City Style: Sweat Shops

New York export Equinox invades the Boston fitness scene this month. We put it head-to-head with our city’s reigning gym, the swish Sports Club/LA.

The Champ
The Sports Club/LA
4 Avery St., Boston, 617-375-8200,

The Slogan: “The finest sports and fitness complex in the world.”
The Scene: Two levels offer 114,000 square feet of prime people-watching (and, okay, sweating) areas, including a pool, spinning studio, squash court, cardio section, and large new “BodyMind” yoga/Pilates studios.
Butt Kickers: Stretching star David Magone’s PranaVayu yoga, Marc McDonald’s martial arts–meditation hybrid Budokon, and 35 other types of group workouts
Kicking Back: The in-house Splash spa could hold its own on Newbury, with A-list mani-pedi, facial, wax, massage, and Chinese medicine offerings.
Refueling: New chef Michael Kraus presides over both the just-renovated fine-dining restaurant Blu, and the club’s heath-conscious café.
Parking: $5 with validation, downstairs
Celebrity Factor: Close proximity to the Ritz doesn’t hurt: Justin Timberlake worked out here while in town; so did Pink.
Cost: Initiation fees start at $425, and monthly membership at $140.

The Challenger
Equinox, 131 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-578-8918,

The Slogan: “It’s not fitness. It’s life.”
The Scene: The “cobblestone and glass”–themed 42,000-square-foot space contains 100-plus cardio machines, six class studios, a WiFi lounge, and a retail shop that stocks fashions by Stella McCartney and Lululemon.
Butt Kickers: More than 60 to choose from, including boxing, spinning, Pilates, and the only Kinesis classes in Boston
Kicking Back: There’s four private rooms for basic massage treatments, plus a “tropical body smoothie” mask made from papaya and honey.
Refueling: A juice bar—more smoothies!—is open to members and the public alike, and serves a light breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
>b>Parking: $5 with validation, next door
Celebrity Factor: Mark Wahlberg, Paris Hilton, and Julianne Moore have all sweated it out at various Equinoxes.
Cost: Average enrollment fees hover around $475, with $134 monthly dues.

Bottom Line: Both have childcare centers, next-day laundry service, and spacious locker rooms (Equinox’s stock $400 hair dryers). The Sports Club dwarfs Equinox in size and prestige, but the latter’s convenient Back Bay location beats trekking to the Ladder District by far. Equinox’s entirely carpet-free interior and slatted wooden shower floors keep gym germs in check, while time-pressed primpers love blow-outs at the Sports Club’s on-site hair salon. We’ll hit the Sports Club for BodyMind classes and special occasions (i.e., J.T.’s next trip to town), and join the more intimate Equinox as our day-to-day gym.