Boot Camp vs Gym Membership: Which is Right for You?

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While visiting a local park, you may have noticed small groups working out together.

They are typically doing sprints, calisthenics exercises, and other intense fitness drills.

These workouts are known as boot camp workouts and have become a popular fitness style. 

Led by a fitness ‘drill sergeant,’ these circuit training fitness classes are great for people of all backgrounds. They can also be done at a bootcamp studio like Burn Boot Camp, Barry’s Bootcamp, or F45.

But, are boot camp workouts the right choice for you? How does bootcamp vs gym compare overall?

Boot camp workouts are brutally intense and extremely effective. You’ll be guaranteed to see results with an expert instructor guiding your every workout — but be prepared to pay up to 4x what you’d pay to join a gym.

If you want the freedom to do your own workouts, are on a tight budget, or want to train for a specific goal like muscle building, you’ll be better off at the gym.

Let’s take a closer look.


Cost 

Fitness boot camps typically occur in a smaller specialized gym or fitness studio.

Because it’s a small business, you will typically pay more than your standard corporate gym. 

Boot Camp Workout Costs

When analyzing the costs of boot camp workouts, there are two main types of class environments.

As I mentioned in the intro, some classes occur at parks or other open public spaces with members.  

However, there are also boutique studios that cater to boot camp workouts like Burn Boot Camp, Barry’s Bootcamp, or F45.

These facilities charge a flat rate per month, allowing you to take as many classes as you want. 

If you are looking to enjoy the outdoors while getting an intense workout, you should sign-up for the first option.

These classes are usually led by a local personal trainer who advertises that they lead these boot camp classes. 

More informal and a better fit for beginners, these classes typically are paid on a per-class basis to the trainer.

On average, these classes will be between $12-$25 for a one-hour workout session with other members. 

If you are looking for something a little more structured, getting a membership at a boot camp workout studio may be the better choice.

There are dozens of different franchises that focus on boot camp workouts. 

Here are some of the membership fees to attend the most popular boot camp fitness studios in the United States: 

  • Burn Boot Camp / $99-$199 per month for unlimited classes
  • F45 Fitness Studio / $200-280 per month for unlimited classes 
  • Barry’s Bootcamp / $180 for eight classes and $320 for thirty classes 

Costs of a Gym Membership

If you are looking for a more generalized fitness facility, a standard big box gym will have everything you need.

Because of their larger group members, most gym chains will have a smaller membership fee than a boot camp studio. 

Depending on your fitness goals, you can plan to do your own workout regime or you can workout at a group fitness class.

If you are working out alone, you will pay the standard gym membership fee of $15-$45 per month. 

For a breakdown of gym membership costs, here are estimated or average monthly costs for some of the largest gym chains: 

  • Gold’s Gym / $24.99 per month
  • World Gym / $15-$35 per month
  • 24-Hour Fitness / $49.99 per month 
  • Anytime Fitness / $35-$55 per month 

Depending on your goals, you may need to pay extra to get more amenities from the gym.

As a base package, you will have access to the basics like the weight room, cardio equipment, and locker rooms. 

However, if you are looking for more, such as personal training or group fitness classes, you may need to pay more for your membership.

Gym’s such as World Gym will nearly double the costs of their general membership for more features.

Overall, expect to pay a lot more for the small group size and personalized instruction at boot camp vs a regular gym membership.

But which one offers the better value? Let’s keep going with the comparison.


Convenience 

Like other fitness studios, a boot camp workout focused studio will have a set schedule of classes throughout the day.

Depending on your studio, you will most likely reserve your spot in these classes online on their website. 

Spread throughout the day, you can attend a class whenever you are available.

Some of the most popular times are before work or in the evening.

Once you have reserved your spot, you’ll have your appointment to help hold you accountable. 

Nobody likes paying fees, and in many cases, a studio will require a cancellation fee if you don’t show up to class.

These fees can also be seen as a good source of motivation, as you now have a reason to go even when you don’t feel like it. 

However, you can’t beat the convenience of a big-box gym.

Open throughout the dayyou can fit in a workout at the most convenient times for you. Many gyms are even open 24/7, giving you full access. 

While this is extremely convenient, it also is easy to lose motivation and stop going to the gym.

It’s no surprise the amount of people who quit working out at gyms is very high.

Some surveys show that as many as 90% of people quit after three months. 

This amount is shocking, but it’s also important to understand where you stand in your fitness journey and motivation to workout.

If you are new, you may not have developed the discipline to workout on your own at a big-box gym consistently. 

At a boot camp studio, there is the added pressure of scheduling the classes and the social pressure not to let your fellow members down. 

Often not discussed, the social benefits of attending a boot camp studio are highly underrated.

By meeting like-minded members at a studio, you can build friendships and have another reason to stay motivated. 

Gyms are more convenient than most boot camp studios and classes, especially 24/7 big box gyms — but the community at the boot camp studio and having set class times can help you stay committed long-term.


Workouts & Effectiveness 

Boot camp workouts vary in style, intensity, and focus area depending on where you workout — or even which day of the week you work out.

Some gyms will focus on HIIT-style workouts, incorporating bodyweight movements.

Other gyms will focus on Crossfit-style workouts with weights, resistance bands, and other forms of exercise. 

As an example, you will notice that most workouts at Barry’s Bootcamp will revolve around treadmills and weight lifting.

These workouts are often compared to Orangetheory.

Setting the treadmills at different speeds throughout the class will go through a circuit that will leave you exhausted. 

If you are looking to burn calories and lose weight, this style of boot camp workouts is for you.

Barry’s Bootcamp claims that you can burn up to a whopping 1,000-calories in a single session that is 50-60 minutes. 

At a popular franchise like Burn Boot Camp, they have a set schedule of different workouts throughout the week.

Some workouts at Burn will focus on:

  • Lower body strength
  • Upper body strength
  • Core
  • Cardio
  • Plyometrics
  • And more

Whatever the style of class, boot camp workouts are super intense.

While they are usually only 45-minutes to 1-hour long, you will be put through several circuits that will put your body to the test. 

If you aren’t sure which boot camp studio style is best for you, feel free to try several in your area.

Many studios offer free introductory classes, giving you a chance to try out the classes to see which studio is best for you. 

However, it would be best to consider your fitness goals when choosing between a big-box gym and a boot camp studio.

If you are interested in bodybuilding, for example, the workouts at a boot camp studio would not be ideal. 

Boot camp workouts are more geared for those interested in improving their overall fitness, looking to build a toned and lean physique.

At a gym, the workouts are entirely up to you and your fitness goals. 

You will see people of all backgrounds, from endurance athletes looking to compete in marathon events to bodybuilders preparing for a show.

Whatever your goal, you have all of the tools you need at a big box gym. 

That also means the results are up to you you, what you choose to do, and how hard you push — there’s no trainer or set workout to guide you, unless you’re willing to pay extra.


Wrapping Up

Boot camp workouts are an excellent choice for anyone looking to get into shape and feel more athletic.

The workouts are intense, efficient, and balanced.

However, these classes do take a one-size-fits-all approach and may not be ideal for your fitness goals. 

At a big-box gym, you can choose your own adventure, so to speak.

Lift heavy weights to build muscle, do intense cardio to improve your conditioning, or mix and match whenever you want.

Your gym membership, which is far more affordable than a boot camp studio, will likely include extras like access to a pool, sauna, or even group classes like yoga and spin.

Overall, my best advice would be to look for free gym passes and free introductory boot camp workouts in your area — try them all and ask yourself which place would motivate you to show up more consistently!

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Hope this helps!

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