LA Fitness

Is it a Good Fit?

Thank you all for the comments on my post yesterday, An Open Letter to LA Fitness.

The reason I posted the letter on my blog was because I believe it’s important for people to have the information before they make a big commitment to something like a gym membership. I think gym memberships are like renting apartments. You have to look at a lot of crappy places to see which one will fit you the best. Are there annoying neighbors? Are the apartments clean? Is the fridge always broken? Do the neighbors have trash in their front yard? Is the landlord a jerk that’s going to give you constant grief? Is the apartment worth the expensive rent?

It’s no different for a gym. If you are REALLY committed to losing weight, being healthy and happy you have to LIKE where you are going. You’re going to spend a lot of time there. Are the machines broken? Are the locker rooms clean? Is the pool clean? Are the other gym-goers friendly and do they clean up after they sweat all over a machine? Are the people that work there pleasant and helpful?

Gyms cost a lot of money. It is so worth the time and leg work to find the right one. I’m so glad that I found out early on that LA Fitness was NOT the kind of place I would life–before I was locked into a multiple year membership.

My intentions on publishing the letter were not to make any of my readers feel badly. I do know a few people that currently have memberships at LA Fitness and they enjoy it there. That’s great! I’m glad they did not have a negative experience there. My intentions were more to inform my readers of this experience AND to hopefully shame LA Fitness into rethinking some of their business practices.

When I left LA Fitness after my negative experience with them, my first thought was “I wonder how a newbie would feel if that was their experience?” Someone just starting their fitness journey could easily be discouraged by a negative experience and use that as a reason NOT to join a gym or get fit. Trust me,  I had plenty of negative experiences at gyms before I found one I felt comfortable at. I’m glad I didn’t let one or two bad apples sour the entire experience and keep me from getting fit!

I’m not asking my readers to boycott or protest LA Fitness. If you go there and enjoy it, right on! I’m just sharing my experiences. It is all part of the experience of going gym-free. I knew going gym-free would create a lot of writing material but had no idea it would be about this.

From the feedback I received from the post here, on Facebook and Twitter, I am not on an island by myself when it comes to negative experiences at LA Fitness. Which makes me sad.

A friend posted on Facebook: “I am so impressed. Way to actually stand up for customer rights. You rock.”

Tina said: “I used to workout at an LA Fitness and never liked it. unfortunately that is one of the only gym options in our area. I was SO thankful when a new gym (my current one) opened closer to me so I could leave that chain!”

Jill said: “Very well written, honest note. I think it is great that you let the company know how you were treated. So often letters like that need to be written- but we don’t take the time in our busy lives. We need to do this so is stops. Thank you for being a role model on so many different levels!!!”

Jenn said: “Like you, I’ve had a bad experience with LA Fitness’s employees that left me a bad taste in my mouth. Nothing wrong with the facilities. Very nice and state of the art and one of the few in my area with a swimming pool, but not worth the extremely aggressive sales pitch that I endured.”

Lots of other great comments. I appreciate everyone’s input! I still haven’t heard back from LA Fitness but if I ever do, I will post their response here.

I got home from work on Monday and Michael and I made an early dinner. We were both hungry–me because it was a rest day and I’d eaten light, him because he biked to work.  We went the easy route. Neither of us felt like going to the store to get anything else, so brats were it.

We still have some zucchini growing in the garden, despite the cool, damp weather that’s descended on Portland. I sliced up one zucchini and Michael grilled them up. I grated some fresh parmesan on top of the veggies.

We settled in to watch a few episodes of True Blood. I’m trying really hard to like the show but it is so dang cheesy it’s hard. Is anyone else struggling with it? What helped me was playing with Fat Kitty during the show. I blew bubbles and he went NUTS. It was totally adorable. He was jumping into the air trying to catch the bubbles, then getting confused when they popped. 🙂

We crawled into bed and I rested my head on Michael’s chest and immediately passed out. I haven’t been that tired in a long time!

QUESTION: What’s a popular TV show you are struggling to like?

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?