The Battle of the Gyms

Going gym-free made me anxious. I felt unsettled about the whole thing. I need a place. A place that’s mine, that I feel comfortable, that I can say “It’s Sunday, this is where I go swim” etc.

Choosing which gym to join after my old membership expired was complicated. The biggest issue: the pool. I had to have access to a pool. I needed other things gyms have to offer but they weren’t priorities. I rarely do classes. I can technically workout at home or at the free gym at work. While I prefer weight machines at a gym and access to treadmills when the weather is nasty, they aren’t the end-all-be-all. I have access to free weights at home and a track next to my house. I could suck it up and run in the rain all winter long. There’s a lot of outdoor things I can do to stay fit, including biking to work.

So it really did come down to the pool issue.

The Negotiations

The negotiations didn’t go as expected for 24hr fitness. I went in there with a practiced speech and strong intentions. The sales girl took me back and asked me if I’d had a chance to try their new “super sport” features. I said, “Yes I have and I’m not impressed with any of the upgrades, so that’s not a selling point for me.”

Before I could even continue my speech, she told me my best bet was to buy the Costco deal for two years. It was my last resort–my only card to play. I was going to negotiate for the Costco rate or a little less if I could pay them directly and skip Costco (then they get all the money and don’t have to give Costco a cut). She said no go. Basically, there’s no deals, no negotiations, no specials beyond the month-to-month rate that I would be Grandfathered in at, or Costco Deal. Funny, huh? Apparently no one is hurting for business in this horrible economy that they can turn away business and money. Weird.

The Break Down

24 Hour Fitness

  • Positive: Close to both home and work.
  • Positive: Convenient hours.
  • Positive and Negative: Costco has a 2 year deal for $599.
  • Positive: With Costco deal, I’d have access to the nicer, newer version that’s near work.
  • Negative: “Upgrades” did not upgrade quality of gym, just doubled the price.
  • Negative: Expensive.
  • Negative: Dirty, lots of broken machines all the time.
  • Negative: Crowded, busy, parking sucks.
  • Negative: Hot tub/spa/sauna frequently broken.
  • Negative: weird clientele.

LA Fitness

  • Positive: Clean, new.
  • Positive: Not as busy as 24hr, machines not broken all the time.
  • Positive: A few friends workout there.
  • Negative: Inconvenient location to both home and work.
  • Negative: Not as many locations to choose from that are convenient.
  • Negative: Shorter hours than 24 Hour Fitness.
  • Negative: Couldn’t get a 7 Day pass to test the gym.
  • Negative: Middle of the road in terms of cost.
  • Negative: Negative experience with salespeople.

Bally’s Total Fitness

  • Positive: Cheaper than most.
  • Positive: Good location for both home and work.
  • Negative: No pool.
  • Negative: Internet rumors about how impossible it is to cancel membership there.

Mt. Scott Community Center

  • Positive: It’s my old gym/pool. Comfortable, familiar.
  • Negative: Inconvenient location to both home and work.
  • Negative: Rather expensive compared to other places.
  • Negative: Dealing with screaming children at the pool.
  • Negative: Inconvenient open hours, inconvenient lap swim hours.
  • Negative: Trying to plan my swim schedule around kid swim lessons, water aerobics, swim team, etc etc.

Clackamas Aquatic Park

  • Positive: Nice pool, fairly cheap.
  • Positive: Decent location.
  • Negative: No other workout facilities beyond the pool.
  • Negative: Dealing with screaming children at the pool.
  • Negative: Inconvenient open hours, inconvenient lap swim hours.
  • Negative: Trying to plan my swim schedule around kid swim lessons, water aerobics, swim team, etc etc.

 Various Local Gyms

  • Negatives: Inconvenient locations, time, no pool or restricted lap swim times.
  • Positives: Not a “big name gym.” Not much of a positive, huh?

I feel discouraged. It should be a simple process to find a gym. Yes, I knew going into this that I’d have to be prepared to walk away if I didn’t like the deal–and I have. I walked away several times and had no problem doing that. Until I started looking for other pools and seeing my options dwindle. I’d have to radically change my entire workout routine for the community pools to work for my schedule.

See my problem?

So in the end: I decided to go back to the familiar, more convenient gym. It was the right choice. I feel happy that I’ve made a decision, even if I didn’t last long going gym-free. This challenge taught me something: I DO need a place. Sure in a pinch I can do other activities at home, but that’s just not my preferred method to workout. I want to physically go somewhere and do my workout, then come home. I think part of this is the “process” and “ritual” of going to a gym for my 1.5 hour session. It’s part of the routine, it’s the norm.

If this is the equation that has made me successful in keeping off 100 pounds for over 3 years, I need to keep doing it. 

I am now the happy owner of a 2 year gym membership. No more stress for 2 years!

QUESTION: What are the negatives and positives of your current gym? What equation helps you?

An Open Letter to LA Fitness



Dear LA Fitness,

I’m a loyal gym-goer. I’m the type of person that will make the most of my gym membership. I love having a gym membership and it is definitely something that I believe is worth the money. It’s my “me time.” I love having a “place” that’s mine where I know I will go to stay fit and healthy.

I’m the poster child for gym-going.  In fact, for the last year and a half that I’ve had my blog, 110 Pounds and Counting, I’ve been writing about my experiences at 24 Hour Fitness–free advertising for them and I never asked for anything in return. I wrote about my workouts, the machines, the pool, my experiences with the personal trainers, and the classes I’ve tried.  I’m happy that I can say I have inspired my readers to challenge themselves physically in order to get fit and healthy. The entire goal of my website was to inspire and help people who want to lose weight.

My membership with 24 Hour Fitness expired recently so I decided to go gym shopping to find the perfect gym for me and my fitness needs.  It really is a shame that you were so adamant against giving me a 7-day Guest Pass to your facilities. As a result, I’m writing this open-letter to you and to all my dear readers who are joining me in my search for a new gym.

I could be angry with your poor customer service. You were pushy and aggressive and it turned me off.  This is not the end of the world because really I only have to have contact with Mr. Aggressive Sales Guy once and then I can use the gym without interacting with him at all. I was willing to overlook the aggressive sales pitch to see the gym for what it had to offer. You never gave me that option, though, so the impression I have is a negative one.

I could be outraged at the cowardly actions of the sales person who instead of having a conversation with me, just decided to go back on their word. He promised to email me a 7-Day pass and I never received that. I never even received a phone call or an email stating that I wouldn’t get a pass. Why take the cowardly way out? Why is it so bad to negotiate with a potential customer? I guess you don’t want my business.

There were things I really did like about LA Fitness but because of the poor service I received LA Fitness is not even in the running for my choice.

You should rethink the way you run your business. Your 7-Day Guest Passes aren’t gold. Trust me. I can get a Guest Pass for any gym and it’s not treated like I’m asking for the world. And trust this: you wanted me as a customer.



Someone Who Will Not Be Giving You Money