Two summers ago, I asked two peerFit staffers to help me test and rank the best fitness classes in Gainesville for HOME magazine. This resulted in the three of us taking over 70 classes in 30 days, and while it was an amazing experience, it was completely exhausting!
This time, as I thought about ranking fitness experiences in Gainesville, I decided to make use of my last two years traveling the country reviewing fitness classes to provide a list of the top fitness opportunities that are fairly unique to our town. Since everyone knows about our bike paths, running trails and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, I’ll be listing more of the more unknown or new fitness gems.
Gainesville Health & Fitness Main Center
Hold your horses. I know you are about to say, “Ed, we all know about GHF, nothing new to see here.” As it turns out, the main center has done some major renovations in the last two years, and there are a few new components that are surprisingly unique.
Hidden inside the newly renovated gym are actually two new fitness experiences. Sky Cycle and the TRIBE fitness room are both themed boutique studios inside the mega gym’s walls. Sky Cycle is set in the newest wing of the gym and makes smart use of the corner of the building in order to add tinted natural light. When entering Sky Cycle, you feel a cooling blue aura take over you, giving the impression that you could be walking into Flywheel in the Flatiron district in Manhattan. The new setup goes far beyond a couple of new lights and stadium seating; behind the instructor sits a movie theater screen that displays scenes from a riding trail as you spin through class. Overall, it is definitely the most unique cycling opportunity in Gainesville.
The second themed studio commands your attention as you walk up the stairs to the second floor; the TRIBE fitness studio immediately reveals itself as a tough yet modern military atmosphere (regardless of the feel, it’s obvious you will get your butt kicked while in this studio). By blending the essence of a high-intensity interval workout with a sleek, modern design, it is almost as if Joe Cirulli has out-boot-camped the trendy big-city upstarts like Barry’s Boot Camp.
All in all, GHF and its team really outdid itself in combining the size of a big gym with the personalized service of the popular fitness studio model.
Dwight H. Hunter Pool aka the Northeast Pool
When you think of the words “community pool,” your next feeling probably isn’t a wave of motivation to go be at one. Gainesville, however, has the Northeast Pool. For avid swimmers who dream about being the next Ryan Lochte in an Olympic-size pool, there weren’t a lot of quality options in Gainesville until this pool came along.
Maybe swimming isn’t your thing. That’s ok; you now have a place to escape the seemingly year-round Florida summer and slide down a colossal water slide. North Central Florida has so many chances to get the triathlon bug, and there appears to be an endless number of people needing to get in some water training, so to me, this is the best spot in town that combines the outdoor experience, great swimming-temperature water and a solid pool layout, which very few community pools can rival.
Top Training Grounds
While Gainesville has some large fitness landmarks, there are some smaller locations that also pack quite a punch. Three studios in particular offer fitness-training styles for all types of Gainesville residents. Let it be noted that all three are fairly intense workouts and that Gainesville still lacks a high-quality hot yoga and barre studio (crossing my fingers).
Body By Boris
The mustard-yellow building near downtown is home to one of the friendliest, most personalized workouts you will find in Gainesville. From the moment you show up for your one-on-one beginner walkthrough, you just feel like the trainers at Body by Boris live to help you achieve your fitness goals. Although the workouts are tough, there is generally an element of teamwork and family present that I find missing from many other interval studios or CrossFit boxes. If you are looking to take the next step to a “tough” workout program, this is a great next step.
If you love CrossFit, you will love this box. For the people who have never tried a CrossFit workout, this group of high-quality trainers makes the process of getting involved one of the most seamless ones I’ve seen. For the size of our community, you couldn’t ask for a more spacious, clean environment to seek out competitive fitness challenges. The workouts are tough and the people will push you, but I’ve never walked away anything but satisfied from this box. If you have been on the fence about CrossFit, make sure you come out and do a trial with the team at CrossFit Gainesville — you’ll be happy you did.
Go Primal Fitness
Not for the timid. If these three studios are a spectrum in intensity, competition and pushing yourself, Go Primal Fitness is hands down the most extreme of the three. While to the casual observer it appears to be a CrossFit-like studio, it is anything but. The workouts are, in fact, the same style as CrossFit studios, but the approach and level of expertise of both the coaches and the athletes are above anywhere else in Gainesville. The way I’ve always thought of this place is that it’s the gym that could train your trainer. After you have been exercising for a bit, feel like you are in good shape and want to try to take it to the next level of fitness, go drop by Go Primal Fitness.
So remember, Gainesville is home to a plethora of opportunities when it comes to fitness. Whether you are just getting back into the swing of things, looking to take the next step toward your goals or perhaps want to give something completely new a try, be content in the knowledge that we have some of the very best fitness services right here in Gainesville.