Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Revisiting the Gym

I've decided to join a gym again.  I belonged to my last gym for 15 months.  I went religiously for 13 months of that.  That was by far my most successful gym run in history.  Then, for whatever reason, I stopped going.  My schedule changed up and just couldn't make it work anymore.  I apparently lost my exercise mojo.  Well, now for whatever reason, it's back and I'm itching to get back to a gym and back to a workout routine.  I don't want to spend more than $30/month to go as I still may only be able to go once or twice a week. I'm going into one gym today to check it out.  They have a deal going for $9.95/month BUT that's only for the equipment, not classes.  It's $19.95/month for unlimited classes and use of equipment.  Still not bad.  The online reviews of the gym are iffy so we'll see how it goes.  I'm also thinking about going back to my old gym.  I really liked it and liked how the equipment was mostly new but the group classes offered at this other gym sound far more interesting.  They both have Zumba and yoga but the other gym has Body Pump and this:

A combination of ropes, chains, sandbags, kettle bells, heavy bags, tractor tires, sledgehammers and anything else we can use to create an intense cardio/strength workout.  This training will tax all the energy systems along the metabolic chain.

Sounds perfect for preparing me for the warrior dash.  Now this place isn't known for being altogether "women friendly."  I don't think it's UNfriendly but that's just not what it's known for but it can't hurt to check the place out.  I'm prepared for the hard sell.  I've joined enough gyms in my life to know what to expect and I'm way past sticker shock on pricing.  It's really about the amenities and what I actually need to get out of it.  So what am I looking for in a gym and what can I do without?  Everyone is different but here's my list (in no particular order):
  • Does the equipment look easy to use?  I admit that I was intimidated by weight machines several years ago so I actually did one of those "free training sessions" gyms always offer when you sign up and made them show me how to use everything.  Now it's my favorite part of the workout.  But there are SOME machines that still look confusing or that you need to be a contortionist to use.  Newer machines are usually more user friendly than older ones.
  • Are there TV's?  I know most of you rock out to some tunes on your ipod, iphone or whatever.  I enjoy TV on cardio machines.  Makes the time go by faster for me.  I'm just not that into music and my ipod is broken and I don't even own a smartphone or iphone.
    • If there are TV's.  Is it just one for a whole row of cardio equipment and is it on ESPN?  If there's one thing that WON'T get me through a workout, it's ESPN.
  • Do they have any group classes I'm interested in?  I like Zumba and wanted to try kickboxing at my old gym but that's kind of it as far as interest goes there.  This other gym has more variety and more "kick ass" classes than my old one.  
    • If I am interested, are there any held at a time I can get to?  It's great if they offer power yoga 3x a week but if it's always at 9 a.m. then that doesn't help me much.
  • Is there a Kids' Club?  This was VERY important to me at my old gym but I'm not as bothered by it now.  My kids didn't like it that much and there wasn't much for them to do.  It's nice to have the option but it's not a "must have" anymore
  • Is there a pool?  I don't care.  I never use them.
  • Does shower/locker room look like it's cleaned and kept up regularly?  Nothing grosser than a moldy shower in a gym.  Again, not a deal breaker as I don't plan on working out before work or anything to where I can't take a shower at home.  The locker room at my old gym was REALLY nice so it would be kinda tough to get used to but not impossible.  It makes me think though...if they aren't cleaning the showers, are they cleaning the equipment?  Just a thought.  
  • Does it feel comfortable?  This is the biggest one for me.  For a long, long time...I didn't feel comfortable in a gym...period.  If there were too few people, I felt like everyone was staring at the fat girl on the treadmill.  I couldn't blend in.  If there were too many people, I felt that I didn't have the right to take up time on a machine when it's obvious people in better shape needed it more than me (I know this is stupid, but it's the truth).  I got over all this and even started standing in the FRONT of group classes so I could see the instructor better.  I didn't care who was there as long as the machines I wanted were available.  I started trying new classes and new machines that I hadn't been instructed on.  I felt I BELONGED.  But there some gyms just have better layouts than others.  I don't want to be on a treadmill that's out in front of a bunch of meatheads lifting weights so these guys can stare at my ass the whole time.  
    • Also, are there other women there?  Now, it's true.  I don't get along with women as well as men but there's something creepy about being the only woman (or at least the only woman with the body of a woman and not one that's been steroided up) in a gym.  
    • Even if there are other women there...what type of women are there?  Is it a meat market gym?  Y'all know what I'm talking about on this one.  Are they about my age?  No offense to anyone who does Curves but that didn't work well for me at all.  I was in a room with a bunch of 50 and 60 something olds and the intensity just wasn't there to get me to where I needed to be.  
  • Price.  It's still a factor.  I've set a price limit for myself.  While I really want to go back to the gym, I can't break the bank doing it.  There are some seriously NICE gyms in my area with HUGE pools and water slides and massage services, juice bars...the works.  I can't afford them.  And really, I don't NEED them. All I need is what I listed up there above.  Nice cardio equipment with entertainment value and group classes at a convenient time.  That's it.  Those other things would be great but until I have the cash for that kind of thing, I'm not even going to take a tour.
So I printed my 7 day free pass to this other gym.  I'm going today to try it out.  Packed my gym bag for the first time in about 9 months.  I can't remember my lock combination...will have to ponder that today.  I'll definitely let you know how it goes.  So question to those of you who choose gyms over home fitness...
What's important to you in a gym?


tz said...

I'd have to say the TV's's like if I can be distracted with my eyes and ears, I might forget I'm exercising :D and I'm with you, NO ESPN....give a good guilty talk show...I can always pretend I didn't know how to change the channel if I get caught :D

Tina @ The Bandit Girl said...

No. 1: lack of meat market atmosphere...Real people at different fitness levels makes me feel more comfortable
No:2: Good easy to use equipment
No. 3: Variety of classes/activities at good prices (like free is best)
No 4: Not too crowded during the time I want to use it

Love my Y!

Morgan said...

I love your analyst spirit, I am a lister and your list makes me happy.

I am looking at gyms right now and I am looking for an affordable, non-judgey personal training program.

Variety in the machines and classes.

Close to home, I walk/jog home from work and if I could just swing by there too that would be awesome.

♫ Drazil ♪ said...

I love that you are going back. I was a gym rat once but now work out at home cuz it closed!