, 94974 and 94912

 

The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Health Clubs in Marin County within the following cities:

Fairfax, Mission Rafael, Sausalito, Ignacio, San Marin, Woodacre, Inverness, Belvedere, Black Point, Strawberry Point, Tiburon, Dogtown, Belvedere Tiburon, Kent Woodlands, Almonte, Point Reyes Station, Forest Knolls, Tamal, Muir Beach, Dillon Beach, Sleepy Hollow, Mill Valley, Nicasio, Larkspur, Bel Marin Keys, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, Olema, Marshall, San Quentin, Santa Venetia, Corte Madera, Lucas Valley, Bolinas, Tomales, Ross, Marinwood, Greenbrae, Muir Woods, San Rafael, Lagunitas, Tamalpais Valley, Novato, Stinson Beach, Marin City, Terra Linda and Kentfield