Just part of the weight-training equipment available at Iron Pit Gym. Photo by Rodney Margison

The first in a series about fitness facilities in Bloomington. 


All large fitness facilities have a few things in common—cardio and weight machines, free weights, group exercise classes, personal trainers. But if you want to join a gym, you need to figure out which one is right for you. Here, we focus on four of the largest fitness facilities in Bloomington. 

Monroe County YMCA
Southeast Branch, 2125 S. Highland Ave. 
Northwest Branch, 1375 N. Wellness Way

Synergy 360, shown here, is a modular, multi-purpose training option available for small group exercise and clients working with personal trainers at the Northwest Branch of the Monroe County YMCA. Courtesy photo

With two locations, the Monroe County YMCA is one of the largest facilities in town. The southeast location offers two pools, indoor and outdoor tracks, racquetball courts, and hardwood basketball courts. “Northwest is smaller but newer,” says Kevin Vail, membership director and manager of the Northwest Branch. “The only features we don’t mirror from Southeast are hot tubs and racquetball courts.” Both branches feature a full array of cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights. Personal trainers are available to members for a fee.

Cara McGowan, exercise director at Southeast, notes there are about 120 group exercise classes offered each week at the Y—and about half of those are free to members. “There is something for everyone at any point in the day,” McGowan says. 

Unique to the YMCA: Play & Learn. Both branches offer two-hours of free drop-off child care to parents while they are on the premises.

Iron Pit Gym
5006 S. Rogers St. 

Matt Andrews and Doug Ballard first opened Iron Pit on East Miller Drive in 1995. This year, they opened a new 16,000- square-foot facility, doubling the gym’s size. It’s quiet, thanks to carpeted flooring under the cardio and weight machines, rubber in the free weight area, and artificial turf in an area set aside for pushing sleds and flipping tires. 

New members are given an orientation to the facility. “Seventy percent of the people who walk in have done their research and they have their workout,” Andrews says. For the rest, Ballard and Andrews are ready to set up a workout to get them started. Personal trainers are available for a fee to members. 

Unique to Iron Pit: Members can purchase a key that allows them to access the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Twin Lakes Recreation Center
1700 W. Bloomfield Road

Twin Lakes Recreation Center is a City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department facility. “It’s a catch-all gym,” says Megan Stark, membership coordinator. “We don’t specialize in anything, but we have something for almost everyone.” Twin Lakes has the usual cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights. It also has a 1/5-mile suspended track that circles five hardwood basketball courts. All five are striped for volleyball and four are striped for pickleball. 

Employees are trained to help new members develop a workout. “We review their current workout, go over each piece of equipment, and help them set goals,” Stark says. All group exercise classes are free, and personal trainers are available for a fee to members. 

Unique to Twin Lakes: An indoor soccer field that Stark says is utilized by everyone from Bloomington Soccer and the IU Rugby club team to an ultimate Frisbee league. 

Indiana University Campus Recreational Sports
Indiana University 

Kathy Bayless, executive director of IU Campus Recreational Sports, points out there are multiple facilities associated with her organization—and you don’t have to be affiliated with IU to join. “Membership includes access to the SRSC [Student Recreational Sports Center] and the Intramural Center, as well as the outdoor tennis courts and Woodlawn Field,” Bayless says. Among those facilities, there are multiple cardio and weight machines, free weights, indoor and outdoor tracks, basketball courts, pools, and more. And IU offers 80 drop-in group exercise classes—all free to members.

Cardio equipment is a place where IU shines, Bayless says. “We have so many pieces of cardio that we don’t have waiting lines or time limits anymore,” she says. “We’ve solved that problem.” 

Unique to IU: While most facilities require those utilizing the services of a personal trainer to be a member, IU allows its trainers to work with non-member clients at its on-campus facilities. 

Coming in August/September: smaller places to work up a sweat.