24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness are two large chain gyms in the US. LA Fitness continues to expand, but the growth of 24 Hour Fitness has slowed substantially over the past couple of years. However, the two gyms are very similar, and if you have both near you, it can be difficult to figure out which one is better for you.
So, is 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness a better gym? Both gyms are similar in many aspects, but I recommend 24 Hour Fitness over LA Fitness. It’s more expensive, but it has more convenient hours, better equipment, and more membership options. The only major drawback is that it doesn’t have as many locations as LA Fitness.
Joining a gym that’s not a good fit for you and your goals can leave you frustrated and unmotivated to go, which means you’ll just be wasting your money. When you’re trying to decide between two gyms, it’s important to evaluate them from multiple angles to ensure you make the right choice.
In this article, I’ll compare 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness to see how they stack up when it comes to cost, equipment, amenities, and more. By the end, you’ll be able to make a confident decision about which one will get you the results you want.
24 Hour Fitness Overview
24 Hour Fitness has been a popular chain gym in the US since the 1980s. Although many of its locations have been closing over the past couple of years, it’s still the second-largest chain gym in the country in terms of revenue.
Aside from being available 24/7, 24 Hour Fitness has an excellent assortment of equipment, including barbells and plates from high-quality brands like Rogue and Eleiko. It also has large turf areas for functional fitness, group classes, virtual and in-person personal training, and plenty of cardio machines, making it an excellent place to work out regardless of your goals.
- Barbells and bumper plates from Rogue and Eleiko
- 24/7 access
- Can use your membership at GoodLife Fitness and Energie Cardio, two Canadian gyms
- Can purchase short-term memberships if necessary
- Good selection of amenities
- Qualified personal trainers
- Not a lot of locations in the US
- Some locations are untidy and disorganized
LA Fitness Overview
LA Fitness was founded in California in the 1980s and soon began expanding into other parts of the US. It opened its first Canadian location in 2010 and launched a new brand called Esporta Fitness, a budget-friendly alternative, in 2020.
LA Fitness is a middle-of-the-line gym, with prices that are reasonable for most people. It also boasts a huge selection of equipment and some free amenities.
The personal trainers at LA Fitness aren’t known to be the best, and some locations aren’t well-maintained. But if your local club is well-run and you’re not interested in personal training, it’s a great place to work out regardless of your experience level or goals.
- Large assortment of cardio machines, selectorized machines, and free weights
- Chalk is allowed at most locations
- Most group classes are included with your membership
- Can use your membership at multiple locations depending on which plan you get
- Lots of amenities including pools, saunas, and childcare
- Cleanliness may be an issue at some locations
- Not open 24/7
24 Hour Fitness vs LA Fitness: 10 Differences
While cost alone shouldn’t necessarily be the deciding factor when you’re trying to choose between two gyms, it is one of the most important things to consider. You’ll need to make sure you can afford the monthly dues as well as extra fees like taxes, annual fees, and initiation fees.
24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness has a bit of a complicated pricing structure, with multiple plans available. You can choose from plans that offer national, regional, or single-club access and opt to pay monthly or in full.
Monthly costs are anywhere from $35 to $56.99 depending on where you live and which plan you get. With most memberships, you’ll also have to pay a $49 annual fee.
At LA Fitness, you can get either a Multi Club membership or a Single Club membership. The price is $34.99/month plus taxes for either one, though your exact cost may vary based on your location.
Cost-wise, the biggest difference between the two plans is that the Multi Club plan requires a $49 annual fee while the Single Club plan does not. However, both plans require a $49 initiation fee.
You’ll also have to pay your first and last months’ dues when you sign up, which means your upfront cost can be as much as $119.
Even though 24 Hour Fitness does have a membership plan option that costs just $35/month, the rest of its offerings can be complicated. Go with LA Fitness if you’re looking for a gym with reasonable prices and straightforward membership plans.
2. Contract Length
Gyms typically offer month-to-month or annual contracts, but some gyms offer short-term contracts as well. Before you settle on a gym, you should think carefully about how long of a commitment you’re willing to make.
24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness offers month-to-month, one-year, and two-year contracts. If you’re not planning on keeping your membership for a long time, you can also buy a one-week, one-month, or three-month contract.
LA Fitness offers month-to-month and annual contracts. But if you’re not willing to make a long-term commitment, you can sign up for a six-month contract instead.
Both gyms have annual and month-to-month plans, but 24 Hour Fitness wins since it also has short-term plans available.
This may seem obvious, but making sure your preferred gym has the equipment you need for your workouts is essential. You should also make sure there’s enough of it to go around so you don’t have to wait for machines to become available during busy times.
It’s also good to make sure there’s a large variety of equipment if you ever want to switch up your routine or your goals change in the future.
24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness has treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, rowers, and step climbers. It also has plenty of cable and plate-loaded machines for isolating specific muscle groups.
24 Hour Fitness has barbells and bumper plates from Rogue and Eleiko as well as dumbbells, trap bars, EZ curl bars, and prefixed barbells. You can find at least two squat racks and lifting platforms, but most locations have even more than that.
If you’re interested in functional training, 24 Hour Fitness also has turf areas with battle ropes, TRX bands, plyo boxes, sleds, tires, medicine balls, and slam balls.
Like 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness has a large number of treadmills, ellipticals, step climbers, stationary bikes, and rowers. It also has a huge selection of cable and plate-loaded machines.
The dumbbells at LA Fitness go up to 120lbs. There are also EZ curl bars, prefixed straight barbells, and benches. Not all locations have bumper plates, but you’ll be able to find rubber-coated plates and Olympic barbells. Most locations have squat racks and deadlift platforms.
Both gyms have similar types of equipment, but you’re almost guaranteed to find bumper plates at 24 Hour Fitness, so it beats LA FItness when it comes to equipment.
A gym’s atmosphere can make or break your fitness experience. If the environment is friendly and non-judgmental, you’ll have a better time and be more excited to go.
Knowing there are other members who share similar goals as you can also go a long way in how successful you’ll be on your fitness journey. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals can help when you’re struggling with motivation.
24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness has a friendly, supportive environment that’s good for beginners and casual gym-goers. But because it has barbells and bumper plates, it caters to powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters, and if you don’t enjoy the sound of dropping weights, it won’t be the place for you.
Due to its large turf areas, it also attracts an audience who enjoys HIIT and functional training workouts. As such, you may find it a bit intimidating if you’re just looking for a gym to go to a couple of times a week for some low-impact exercise.
The atmosphere at LA Fitness varies depending on the time of day and the demographics of the local area.
For example, the one by me is close to some local high schools and colleges. It has a younger crowd that is more interested in socializing and isn’t very good at following proper gym etiquette. But there are other locations where the members include young professionals and older adults, who tend to be more considerate.
I’ve also found that many locations cater to bodybuilders and powerlifters, and the members at those clubs are more serious about fitness and prefer to keep to themselves. LA Fitness doesn’t have a close-knit community, so you may not fit in if you’re joining the gym to make new friends.
I recommend 24 Hour Fitness over LA Fitness if you’re looking for a gym where the members tend to be more respectful of each other.
5. Gym Policies
Before you decide which gym to join, it’s good to understand what its rules are. Some gyms have rules about what you can wear, how you can work out, and whether or not you can bring guests, which can either enhance or detract from your gym experience.
Understanding what you’re signing up for before you pay for your membership can prevent a lot of frustration in the future.
24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness allows its members to use chalk, and dropping weights is allowed as long you’re using bumper plates and on a lifting platform.
It doesn’t allow you to lift barefoot, but other than that, the dress code is pretty lenient. As long as you’re not wearing anything that’s either too baggy or too revealing and doesn’t pose a risk of getting stuck in the machines, you won’t get in trouble.
Guests who are at least 18 years old are allowed. You can bring one guest for free, but if you bring the same person a second time, you’ll have to pay a small guest fee.
24 Hour Fitness doesn’t have any cancellation fees. But if you want to cancel your membership, you have to hand in a written letter at the front desk or send it via certified mail.
LA Fitness doesn’t allow you to drop weights, but you can use chalk and lift barefoot. It has a similar dress code as 24 Hour Fitness — as long as your clothing keeps you adequately covered up and doesn’t have grommets or chains that can get caught on the machines, you can wear any kind of workout apparel.
If you have a Multi Club membership, you can bring one guest with you for free. Any additional guests that you bring in a single visit will incur a guest fee of $20.
To cancel your membership, you have to fill out a form that you can download from the LA Fitness website. You can send it via certified mail or hand it in at the front desk. You don’t have to pay any cancellation fees, but if you have an annual contract, you may be responsible for paying for any unused time left on your plan.
You won’t be held back by silly rules at either gym, so it’s a toss-up. The only noticeable differences between the two gyms’ policies are that LA Fitness lets you lift barefoot while 24 Hour Fitness doesn’t, and 24 Hour Fitness lets you drop weights while LA Fitness doesn’t.
6. Group Classes
Group classes are a great way to work out while having fun with other people and not having to plan your own routine. However, not all gyms have a large selection of classes, and if they do, they’re not always offered at convenient times.
If you’re interested in taking classes, you’ll need to check that the ones you’re interested in are offered multiple times a week at times that fit your schedule. Otherwise, you’ll have to think about whether you’ll be happy taking different classes each time you go to the gym.
24 Hour Fitness
The classes at 24 Hour Fitness include barre, Pilates, Zumba, spin, yoga, Body Pump, and strength training. The exact class offerings vary by location, and not all classes are offered every day. Classes are typically scheduled in the mornings and evenings during the week and in the mornings on the weekends.
LA Fitness has Pilates, Zumba, spin, and yoga classes. You can also find boxing, cardio dance, and aquatics classes at some locations. Most classes are available in the mornings and evenings during the week, but there are also some classes offered in the afternoons. On the weekends, all classes are held in the morning.
You can also take classes called HIIT by LAF at some locations. These classes are similar to CrossFit and combine endurance, barbell movements, and interval training. You have the option of wearing a heart rate monitor during these classes to keep track of how hard you’re working. The HIIT by LAF classes cost an additional $125/month.
LA Fitness is the better choice if you’re looking for classes that are offered all day long.
Gyms want you to stick around for a while, so they do whatever they can to make it easier for you to fit your workouts into your day. This includes offering things like showers, juice bars, and childcare. Some gyms also have amenities like saunas so they can offer a more holistic approach to your health and wellness.
But not all gyms offer extra amenities, and some amenities aren’t included in your membership. If you’re looking for extra perks, you’ll need to double-check which ones your preferred gym offers and find out whether or not you need to pay for them.
24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness has basketball courts, racquetball courts, saunas, and pools. Childcare is available, and you can find juice bars or pro shops at most locations. Showers and locker rooms are also available for all members.
LA Fitness has basketball courts, racquetball courts, pools, and smoothie bars. Childcare is available for a small monthly fee, and you’ll also have to pay to reserve time slots for the sports courts. Some locations also have saunas.
All members are able to take advantage of the showers and locker rooms.
Both gyms have similar amenities, so you can’t go wrong with either one if you’re looking for some extra member perks.
8. Personal Training
Hiring a personal trainer can be a wise decision if you’re new to fitness, need accountability, or are having trouble getting results on your own. But not all personal trainers are good at their jobs, so it’s important to evaluate the qualifications and credentials of the trainers at your preferred gym.
24 Hour Fitness
The personal trainers at 24 Hour Fitness must have at least one year of training experience and be certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), or other similar bodies.
Most of the trainers have college degrees, although it’s not required for the degrees to be in related areas like exercise science or kinesiology.
Personal training sessions start at $85/hour and go up to $97.50/hour depending on your location and how experienced your trainer is. You can also buy packages of four sessions.
As I mentioned earlier, the personal trainers at LA Fitness don’t have the best reputations. In my experience, it’s a gym where many trainers get their start, so some of them don’t yet have established careers. They’re required to have personal training certifications, but they don’t have to have college degrees.
Personal training sessions range from $45 to $60 each depending on your location and how long your session lasts. You can also buy a six-month package for $240/month or a 12-month package for $200/month.
Even though you’ll have to pay more, the personal trainers at 24 Hour Fitness have a better reputation and more experience. I’d recommend them over the ones at LA Fitness.
Most chain gyms have hundreds of locations, which makes it easier to find one that’s close to your home or office and increases the likelihood of you being able to work out on a consistent basis.
It’s also good to understand whether or not your preferred gym offers reciprocity. Having the ability to visit other clubs can come in handy if you’re traveling or just want to try different equipment or classes at another location.
24 Hour Fitness
24 Hour Fitness has about 300 locations in the US. Most of them can be found on the east and west coasts.
Only members with national-access plans can visit any location in the US. If you get a single-club plan, you can only visit the location where you initially signed up. If you have a regional-access plan, you can visit any location within a predetermined mile radius.
LA Fitness has about 700 locations in the US and Canada. If you have a Multi Club plan, you can visit any location except for some exclusive clubs that don’t accept drop-ins from members of other locations.
Go with LA Fitness if you’re looking for a gym with a more widespread presence in the US.
10. Hours of Operation
Having to fit in a workout is challenging when you’re juggling a career, family responsibilities, and a social life. To ensure you don’t have any excuses for missing the gym, you should look for one that is open early in the morning until late at night (or even 24 hours a day) so you can work out at a time that is convenient for you.
24 Hour Fitness
The vast majority of 24 Hour Fitness locations are open 24/7. I know of a few unique locations that are located in towns that follow blue laws, which prevent them from being open on Sundays and operating 24 hours a day. However, these gyms are in the minority.
Each club’s hours vary, but most are open from 5 AM until 11 PM during the week and 8 AM until 8 PM on the weekends.
24 Hour Fitness is the better choice if you’re looking for a gym with 24/7 availability.
Who Is 24 Hour Fitness For?
24 Hour Fitness is ideal for:
- Olympic weightlifters
- Anyone who’s interested in hiring a personal trainer
- Anyone who wants to be able to work out in the middle of the night
Who Is LA Fitness For?
LA Fitness is ideal for:
- Anyone who can’t afford a pricey gym membership
- Anyone who’s interested in taking CrossFit-style classes for an additional fee
Other Gym Comparisons With 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness
- Life Time Fitness vs 24 Hour Fitness
- Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness
- 24 Hour Fitness vs Anytime Fitness
- Planet Fitness vs 24 Hour Fitness
- Youfit vs LA Fitness
- Equinox vs LA Fitness
- Crunch vs LA Fitness
- LA Fitness vs YMCA
- Gold’s Gym vs LA Fitness
- GoodLife Fitness vs LA Fitness
- Anytime Fitness vs LA Fitness
- Planet Fitness vs LA Fitness
- LA Fitness vs Life Time Fitness
- 24 Hour Fitness vs LA Fitness
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.