Kennedy Club Fitness San Luis Obispo Multiplex
188 Tank Farm Rd. San Luis Obispo, CA
Membership Required: Yes. Go here for a free four- visit guest pass (must be 18 and a local resident… but it doesn’t have to say you live in SLO on your driver’s license! So nice). The guest pass also includes a friend. Otherwise, visits are $12 per.
Membership Price: Cal Poly and Cuesta students are normally $100 to start, but the 30th Anniversary special makes the enrollment fee $30. After that, each month costs $49 for six months or more; cancellation before the six-month contract is up has a $75 cancellation fee. Members of the community pay $200 down and $55 a month.
Without the six month contract, you can get one month for $75 and three months for $199.
- Cal Poly & Cuesta Students: $30+$49/month (six month min)
- Community Members: $30+$55/ month (six month min)
- 1 month: $75
- 3 months: $199
All memberships include all amenities.
Distance from Cal Poly: 5.7 miles
Courts: basketball (indoor), racquetball, handball, squash, sand volleyball
Kennedy Club Fitness is nicer than any gym I’ve ever been to. Nicer than the gym in the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino, which came with a private sauna and a little man who walked around with a tray of towels and water. Nicer than the Boston Sports Club, which pretty much had a free personal trainer for every customer. Those clubs had nice perks, but Kennedy looks nice- the people look nice, the machines look nice, even the potted plants look nice. Everyone I made eye contact with smiled and said hello. After all, Kevin and Barb Kennedy “are committed to making San Luis Obispo the healthiest place in the world” on the heels of Oprah’s “Happiest City” proclamation.
The couple started their fitness empire in 1981 with a few Nautilus machines and a racquetball court; now, Kennedy has fitness clubs in Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, and Arroyo Grande. They’ve since expanded their amenities to include spas, wellness centers, Olympic- sized swimming pools, farmer’s markets, group exercise classes and more. SLO’s 52,000 square foot facility claims the most space, with three exercise studios, a Cardio Theater, child care, a medically supervised Wellness Center and a “clubhouse” for business and other special events, including weddings.
Roberto, one of Kennedy’s managers, says he sees mostly students coming through the doors because of the Rec Center expansion project. Cuesta students also use the gym, which has a special place in San Luis much like the local community college. “Kennedy is really good for athletes because there are a lot of courts,” says Mike Wallace, who plays basketball for Cuesta. Indeed, the gym has something for everybody.
“There are a lot of great classes, the gym is always well taken care of (towels stocked, things put back where they belong, etc) and there are enough weights and cardio equipment,” says Siobhan Sullivan, a Cal Poly industrial engineering senior. “I like that it has a rowing machine – not all gyms do.”
So which exercise class is the most popular? “People love anything that has to do with movement, dancing, music,” says Roberto. “The group dances, Zumba, those are popular…[people] don’t know what to do [when they] hear ‘take a dance class’, but they just move to their rhythm, move to the music, and they end up enjoying it.”
He adds, “I think guys are a little bit afraid of it, but we’re slowly getting in there.”
After my first visit to Kennedy, I felt a bit overwhelmed, like a person going to New York City for the first time. There was so much to experience; seeing everything in a single day seemed impossible. It’s an ambitious business with humble roots. I felt that the club was maybe a little too ambitious- I definitely don’t list “Wellness Center” or “Place To Have My Wedding” among what I look for in a gym. The family- friendly atmosphere has immediately inviting face value, but the management system had me running in a million different directions to get the information I needed; I felt like no single employee knew enough to help me. Also, everyone who works out at Kennedy looks gorgeous. I felt like they had to pass a fitness test just to get through the door. During my visit, several guys at the elliptical got really into the Broncos/ Chargers game. It was clear that members felt a sense of camaraderie, like they came for an experience rather than a quick- n- dirty workout.
“Most of the people that go there are serious about their fitness, so it’s motivating to go and work out in that environment,” says Siobhan.
Additionally, this is a gym for early birds: doors open at 5 AM and close at 10 PM during the week, Saturday goes 7 to 7, and on Sunday the club stays open from 8 to 6. It doesn’t have the anytime accessibility of Club 24 (also, it’s on Tank Farm- closer to the airport than the aerospace engineering building), but the Kennedy Kafe, which serves health food and smoothies, stays open on weekends.
“It’s expensive, but it’s worth it.” adds a member.