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?

12 Responses

  1. Do you live near any colleges or universities (or heck, even high schools)? Many of them offer community rates and have gorgeous facilities (and pools!). I never thought about that until I started at my current gym, but it’s a great option.

    I have a membership to a college gym and have access to weights, cardio machines, a pool, and an indoor/outdoor track. It’s pretty great. I also joined a CrossFit box, which is totally different but I love it too.
    Brie @ Brie Fit recently posted..Soup weather

    1. It’s a great idea in theory. Unfortunately I don’t live near any college campuses. PCC Sylvania has a really nice pool and gym facility–unfortunately it’s about a 35 minute drive from where I live.

  2. Having worked at 24 hour, I can tell you that the corporation has taken away any option of negotiation from the staff. They “keep it simple” -or perhaps “keep it honest”?- by only providing set in stone options.

    It kind of sucks.

    That said, I paid for a 3 year membership 5 years ago that came with continued $25/year renewals when it expired. For that price, I can overlook a lot from the gym.

    If the machines are frequently broken, complain. To the manager. And -if given the chance- take the email survey and let them know there. That survey affects the monthly bonuses that all the employees are eligible for and broken equipment is a BIG DING for not getting a bonus. (I worked there for 6 months and never got a bonus).
    deb roby recently posted..Countdown to Bionic

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Deb! Good to know that stuff. I do fill out all the surveys they would email me and I’d frequently report the broken machines to the front desk. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to make a difference. But in the end it came down to convenience for me–location and hours–so I could overlook the annoying things at my gym. The good news: my new membership means I have access to one of the new gyms that’s really nice!

    1. I know which one downtown you are talking about. Parking would be a huge pain in the butt.

      That’s funny that they still contact you. At least that’s good business, right? Keep testing the waters to see if you can be brought back…I didn’t get a single phone call, letter OR email from LA Fitness!

  3. I’m a 24 Hour member but rarely go to the gym. I like the locations, but more importantly it’s the gym my siblings belong to. When I first started working out, I’d go with them to the gym occasionally and they’d show me how to use machines/free weights. Also, since my siblings are members, I got grandfathered in to a sweet family deal (they even overlooked the same address requirement, I think my sister was friends with some of the staff). I pay $15/month.

    I also have access to the gym at school. I use other workout/recreation facilities there like the track, but have never used the gym as it’s pretty crowded.
    cindylu recently posted..The new girl

    1. That is definitely a sweet deal!! When I first joined 24hr I did a Costco deal with was like $300 for 2 years or maybe it was $250…either way it broke down to about $12 a month. Can’t go wrong with that.

  4. I feel for you! I am fortunate in that I have I have an amazing gym that fits all of my criteria and it’s 1/2 mile from my house. But before I joined it, I was paying far less for 24Hour and never went b/c it was far. Convenience is a lot. I think you made the right choice too!

    1. That does sound like a fantastic situation. Convenience makes a huge deal for me. If I have a long commute to get to the gym, I’m going to be annoyed every day. It’s a small thing, I know, but I know myself. I won’t travel far to go to the gym!

  5. Hi Lisa, so glad the gym issue is resolved. Gyms are funny aren’t they???? Mine is more focussed on making money than people’s fitness. They’re ALWAYS trying to upsell, some “normal” classes cost over and above monthly dues, and the facilities themselves aren’t always “up to snuff” but like you, I feel I need to go for myself. I’ve tried 3 over the last few years, and seems they’re all the same, so I just pick the best for me and go for it… Have a great day!!!
    Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted..International Talk Like A Pirate Day…

    1. I understand that it’s a business for them and they don’t really care about us personally….but that makes those smaller gyms more appealing. Who wants to be cattle? Just another number in a long line of people…I wish my gym would take better care of the facilities. But the good news: I have access to a newer, nicer gym now.

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