I am greatly enjoying the benefits I’ve earned from my year-long quest in tweaking my eating habits (seriously, I am now down a bra band size… that is better to me than going down a pant size!). But, I know I need to do more to get my weight down, manage my chronic pain, gain strength that I am sadly lacking, and generally get into a healthy routine. Yesterday, I interviewed a gym. That sounds weird. I checked out a gym and spent 30 minutes asking the manager every question I could think of while I had his undivided attention.
- The gym is small with a solid amount of long-term gym members that stick to a fairly specific routine. (According to the manager.)
- Peak usage is about 20 people on group fitness nights. Not bad at all. (According to the manager and the staff member that leads the group fitness classes.)
- They offer 3 different group fitness classes with a robust attendance considering their membership pool is small compared to larger gyms. (Schedule on the wall, attendance confirmed by the staff member.)
- The gym is open to members 24/7. (Key cards are provided to members, signs and a verbal warning to never open the door for anyone.)
- They have 5 treadmills, 5 ellipticals, 2 stationary bikes, a ton of free weights, and about 40 different weight machines that are each unique in function. (The pull up bar is literally 3 feet over my head but the assisted pull up/dip machine is really interesting.)
- All of the machines are on a weekly maintenance inspection/calibration rotation. (According to the manager.)
- The machines are clearly marked with pictures that show the way to use the machine and muscle groups that are worked. (Manager pointed this out and suggested I spend a good deal of attention to reading the text and looking at the pictures.)
- Staff members are available during staff hours to assist every member with safe machine use, posture, and workout routine questions. (According to the manager, confirmed by two different members.)
- The showers are cleaned by staff after every use during staff hours. (Posted cleaning log outside each shower room.)
- The gym does not blast music from overhead speakers so members can actually hear the music on their devices (headphones are required if a device is used). (Confirmed and appreciated.)
- While being more expensive than Planet Fitness, their fee schedule is still very affordable for me. Their family plan is $62/month after taxes and it allows for up to 2 adults and up to 3 minors on the plan for the same price. Sign up fees vary from $9 to $99 depending on the time of year, specials, and whatever the manager feels like. He is running a $9 special right now that expires on the 5th of May. He promised to give me the same $9 sign up fee if I sign up within the week I come back from vacation as “there is no point in signing up now” when I know I’ll be gone for almost 2 weeks. (I was impressed with how understanding he was about that.)
- They offer a 1-week-free pass to perspective members. I got one, not just for me, but a 2nd one for Mom too. We can use it during staff hours all of next week. (I’m going to make her go at least twice. I’m going to try to go all 5 days to really get a sense of the place.)
- All staff members have some kind of athletic accreditation. I don’t know what all of them mean but the manager is the “health and fitness trainer” for many of the serious athletes at the local high school and has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, they have a part-time certified nutritionist, and the woman that leads the group fitness classes has certificates on the wall saying she is qualified to teach about a dozen different types of group fitness classes (only 3 types are offered right now – yoga, sculpt, and cardio). (I am very interested in the group fitness classes so I hope they work with my schedule.)
- The gym is monitored by 24/7 closed circuit cameras for the safety of members. (Cameras are visible and cover pretty much 100% of the building outside of the showers.)
- New members are welcome so long as they don’t disrupt a long-term member’s routine. If X always uses that treadmill at 5pm on Thursday nights, new member Y might get an earful by X if Y is on that treadmill during X’s routine time. The manager, Z, may or may not side with X simply because X is a long-term member and Y is a new member that needs to “learn the ropes” of the gym. (This was from a review from a disgruntled former member I found online so not necessarily 100% the truth.)
- The group fitness classes are a first-come-first-serve style so if the class is full, you don’t get it. No reservations allowed. (They have a sign stating this.)
- The room for group fitness classes is very small. (Also from the single negative review on line, confirmed with my own eyes.)
- While the gym is accessible 24/7, the staff is only there 5 days a week for a total of 39 staff hours a week. When staff isn’t there, members cannot use the tanning bed (nbd for me, 0 interest in tanning), the showers are not maintained, and everything becomes a la carte in that the members aren’t monitored to make sure they aren’t hogging machines, aren’t using the machines improperly, and that there is no harassment or generally bad behavior. (As told to me by the manager and he added that members are encouraged to let management know about bad behavior during non-staff hours and they will review the security tapes and deal with the offending member should the behavior really be out of line.)
- With no loudspeaker music, it is up to the member to provide their own form of workout music. No televisions in the gym. No books allowed on the machines (okay this isn’t a “con” actually – how do people read on a treadmill/stationary bike and not hurt themselves?). If you forget your headphones, you get to work out to the sounds of the people and machines around you. (Confirmed by me via the “use headphones” sign and the lack of overhead music during my interview.)
- There are no lockers to secure member’s belongings. Instead, there are open cubbies where people can put things like car keys. The manager said they highly suggest that people leave purses/wallets in their locked cars and discourage gym bags due to limited space. (Confirmed and ugh.)
I have quite a few more questions for the manager that I plan to ask next week while I use my free week trial. It is mostly accounting questions about how payments are required (1 year up front or monthly, pay as you go or monthly bank draft, etc.). I have a very good feeling about this place from my short visit. Hopefully any red flags would pop up during my visits.
Do you go to a gym?