Full-Service Gyms

Jan 31, 2011

Boutique workout programs may be all the rage, but most of us still need a good full-service gym. The offerings have changed in the last few years in Pasadena, ever since the closing of the much-loved PAC (Pasadena Athletic Club). Here’s where our team works out these days, with our personal lists of pros and cons.

Breakthru's speed-training area

Breakthru Fitness
The club of the moment, where those folks wearing Body Buggs on their arms are most likely to be working out, Breakthru is now located in the same building as the fancy Trader Joe’s on Del Mar at Lake—so you can get your exercise and your groceries in one fell swoop. It offers a free one-week membership for the curious.
Pros: Spotless facilities; excellent teachers and staff; a juice bar; little to no wait time for machines; an Astroturf area; childcare; views of the San Gabriels’ and some of the best fitness classes and programs in town, including yoga, pilates, Parisi Speed School, weight loss, Body Bugg, total conditioning and spinning. And lots of the classes are offered early, late and on weekends for working folks.
Cons: Expensive; no steam, sauna or pool; you need to sign up early for the most popular classes; you have to sign a membership contract.
345 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626.396.1700,$77-$99/month, depending on length of contract signed; extra charge for some training and weight-loss programs.

Cañada-Crescenta YMCA
Known as the “La Cañada Y,” this is the most family-friendly gym in town, and it’s as much a community center as anything, with everything from teen leadership programs to parenting classes. But for this purpose we’ll just focus on the fitness facilities and programs.
Pros: An easygoing, family-friendly vibe; good-enough equipment; a large indoor pool for lap swimming, water aerobics and excellent learn-to-swim lessons; two jacuzzis; attentive and free childcare; a great range of free classes, from Boot Camp to Broadway Dance; an outdoor running track; racquetball courts; good basketball games; lots of youth fitness programs; no membership contracts; a very good value.
Cons: A relatively small workout room, so there can be a wait for machines; fine but average locker rooms.
1930 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada, 818.790.0123, $57/month, with discounts for kids and seniors; family rate is $86/month.

Located in the Paseo Colorado, Equinox is the gold standard for local gyms, the place that many of the former PAC members ended up. It’s not very large, and they don’t have everything, but what they do have is state-of-the-art and perfectly maintained. Most members are serious about their fitness.
Pros: Superb and meticulously clean facilities, including a juice bar, kids’ club, and separate pilates and yoga studios; full spa treatments; excellent trainers and classes; towel service, including chilled towels for the hot ‘n’ sweaty; eucalyptus steam; Kiehl’s products in the locker rooms; private TVs on the machines; and marquee trainers, like Kelly Roberts and Erin O’Brien, as well as name guest teachers on Saturdays.
Cons: It’s the most expensive gym in town; no pool or sauna; the more popular classes fill up; no privacy in the glass-walled aerobic workout room; parking in the underground Paseo structure.
Paseo Colorado, 260 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626.685.4800, About $100-$110/month, plus a membership fee.

Sierra's boot camp

Sierra Fitness
This small and small-town gym is relaxed and congenial. It has a good range of machines and a newish free-weights room but is really known for its personal trainers, classes and off-site boot camp.
Pros: Friendly, personal attention; good pilates; excellent classes in barre, Zumba, spinning, kickboxing and step; classes open to non-members for a reasonable fee; no hard-sell on memberships.
Cons: No showers, sauna or steam; massages are no longer offered; no childcare; you have to travel a block to the separate pilates studio.
20 N. Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre, 626.836.1236, $79/month; $99/month for families; discounts for advance purchases.

24 Hour Fitness Altadena Magic Sport
The anchor (along with Super King) in the North Lincoln revitalization project, this newish two-story gym has become the hangout for people in the 91103 and 91001. Unlike the more elite gyms, you see every type here: the preppy, the tattooed, high school teams in training, stooped seniors, seriously muscled basketball players, the very overweight working to get in shape.
Pros: It’s a total bargain (check out Costco’s incredible two-year deal); you never have to wait for an elliptical trainer, treadmill or bike; the machines and weights are modern and well maintained; the pool isn’t bad for a small, indoor one; there are okay steam and sauna rooms; there’s free childcare; and the pickup basketball games can be excellent. Also, the staff is really nice. And it really is open 24 hours a day.
Cons: The headphone sound for the TVs doesn’t work; the classes, while free, are often sub-par and overcrowded; the locker rooms are just okay. This gym is better for people who just want to work out on their own with cardio and/or weight machines and go home.
2180 Lincoln Ave., Altadena, 626.296.8700, $29.99/month.



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena