Students weigh in on best Waco gyms

Many students continue to choose the Student Life Center as their preferred place to exercise, which provides the opportunity to hit a bench press. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

By Jacob Boone | Staff Writer

Waco is home to a wide variety of gyms, from the on-campus McLane Student Life Center to facilities like Train Waco, Crunch Fitness and Gold’s Gym. Each one offers distinct experiences, but the pros and cons of each have kept students’ decisions on where to work out into an ongoing debate.

Train Waco, a popular choice among serious fitness enthusiasts since its opening in 2018, boasts a CrossFit area, numerous racks and a wide variety of notable equipment.

“The people there are awesome,” Coppell sophomore Baker Tipton, a frequenter of Train Waco, said. “I feel like everyone at Train [Waco] takes it more seriously and has higher goals than other gyms.”

Tipton said he especially appreciates the notable equipment, such as the belt squat, which helped him work around a back injury. However, the higher price tag at Train Waco is harder to justify for some students.

Crunch Fitness, a competing gym less than five minutes away, attracts a different crowd. Houston sophomore Thomas Smith said he goes to Crunch Fitness because fewer Baylor students go, and he enjoys lifting by himself and “not talking to people.”

“Crunch is cheaper too, so it’s kind of an economic decision,” Smith said.

Whereas rates at Train Waco range from $26.99 to $122 every four weeks, rates at Crunch Fitness start at $9.99 and go up to $36.99 per month.

While Train Waco can be appealing to those with advanced fitness goals and Crunch Fitness is able to bring down the price, the SLC remains a top choice for many Baylor students due to its convenience and sense of community.

“It’s already on campus and paid for with my student fees,” Houston sophomore Aaron Fossen, a frequenter of the SLC, said. “It’s also an easy walk from my classes.”

Fossen said he appreciates the social aspect of working out at the SLC.

“You end up seeing a lot of people you know, making it a great social environment and a great place to work out,” Fossen said. “I like to work out with other people to push myself even more.”

For some Baylor students — like New Braunfels senior Davis Austin, who is preparing for an Ironman triathlon on April 27 — the choice of where to train goes beyond the walls of a gym.

“We bike to the China Springs area,” Austin said. “And [the] run from our house goes down to the Riverwalk near Cameron Park. For our open water swims, we will be going to Lake Waco, but so far, we have only been able to swim in the pools about twice a week.”

Austin said he decided to train for the Ironman with his roommates as opposed to at a gym because of the flexibility.

“Training for an Ironman, you can choose your own hours,” Austin said. “I don’t have to rely on when a gym opens or closes. I’m looking to struggle, accomplish a goal and cross a finish line. You can’t do that at a gym.”

Regardless of where Baylor students choose to pursue their fitness goals, one thing stands out: The gym can be more than just a place to work out. For many, it offers a community of ambitious, like-minded individuals who can motivate each other to reach new heights or weights.

“My fitness goals are beating my past self,” Fossen said. “While I have spent time at a few gyms in Waco, the community at Baylor is what helped with the consistency I need to hit those goals.”