Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fitness Center or Gym?

Years ago, upon being offered a job on a hotshot crew, I joined my first gym. It was small, member key operated, and rarely visited by its management.  There wasn't a cardio machine in sight, only free weights and dumbbells, leg press and curl machines, and a Smith rack. It was frequented by serious bodybuilders.  The gym's only concession to aerobic fitness was some sort of step aerobics classes, attended only by women who favored leotards.  Occasionally the bodybuilders would peer longingly at them through the glass door that separated the fitness room from the weights.  I saw no other women in the weight area.  One of the bodybuilders took an interest and showed me some basic lifting moves which I still use today.  Sadly, he turned out to be the jealous type and I ended up having to avoid him by going to the gym during different hours, but by then I knew what I was doing.

Since then I have belonged to many workout facilities, from the fancy one in Central Oregon where women would run on the treadmills in full makeup wearing sports bras and booty shorts, long hair flowing, to a tiny one featuring Singing Woman, Angry Running Lady and Inappropriate Shorts Man, but which had the best Pilates teacher ever.  There have also been a succession of employee gyms, management's concession to remote locations, which usually had rickety benches, dim lighting, and someone's collection of Rage Against the Machine CDs.

Now I belong to a fitness center.  Recently the flooring was being redone and they moved some of the weights into one of the gymnasiums.  Going in there, I instantly felt comfortable.  I knew why.  It looked like a real gym.

My fitness center has four pools, one of which is the same size as my house.  Racquetball courts.  A kids' play area.  Acres of machines.  Several gymnasiums and class areas. Two snack bars that sell smoothies and other food, including chips (I don't have anything against chips. But who eats chips at a gym?).  It is also always busy, because I live in a resort town where a lot of people don't have to work.  Group classes are mostly during the day, presumably for the same reason.  It's expensive because of all the extras.
Uncharacteristically empty
I'm thinking of quitting it and joining a less expensive one, but I can't decide.  I don't miss having to lurk around waiting for the one good elliptical, like I've had to at other gyms.  Even if a lot of people are lifting, I can usually find a corner and dumbbells to use.  At smaller facilities, one hoarder can take up the whole weight area.  But I miss the no-frills gym atmosphere, where there's not a lot of socializing and people are more serious, where whole sections of the facility aren't dedicated to the latest workout fad.

Any thoughts? Which would you choose?

8 comments:

  1. I have the one room gym dominated by one tv. I only wish there was a Pool. I'd keep the fancy one. I have to wait for the elliptical and it's not fun.

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    1. I guess. I remember the one room gym days and the dash to get there to beat my coworker to the one good elliptical.

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  2. Sigh....I belong to a "budget" gym, but fantasize about joining the new fancy health club down the street. (Sadly hubby says we can't afford it) If it were me, I'd stay with the nicer gym.

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    1. You're probably right. It seems so expensive for what I use it for. But I'd probably regret quitting it.

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  3. The gym I go to now is huge. Even when it's busy, there's an empty machine somewhere. My last gym had machines with duct tape on them (I'm not kidding!) If you really like the gym you are at now and you can afford to keep going, I say stick with that one. But there's no harm shopping around and seeing if there is something out there that suits you better.

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  4. The gym I go to now is huge. Even when it's busy, there's an empty machine somewhere. My last gym had machines with duct tape on them (I'm not kidding!) If you really like the gym you are at now and you can afford to keep going, I say stick with that one. But there's no harm shopping around and seeing if there is something out there that suits you better.

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  5. I go to the fitness center my city offers and it is amazing. It is right by my recording studio and it was completely remodeled a few years ago. It is a big more expensive than going to the gym, but it is so worth it. There are pools, racquetball courts, and more. It is so worth it.

    Isaac Bush @ Orange Theory Fitness Folsom

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