Influx of new gyms met with skepticism from community

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Lianne Frick/Staff

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With six new gyms set to open in the Berkeley area, some Berkeley residents and students are skeptical about how the facilities will fare.

The Berkeley community currently has a number of options when it comes to fitness centers, including the YMCA of the Central Bay Area, 24 Hour Fitness, the Dailey Method and a variety of independently owned gyms, alongside the campus Recreational Sports Facility. As first reported by Berkeleyside, six luxury fitness centers will soon be opening Berkeley locations: Bold Lagree Fitness Studio, CycleBar, City Sports Club, SoulCycle, Equinox and Orangetheory Fitness.

Many students said they most likely will not visit the incoming gyms. For Cynthia Gomez, a campus junior who was working out at the RSF, the motivation to remain with the RSF is largely because of price.

“(The RSF is) free and you get a variety of gyms here, you can do weight room, cycling, swimming,” Gomez said. All UC Berkeley students currently pay an $8.50 membership fee for the RSF’s facilities as part of the recently passed Wellness Referendum.

Students also said these new gyms may be reaching out to the wrong audience.

“I’m opposed to luxury gyms that make you pay extra for spa-like treatment,” said Michael Sacramento, a campus financial aid officer. “They should cater to a population of different statuses and social classes and income levels.”

Incoming boutique gyms expect to differentiate themselves with the specificity of their offerings.

Bold, which opened this past Saturday, will provide a high-intensity but low-impact workout that is similar to traditional pilates, according to part owner Kate Miclean. She added that while the studio is an admittedly expensive option at $289 for an unlimited monthly membership, they are hoping to attract students with a 15 percent discount and a convenient location at 3167 College Ave.

Additional forthcoming gyms include two cycling centers, CycleBar and SoulCycle. CycleBar, which will open at 1929 University Ave., finds its edge in technology, according to franchise owner Heather Branstetter.

“The center is stadium-style with bikes on 3 different tiers, a high end A/V system including 80″ TVs, lights and a DJ booth,” Branstetter said in an email. “We’ll have some rides with live DJ’s.”

Mike Cassidy, the chief operations officer at the YMCA of the Central Bay Area, said the new gyms will likely target residents of new apartments in the area. For fitness centers, Cassidy said, Berkeley is a prime move-in destination, despite the RSF.

“When you increase the density of people, it increase the opportunities for companies to move in,” Cassidy said. “(It’s a) big health push. … People know (that) to live long and well you need to be healthy.”

Contact Sakura Cannestra and Audrey McNamara at [email protected].