I tried working out at the swankiest gym chain to see if it's worth the money

EquinoxEquinoxEquinox’s current provocative ad campaign.

Equinox is arguably the swankiest gym chain in America. 

Members pay $200-$300 initiation fees and $160-$250 monthly rates. They rave about the gym’s amenities, which include classes taught by former Olympians and spa treatments.

While I’m content with my measly $15/month gym, I still wondered about what it’s like to be a member of Equinox.

How tough are the classes? Do only beautiful people exercise there?

While I can’t afford its lavish prices in the long-term, I tried Equinox for a week through a friend’s guest pass. Here’s what I found out.

Equinox is a nationwide luxury gym.

There are 33 locations in New York and I was able to tackle five of them. Each location has benefits -- some have pools and hot tubs, while others have steam rooms and saunas. My personal attraction and motivation to try Equinox was for the pool. I haven't been able to get in a pool since I moved to Manhattan!

Signing up for classes isn't as competitive as I expected it to be.

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I always feel like there's a rush to sign up for a fitness class before spots run out, but that wasn't the case at Equinox. Members use an app to check-in, book a class, schedule training, and search for clubs.

Some gyms allow you to sign up 26 hours in advance online, while others offer walk-in only classes. When I signed in for my class at the gym, I was given a number so that employees can keep tabs on who's in the class. No sneaking in here!

The gym itself offers elite equipment for cardio, strength training, and stretching.

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The screens of the cardio equipment offer every aspect of distraction that you might need while running. I had never seen or used anythinglike it.

I could go on Facebook, read the news, watch TV, or listen to podcasts all while attempting to run at 6.5 mph. It made my half-hour cardio session fly by.

The atmosphere was a little pretentious.

I felt a little bit out of place, but at least I had my Lululemon crops to help me fit in.

There were a lot of single men in their 30s, while the women were mostly either in their 20s or upper 50s. I wondered where the trendy mums were, but they must all be at Soul Cycle. And yes, everyone is beautiful.

The instructors were enthusiastic and motivating.

They gave off a positive energy that encouraged me to take advantage of the time I had at the gym. My kickboxing instructor even brought his mum to the class, apparently she's a regular! It made the class experience more personal and engaging.

In one week, I took: two yoga classes, a Pilates class, a kickboxing class, a precision running class, a spinning class, and a barre class -- and every single one of them made me feel like I was getting the most out of my workout. My favourite class was Pilates, I was sore for a few days after.

The spa will cost you more money.

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When I first realised Equinox had a spa, I was so excited to sign up for a massage. I thought it came with the membership! But unfortunately, I was wrong. Members pay extra for spa benefits, which non-members can access as well.

Some of the packages include facials, manicures, massages, waxings, teeth whitening, eyelash extensions, and micro-dermabrasions.. Conveniently, on my last day of my membership trial, I was offered a free facial! That will make me want to join.

It also offers a snack bar.

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They have organic selections such as smoothies, salads, granola bars, and hot meals. You'll have to pay for these items too, and it's not cheap -- you'll pay $3 for a granola bar, while a salad runs about $8.

The eucalyptus towels were one of my favourite amenities.

Marina Nazario/Business Insider

After my week-long trial, Equinox didn't pester me with emails about becoming a member.

I was shocked! I was preparing myself all week to repeatedly hit 'unsubscribe' from emails about joining the gym. But nothing! In a strange way, it almost made me want to get emails from them because then I would feel wanted by this elite gym. How's that for reverse psychology?

So is a $250 monthly membership at Equinox worth it?

If money weren't an issue, then yes. If I had the money to spend on this gym, I would do it in a heartbeat.

It's luxurious. It's motivating. It's elite. It's something I can only hope to be able to comfortably afford some day.

But for now, I will enjoy my measly $15/month membership at a lesser gym and dream about my week at Equinox.

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