Go Beyond Barbells at These Cambridge Gyms

Sometimes all you want from a gym is to pop in your earbuds, jump on a treadmill and tune out while you work out.

But if you’re looking to get fit in a space that offers a little more, check out one of these area gyms, where you’ll find yourself thinking “I get to go to the gym today,” and not “I have to go to the gym today.”

Orangetheory Fitness
270 Third St. | orangetheoryfitness.com

“We want to bring people together who are passionate about fitness,” says Travis Murray, studio manager of the newly opened Orangetheory in Kendall Square.
Maybe that has you thinking, “Am I passionate about fitness?” Trust us: One class at this facility and you will be. They have your workout down to a science—literally.

At Orangetheory, you can see just how hard you’re working in real time—you’re hooked up to a heart rate monitor during your workout. This is a whole new method of individual accountability. Not only do you have a supportive trainer there to cheer you on, but you can see immediately if you’re slacking off based on your body’s response. The monitor is strapped to either your chest or wrist before class, and your results are displayed on a screen along with everyone else’s. The goal is to get your rate to the “orange zone,” which starts at about 84 percent output and means you’ll burn at least 500 to 1,000 calories in each hour-long session. It’s a super high-tech premise that really pays off.

“We’re a trusted leader in innovative, heart-rate-based fitness,” Murray says proudly. If the scientific stuff doesn’t draw you in, maybe knowing that Britney Spears works out at an Orangetheory five days a week will. And the celeb treatment isn’t limited to Brit. In addition to top-of-the-line technology, Orangetheory has a luxurious facility with all the amenities. We’re talking high-quality shampoos and conditioners in the showers, deodorant and other hygiene products stocked in the bathroom and complimentary hair-dryers. Or maybe the friendly and supportive staff will be a better draw—you’ll get a warm welcome and an amazing workout every time you walk in.

Orangetheory also offers what could be the biggest community workout ever. Every day, at every Orangetheory facility around the country, instructors are teaching the same workout. If you head in for a session in Kendall Square, you can debrief with your friend in California who also went to Orangetheory that day. Or simply post about your training on social media, where you’re sure to get a response. This gym offers an amazing online network and some serious social media outreach.

On a local level, the Orangetheory in Kendall Square is working hard to invest in community. From donation drives that benefit organizations in the area to challenges and prizes that engage all members, giving back to the neighborhood is at the top of their to-do list.

A photo posted by Turnstyle (@turnstyleboston) on

Turnstyle Cycle
1 Kendall Sq., B3002 | turnstylecycle.com

Ever have a perfectly good workout ruined by a terrible playlist? That would never happen at Turnstyle Cycle in Kendall Square.

“The music is so important,” says Nick Resor, one of Turnstyle’s owners. “It’s all beat-based—the music is the most important part of our classes.” Beat-based means that every step you take, every move you make—Puff Daddy pun very much intended—fits with the playlist. It gets you tuned into the workout, helps you keep up your rhythm and makes the class incredibly fun. Turnstyle offers fullbody cardio workouts with a wide range of cool classes like Beyonce v. Jay Z and one that brings together the tunes of M.I.A., Porter Robinson and The White Stripes.

The first indoor cycling studio in Cambridge, Turnstyle opened in 2014 because its owners noticed a few problems with the boutique gym experience in Greater Boston. For starters, most of those studios tend to come with a steep price tag. “We offer a high-quality product at an affordable price,” Resor assures.

A second problem? Boutique gyms can seem intimidating. It’s easy for small, exclusive spaces to feel just that way to individuals looking to go somewhere new for their workout. “A lot of studios make their trainers seem like celebrities,” says Resor. “We didn’t want to do that.” Turnstyle offers a friendly and inviting atmosphere—one that doesn’t stop once class is over. Trainers hang around and chat with the people who just took their class, and it’s even common for gym-goers and trainers to grab a drink together after class.

At Turnstyle, trainees can either take a class in the cycle room or in the TRX studio, depending on their preference for high-intensity cycle classes or smaller, boot camp-style workouts. But don’t be intimidated by the mention of “high-intensity” or “boot camp”—these workouts are for everyone, not just the super fit among us. Each session can be modified for people of all age ranges and fitness abilities.

A photo posted by VIM Fitness (@vimfitness) on

VIM Fitness
579 Mass. Ave. | vimfitness.com

“Gorgeous.” “Zen-like.” “Immaculate.” These are not words members often use to describe their fitness facilities—but then, VIM Fitness is not your average gym.

“We want to offer a more luxurious experience for a more reasonable price,” says VIM co-owner Brett Owens. “We don’t want to just sell an experience; we want to sell a relationship.”

This philosophy runs deep. VIM’s owners feel big-box gyms are too focused on numbers and not focused enough on individuals. In their opinion, those gyms are renting you a machine instead of providing you with a great fitness experience. Nearly every aspect of the VIM experience can be described as luxurious, from the impeccable aesthetics of the facility to the beautiful steam room and sauna. The new owners have re-imagined their gym down to the very last detail.

And they’ve made sure to impart the same philosophy of luxury to their staff. This means they treat their trainers well and make sure they’re able to give all clients the best experience possible. The entire staff is there to cater to clients, and they’ve been trained to focus on customer satisfaction. This doesn’t mean fitness is secondary. VIM offers a hybrid experience of group classes—it boasts the most group exercise classes of any facility in Cambridge—and one-on-one training and access to equipment so clients get a tailored training package that yields results.

Trainer Lindsey Norse worked at corporate facilities before joining VIM’s Central Square location as general manager. She’s felt more supported as a trainer and manager here, and she says that’s a feeling that trickles down to customers. Norse describes the boutique gym as a “kind, calm and laidback environment,” where everyone is happy to be there. But her favorite thing that VIM does differently than those big-box gyms?

“Any problems go straight to the top,” Norse says. “Any issues are taken care of immediately.”

This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 250 locations throughout the city or by subscription

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