Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness: Differences, Pros, Cons

gold's gym vs 24 hour fitness differences, pros, cons

Gold’s Gym is one of the most iconic gyms in the US, and 24 Hour Fitness is most known for being one of the first chain gyms to offer 24-hour access to members. Both gyms boast a large amount of equipment and supportive environments, so it can be difficult to determine which one is best for you.

So is Gold’s Gym or 24 Hour Fitness a better gym? Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness are both great gyms, but I’d recommend 24 Hour Fitness because it has more membership options, is better for Olympic weightlifting, and has more flexible hours. It is slightly more expensive, but the cost is worth it.

Gym contracts can be difficult to cancel, and to avoid the hassle of a complicated and inconvenient cancellation process, you’ll want to make sure you join the right gym from the start.

In this article, I’ll review Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness in detail and pit them against each other to see how they compare. By the end, you’ll be able to make a confident decision about which gym will best help you reach your goals.

Gold’s Gym Overview

Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym is one of the first bodybuilding gyms that opened in 1965 in southern California. Many famous bodybuilders, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Draper, trained at the iconic Venice Beach location frequently.

Gold’s Gym has 50,000 square foot facilities with a ton of equipment. It also has a large selection of group classes and amenities. Although most locations still cater to bodybuilders, it now has a much more diverse audience.

Pros

  • Huge facilities with a ton of equipment
  • Free Wi-Fi inside the gym
  • Good selection of group classes with fun, supportive instructors
  • Motivating environment
  • Most amenities are free

Cons

  • Doesn’t allow members to use chalk or drop weights
  • Not open 24/7

Get my full review of Gold’s Gym here.

24 Hour Fitness Overview 

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness is a 24-hour gym that was founded in 1983. It had more than 500 locations in the US at one point, but that number has been cut in half. Still, 24 Hour Fitness is the second-largest chain gym in the country in terms of revenue.

24 Hour Fitness has a large variety of equipment that suits bodybuilding, CrossFit, powerlifting, and Olympic weightlifting workouts. It also has a huge selection of cardio and strength machines, so you can do nearly any kind of workout there.

Some locations have issues with cleanliness and can get exceptionally crowded, but if you can find a club that’s well-maintained, it’s a great gym.

Pros

  • High-quality weightlifting equipment
  • Short-term memberships available
  • Can use your membership at GoodLife Fitness and Energie Cardio, two Canadian gyms
  • Lots of amenities
  • 24/7 access

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a lot of locations
  • Cleanliness can be an issue at some locations

Get my full review of 24 Hour Fitness here.

Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness: 10 Differences

Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness 10 Differences

1. Cost

The cost of gym memberships vary from gym to gym. But even one chain can have different prices at different locations or for different membership plans. Many gyms also charge annual fees, enrollment fees, and taxes. As such, you’ll need to be prepared to pay all of the extra fees in addition to your monthly dues.

Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym costs around $40-$50/month depending on the pricing structure at your local club. You may be able to pay for a year in full for $499 plus taxes.

You can also sign up for an annual plan but pay monthly for about $480 plus taxes. With this option, there’s also a small enrollment fee.

If you don’t want to buy an annual plan, you can sign up for a month-to-month plan for about $54/month. There are no enrollment fees or annual fees with a month-to-month membership.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness has a complicated pricing structure. Memberships start at $35/month depending on your location, but you can pay for up to two years in full to save some money. If you don’t pay in full, your monthly cost is anywhere from $41.67 to $56.99.

How much you have to pay will also depend on whether you get a membership with national, regional, or single-club access. On top of that, most plans require a $49 annual fee.

The Winner

There isn’t a significant different in price between Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness. But Gold’s Gym has a more straightforward pricing structure and is a few dollars cheaper per month, which can help if you’re trying to save some money.

2. Contract Length

The length of a gym contract isn’t something most people think about when they first start looking for a gym. But it’s good to know what kind of commitment you’ll have to make so you don’t get locked into a contract that you can’t keep and will be expensive to get out of.

Gold’s Gym

Annual and month-to-month contracts are both available at Gold’s Gym.

24 Hour Fitness

You can get month-to-month, one-year, or two-year contracts at 24 Hour Fitness. If you only need a gym membership for a short amount of time, you can also buy a plan for one week, one month, or three months.

The Winner

24 Hour Fitness wins since it has a wider range of contracts available.

3. Equipment

Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness Equipment

It can be frustrating to get to the gym and find equipment that’s either broken or has a long line of people waiting to use it. It can also be annoying to join a gym that doesn’t have the equipment you need to do the workouts you enjoy.

As such, you’ll want to make sure your preferred gym has a wide assortment of equipment that enables you to do a variety of movements and make progress over time.

Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym has a large number of treadmills, stationary bikes, step climbers, and ellipticals. Most locations also have a few rowers and arc trainers.

There’s also a huge supply of strength equipment, including dumbbells, kettlebells, EZ curl bars, prefixed barbells, standard barbells, benches, and rubber-coated plates. You can also find plenty of selectorized and plate-loaded machines.

Squat racks and deadlift platforms are also available, but each location will have a different number of each.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness has all of the cardio machines you’d expect to find in a gym, including treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, step climbers, and rowers. It also has a huge assortment of cable machines, selectorized machines, and plate-loaded machines.

24 Hour Fitness also has plenty of free weights, including dumbbells, prefixed barbells, EZ curl bars, trap bars, bumper plates, and standard barbells. There are also several squat racks and deadlift platforms.

In addition, 24 Hour Fitness has a large turf area for functional training. This area has TRX bands, medicine balls, slam balls, tires, sleds, plyo boxes, battle ropes, and Bosu balls.

The Winner

I’d recommend 24 Hour Fitness over Gold’s Gym if you want to do Olympic weightlifting or like using bumper plates, but when it comes to equipment, you can’t really go wrong with either gym.

4. Atmosphere

Atmosphere can play a big role in determining which gym is right for you. If the staff is welcoming and you feel comfortable there, it will go a long way in helping you stick with your goals.

You should consider which gym has members that have similar goals as you or are of a similar age. It also helps to watch how the members interact with each other to see if the gym will be a good fit for you. For example, if you’re an outgoing person, you probably won’t enjoy working out in a gym where none of the other members talk to each other.

Gold’s Gym

The atmosphere at Gold’s Gym harkens back to its roots as a bodybuilding gym. But while it still caters to bodybuilders, it’s also a good place for average gym-goers and athletes in other sports. There are a variety of people from different age groups and experience levels.

The environment is on the more serious side, so you should expect to find that people are focused on themselves and their routines and won’t go out of their way to make friends. 

However, many Gold’s Gym locations have challenges and social events throughout the year for their members. These are a good way to get to know other people and participate in some friendly competition.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness doesn’t have a cozy community-oriented environment, and the members tend to not socialize with each other. The staff is friendly and welcoming, but some members at some locations aren’t the best at cleaning up after themselves.

Like Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness has a more serious vibe, but it’s not quite as intimidating if you’re new to fitness or only work out occasionally. On the other hand, it does attract some powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters, so you’ll hear a lot of weights being dropped, which you may find annoying if you’re not used to lifting heavy weights.

The Winner

Both gyms have a more serious atmosphere, but because 24 Hour Fitness doesn’t have a reputation as a bodybuilding gym, it can be less intimidating for beginners and average gym-goers.

5. Gym Policies

Having a good understanding of a gym’s rules can help you decide if it’s right for you or not. Some gyms are laidback and others are more strict, and the policies can affect whether or not you have a good experience.

Gold’s Gym

Dropping weights and using powdered chalk aren’t allowed at most locations, but some clubs will let you use liquid chalk. Some locations will also let you lift barefoot, but most don’t.

Other than that, the dress code is pretty laidback, and you can wear any workout apparel as long as it’s clean, not too baggy, and doesn’t have embellishments that can get stuck on the machines.

Gold’s Gym offers one- or seven-day guest passes for friends and family members.

If you want to cancel your membership, you have to submit a letter to the staff or send it via certified mail. Gold’s Gym requires 30 days’ notice and a cancellation fee of anywhere from $89 to $200. You can transfer your membership to someone else, but you’ll have to pay a fee of about $200.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness lets you use chalk as long as you clean the floor and barbell up when you’re done. You can also drop your weights from overhead if you’re using bumper plates and on a lifting platform.

Guests are allowed as long as they’re at least 18 years old. They’re free the first time you bring them. If you bring the same person as a guest a second time, you’ll have to pay a small fee of about $20.

24 Hour Fitness doesn’t have a strict dress code, but it doesn’t allow barefoot lifting, so you have to keep your shoes on at all times.

To cancel your membership, you have to bring a written letter to your home location or mail it via certified mail. If you need to stop working out for just a short period of time, you can freeze your membership for anywhere from three to six months (or 12 months in certain situations).

The Winner

24 Hour Fitness wins because you can drop weights, use chalk, and there are no cancellation fees.

6. Group Classes

Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness Group Classes

Group classes are great if you like working out in a social setting. But each gym offers different types of classes and has different schedules, so you’ll need to make sure your preferred gym has the classes you’re interested in at times that work best for you. 

Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym offers a wide array of group classes such as yoga, HIIT, kickboxing, circuit training, Zumba, and boot camp. Each location has a different class schedule, but most classes are offered in the evening during the week and in the mornings during the weekend.

Gold’s Gym also has classes called Gold’s Fit, which is similar to CrossFit. These classes aren’t included in your membership and cost an additional $40/month.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness offers cycling, yoga, barre, Body Pump, Zumba, Pilates, and strength training classes. Many classes are only offered a couple days a week, and class times are limited.

The Winner

Gold’s Gym is the winner because it has a wider range of group classes, including its CrossFit-type classes for an additional fee.

7. Amenities

Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness Amenities

Gyms want you to keep your membership for as long as possible, so most of the largest gym chains offer additional perks that can make your workout routine a little easier to stick to.

These include things like showers and smoothie bars so you don’t have to go home to wash up or eat a post-workout snack before you get on with the rest of your day. Some gyms even offer saunas or massages to help you relax after a tough workout.

Not all gyms offer top-notch amenities, though. If these perks are going to be essential to your workout experience, you’ll need to look for a gym that offers the perks you’ll use most often.

Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym has basketball courts, smoothie bars, pools, massage chairs, and saunas. A few locations have tanning booths, but Gold’s Gym has been gradually removing them due to the risks of skin cancer.

Gold’s Gym offers free childcare for all members. The showers and locker rooms are also available for all members, but you’ll have to bring your own toiletries and towels.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness has pools, sports courts, saunas, childcare, and juice bars or pro shops. There are showers and locker rooms available for all members. Some locations have shampoo and soap dispensers in the shower stalls, but you’ll have to bring your own towel.

The Winner

It’s a tie since both gyms offer similar types of amenities.

8. Personal Training

Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness Personal Training

Almost all gyms have personal trainers, but their experience levels and qualifications vary. If you know you want to work with a personal trainer, look for a gym whose trainers are well-educated and have an established client base. These are good signs that you’ll find success with them as well.

It’s also important to consider the cost and terms of any personal training contract you have to sign. Personal training sessions usually aren’t included in your gym membership, so you’ll have to factor that into your gym budget. 

Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym tends to have knowledgeable, highly qualified personal trainers.

It prefers that its trainers have certifications through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), or the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). Each of these certifications is highly regarded in the fitness industry and offers trainers the opportunity to pick up additional specializations.

Personal training sessions at Gold’s Gym last for 50 minutes and cost anywhere from $60-$100 per session.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness’s personal trainers must have at least one year of professional training experience and be certified through NASM, ACE, or other similar bodies.

Sessions start at $85/hour and can cost as much as $97.50/hour. You can buy a package of four sessions and opt to have it expire after those four sessions end or have it auto-renew indefinitely.

The Winner

Both gyms have qualified personal trainers with good reputations, but Gold’s Gym wins because its personal training sessions are more affordable.

9. Locations

Sometimes, you may have to settle for a gym that’s not necessarily the best option but is close to where you live or work. It won’t always be worth it to join a nicer gym that’s far away if getting there will be a challenge and keep you from reaching your goals.

If possible, it’s also good to look for a gym that lets you use your membership at multiple locations. This will not only come in handy when you’re traveling but can also be beneficial if you want to try different equipment or group classes at another location.

Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym has over 700 locations in the world. About 250 of them can be found in the US.

Whether or not you can use your membership at other locations depends on which plan you have and the rules at each individual club. Some clubs only accept members from other clubs within the same state or within a certain mile radius.

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness has less than 300 locations in the US, most of which are situated on the east and west coasts. Only members with certain membership plans are able to visit any club in the country. Other membership plans only allow you to visit locations within a 50-mile radius.

24 Hour Fitness also has a partnership with gym chains called GoodLife Fitness and Energie Cardio in Canada. You can use your 24 Hour Fitness membership at either of these Canadian chains if you ever travel to Canada.

The Winner

Gold’s Gym has more than double the number of locations as 24 Hour Fitness. It’s a better choice if you’re looking for a gym with a more widespread presence so you can keep working out whenever you’re away from home.

10. Hours of Operation

Gold’s Gym vs 24 Hour Fitness Hours of Operation

Most people who go to the gym are not professional athletes whose entire day centers around training. We often have to squeeze in workouts whenever we can before or after work, during lunch, or after the kids have gone to bed. As such, when deciding between two gyms, it’s essential that you choose the one whose hours will best fit your schedule.

Gold’s Gym

Most Gold Gym’s locations are open from 5 AM until 11 PM on weekdays and 7 AM until 7 PM on weekends. Some locations may open earlier and/or close earlier.

24 Hour Fitness

As the name implies, 24 Hour Fitness is a 24-hour gym.

I do know of some locations near me in northern NJ in towns that follow blue laws, which prohibit the chain from staying open 24 hours a day. But this is definitely not the norm, and even those gyms still have very convenient hours of 5 AM to 11 PM all seven days of the week.

The Winner

24 Hour Fitness is the better option if you need a gym with 24/7 availability.

Who Is Gold’s Gym For?

Gold’s Gym is best for you if you:

  • Travel internationally and want to go to the gym while you’re abroad
  • Are a bodybuilder
  • Are looking for affordable personal training
  • Are looking for a wide range of group classes

Who Is 24 Hour Fitness For?

24 Hour Fitness is best for you if you:

  • Are a powerlifter or Olympic weightlifter
  • Want 24-hour access to a gym
  • Want a short-term gym membership
  • Frequently travel to Canada and want to use your membership at GoodLife Fitness

Other Gym Comparisons With Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness


About The Author

Amanda Dvorak

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.