Each year, as we learn more about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, the dangers of obesity and the long-term benefits of exercise, fitness classes and related services have mushroomed. Prices and quality of programs vary and choosing a good fitness class can require time-consuming research.  Prices vary for lifestyles and social settings. At the lowest extreme it costs nothing to jog on a park trail with friends. At the high end, some exclusive clubs have $20,000 annual membership dues. But within reasonable limits, when a qualified trainer is needed, “you get what you pay for.” We will look at some what is available for people on a budget.

Merlino Fitness
PMB 267
1302 Waugh Drive
Houston TX 77019
(713) 523-2577

Melino Fitness offers a variety of outdoor training exercise classes with up to 16 students. Students have choices of classes at Merlino’s private studio the downtown YMCA or outdoor boot camps. The latter service blends the simplicity and savings of using Houston’s ample public parks with the professional Guidence of Certified Professional Fitness Trainer Michael Merlino. He offers no-nonsense boot camp classes in mornings and afternoons and the flexibility for students to join any other class when a change is needed subject to the maximum of 16. Some meet in Memorial Park and others at the park behind the Houston Multi-Service Center at West Gray. Students bring their own yoga mats for core training. Merlino Fitness offers a variety of services including personal assessments from $40, fitness and nutrition consultations from $75 and outdoor classes from $99.

(photo credit: Marc Pembroke)

Body3 Fitness Center
1987 WTC Jester Blvd.
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 864-1231

Body3 Fitness center is located in the mall on W TC Jester near Ella Blvd, just between the Subway shop and the Kid Deposit daycare center. The service promises a “clean gym” which is visible from the exterior even when the gym is closed, and personalized training wih at least five instructors. Customers praise the professional, results-oriented staff and the welcoming, unintimidating atmosphere.

Quality Life Fitness
4150 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77027
(713) 621-4300

Quality of Life fitness seeks to offer a high-quality fitness training with motivated, professional trainers for customers who are both value and quality-consious. Owner Brian Nash explained that each exercise can be beneficial if executed properly, but potentially hazardous if the trainer is not able to give precise detailed instructions, notice errors and correct them immediately. The facility claims to be Houston’s first Eco-Friendly gym. Nash explained that it is important to consider the entire experience, including trainers who know their clients, a positive group experience and an awareness of overall issues affecting health, diet and quality of life on a daily basis. These factors explain the slightly higher costs, ranging from $50 to $70. Brian stated that while the slightly higher price might seem expensive or “unaffordable” to some, it is much lower than the price of medical services and rehabiliaion resultin either from a failure to exerecise properly or from classes offered by unqualified trainers.

Houston Heights Studio Fitness
2215 Laurence St.
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 863-8414

Located in the Heights area north of downtown Houston, this gym offers 20,000 square feet of floor space with ample free weights and other equipment. It also allows a free introductory class. Membership is optional, with rates for individual or duo and classes classes come in packages of four, eight or 12 starting from $30 for members or $37.0 for non-members. Single class “drop in” fees at $8 for members and $10 for non-members.

(photo credit: Marc Pembroke)

Fit Athletic Club
1532 W. Gray St.
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 782-9348

The Fit Athletic Club is located in Midtown behind in the mall at West Gray and Waugh behind Marshalls. The large facility is easily accessible with ample parking. Customers appreciate the ample resources and clean, spacious atmosphere here.

Marc Pembroke is a freelance writer covering all things Houston. His work can be found on Examiner.com.