Mt. Scott pool

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.

Β 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.Β 

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?

Gym-Free Swimming Challenge

Monday I got home a little before noon. Michael was golfing with Charles on the way home from our camping trip so I had the day to do whatever I wanted. I unpacked, did laundry and then headed to my old pool. Being gym-free on swim days are stressful. I didn’t have any other options than to go to Mt. Scott Community Pool. It was where I started swimming to lose weight. It was where I worked really hard to lose over 100 pounds. I have very fond memories of Mt. Scott.


I also have some not so great memories of the place, which I remembered once I was there on Monday to swim. I arrived about 11:45 and was expecting it to be empty. I mean, it was the middle of the day on a work/school day. I paid the drop-in fee and got changed in the locker room. The pool wasn’t packed but it was busy. The whole pool was dedicated to lap swimming. Every lane had at least 2 people in it. I groaned inwardly and remembered what I disliked about community pools: sharing the lane when it was crowded.


I got in the fast lane with two other people already in it and they circle swam. I also remembered another thing I didn’t like about sharing a lane: everyone goes at a different pace. Even being in the fast lane with other fast swimmers, it’s so hard to find the right pacing. I had to slow down and sometimes stop in the middle of the lane because the guy in front of me wasn’t quite faster than me. I know it sounds petty to be annoyed with other swimmers in the lane but it really is hard to find swimmers who are evenly matched in pace. It’s hard to get a good workout when you have to stop a lot or slow to a breast stroke or dog paddle because you’ve caught up to the person in front of you.


Eventually one of the people in my lane left and we didn’t have to circle swim anymore. The rest of my swim was really enjoyable. It brought back fond memories of my time spent there. The pool at Mt. Scott really is a nice one.


By the time I was done with my 1.5 mile swim the lanes were all empty. Can you believe it? I guess I just picked the wrong time to go.


I relaxed in the hot tub and then took a shower. Where I remembered yet another thing I didn’t like about Mt. Scott: the showers. They are small and the water only stays on for about 15 seconds at a time before automatically shutting off.


You wouldn’t think that’s a big deal but it is when you’re in the middle of the shower and your water shuts off every 15 seconds. It’s these little things that remind me why I must have a gym membershipΒ somewhere.

Don’t let me discourage any Portlanders from using Mt. Scott, however. It suited my purposes just fine for 3 years. I used to work out in their small gym:


It had treadmills, ellipticals, weight machines and free weights. It was convenient to where I lived and in my price range. The pool is really nice, too. I definitely recommend Mt. Scott to anyone in the area looking for an affordable option. I just moved beyond this place and needed more in a gym.

Swim Stats:
Time: 57 minutes
Calories Burned: 400

Despite my minor annoyances, I was really glad I went and got in a swim session. I love swimming so much–it would be a really hard thing to give up. Until I figure out the gym thing I will probably drop-in to Mt. Scott for awhile.

The other part I disliked about swimming there: it took me two hours on Monday to swim. I had to drive to Mt. Scott, change, swim, sit in the hot tub, shower, dress, and drive home. Two hours? Two hours out of my life. It’s just not a convenient location to go to for me. πŸ™

Monday night’s dinner was a quick and easy dinner. I didn’t feel like going big grocery shopping after camping all weekend. I bought a rotisserie chicken from the store and made us salads, complete with tomatoes from our garden.

It was a good, quick dinner when I really didn’t have much motivation to cook.

QUESTION: If you are a swimmer, how do you deal with pacing when sharing a lane with other people?