So I have decided to add a gym to my options for work outs. I’ve been going to boot camp and tennis, with a little apartment gym for filler. The problem, as mentioned in my last post, was that both were quite hard on my body. Sure, sure – no pain, no gain. I believe there’s something to that. However, when there is pain, I think it’s important to listen to your body and modify your work outs.
The trouble with modified work outs (for me, at the moment), is I don’t have a lot of low-impact options. And so, I have decided to join a gym to have more options of equipment, classes, and such. For example, in this particular situation I’m in, with a bum hip that keeps me from walking comfortably, I could still take advantage of a lap pool, yoga and *maybe* a bike (all of which I have very little access to).
And before I get to the meat of this little (or not so little, as it’s turning out) blog post, let me describe my apartment gym. Five treadmills (4 work properly), three bikes (none of which track heart rate / calorie burn), two ellipticals, which are available for use but make racket as they “work,” and two stair climbers (which I admittedly have never touched). Not bad. The weight room is decent, but they don’t have “opposite” machines (i.e., there is a hamstring machine, but no quad machine). So, equipment-wise, I’d give them a 5 out of 10. The disadvantages: a homeless man was once found camping out in the men’s restroom sauna. The apartment complex forgets to restock the toilet paper. Random supposed tenants come in to horse around (they are generally dressed in jeans and Jordan’s). Then there’s the guy that works out barefoot…. So yeah, I would really like to find a safer place (both machines and clientele) to work out in.
Here are the six I have visited thus far:
This was the first stop on my quest for gyms. I’ve had a membership with this gym (different location) before, and the one I is truly the most convenient location to both work and home. Why oh why does every Gold’s Gym feel like a basement inside? It’s usually low ceilings, overly-mirrored walls, and the smell of rubber mats. Anyways, the sales guy was super nice. He asked lots of questions about what I’ve been doing, why I was there, what was and wasn’t working for me, etc. His approach was all about the five-components of fitness (ummmm, cardio, strength, nutrition, coaching and…..(forgetting….) Oh! supplements). After a little info gathering, he paired me up with a trainer to show me the gym. The trainer was quite honestly a little full of himself, and quite presumptuous about me and my current habits. For instance he assumed that because I was (1) large and (2) at a gym that I had never worked out in my life (yes, I am large, but I used to be larger). He also walked around with his chest puffed out – not sure why, smugly smacking his gum.
After the tour, I was handed back off to the original sales guy who took me through an online simulator that showed where I would be in two months (see picture below). Interesting, but not enough to sell me. And of course, the packages all included pricey personal training. That is, the first ones mentioned. $1600 for 36 personal training sessions plus $16.99 every 2 weeks for gym membership (that was the premium options). Then a $700 option, then $550, and so on and so forth. And of course, the more you sign up for TODAY, the better your deal. But, as it turns out, my company gets a little discount there ($14.95 every two weeks). It’s definitely a cheap option.
The offer classes, but they only have one room, so there aren’t say three classes all happening at any given hour. They DO have Zumba and Body Pump, which I like. No pool at this particular location, but other Gold’s do offer them.
Pure Austin Fitness:
As I arrived, it felt as though the clouds started letting beams of sunlight shine down to illuminate this building. I walked in and the place was full of windows, clean, and with a real Austin vibe. They offered me a bottled water while I waited for the sales girl to sit down with me. As I found my seat, I started to peruse the class list – yoga, Pilates, cycling, open-water swim (they have a lake!), lap swimming (there’s also a pool), stand-up paddle board, boot camp, pure pump, rock climbing, and kayaking. They call themselves the indoor gym for outdoor people – and they deliver!
With their class list, I realized I’d get the occasional boot camp, if I wanted it, but with options for other things when my body starts to hold me back from the high impact workouts (like yoga and swimming). And, the price is comparable to boot camp, so this could actually potentially replace my boot camp – without giving up the thrill of it. And so, with the remaining budget, I can do Tennis (not part of the gym), OR I can take advantage of this gym’s bonus clinics.
As for pricing, there are 6 different plans that range from $66 – $116 per month, depending on how much of a commitment you give, how much you pay in advance, etc.
24 Hour Fitness:
Perhaps it is because I’d just come from the creme de la creme of gyms (IMHO), but this place was not my cup of tea. I felt like I was in a 1980s music video with peach and green walls, mirrors, and steamy spots. The place smelled like a sock, the showers had like 10% privacy, the bathrooms were incredibly muggy, and even on a Friday night, it was packed with people.
The sales guy was so off his game that I wondered if he liked his job. Don’t get me wrong, he was polite, but did not give a flip about selling me a membership. He gave me a tour, gave me prices, and answered my questions, but there was certainly no sales pitch (which I was glad for).
As I was pretty much over this place by the time we get to pricing, my memory is fuzzy. I think it was about $60 for a registration fee, and $35 a month. Rumor has it that Costco offers a 2 year membership for like $300 (or something similarly crazy-good), making this place an even more affordable option, if you have a Costco membership.
This place surprised me. I had heard about $10 per month memberships and expected a run-down place. Quite the opposite. They had TONS of equipment, all in working order. The place smelled good. The one big disadvantage was that they offer no classes. So in terms of what it offers, it’s no better than my apartment gym, except the machines are probably in better working order, and they likely have toilet paper (I didn’t check). If you’re into this sort of thing (and I’m not, though admittedly was at one time), they have tanning beds. They also have massage chairs. Showers and such were very nice. And the pricing was the cheapest of all the gyms I went to (unless the Costco rumor about 24 Hour Fitness is true) – including sign-up fees. $10 – 20 per month, again based on commitment and how many gyms you want to go to.
If this place were not eight miles from home, and in the opposite direction of the office, this might be The One. The largest gym I visited, it has ALL kinds of amenities, including free towels when you work out, free blow dryers, an Aveda salon and cafe/bistro. In the aquatics area they have, ahem: two hot tubs, a lap pool with 5 lanes and 82 deg. water, an indoor family pool with slides, an outdoor pool area with shaded lounge chairs and misters, plus another cantina restaurant. Almost the entire second floor was cardio equipment and weights, plus three or five studios for their plethora of classes. Back to the first floor, they had volleyball, basketball, rock climbing, squash and racquetball.
One thing that kind of annoyed me here was that a lot of stuff costs extra. Like, though a yoga class is free, the yoga clinic is $25. Nutrition seminars, dance classes, etc. are all $25. Their trainers are $75/hour. The food isn’t cheap. It’s just that a lot of the things that particularly enticed me all seem to come with an extra fee. Bummer.
This was a very family centric place. That by no means is a turn-off for me, but as these are nation-wide at this point, just something to know. They even have a family locker room, where both moms and dads can go.
Membership was about $70 to sign up and $72 per month, though they have regular specials on the sign-up fee. Also, there are about $300 in perks when you sign up, which you can use for personal training, some of their pay-for classes, etc.
Sadly, this place depressed me. I was hopeful going in – because it has an excellent location for me and offers aquatics based classes (think Zumba in the water). However it was small, a little run-down, and not a place I would look forward to going. But, it is ladies-only, which is a big plus if you are someone who worries about your pony-tail bouncing cutely while you run on the treadmill (I don’t care myself, but am happy when it does). You also won’t get the gross grunting of men, nor the steroidal people hoarding all the tools needed to use the ropey-like machines (what are they called?).
Memberships are on par with 24-hour fitness.
Decisions decisions. I think the decision is pretty clear, though I threw my options into a custom spreadsheet I created. Come back soon to have a peek!