Monday, April 27, 2009

Join the Gym Crowd

While it might seem a little late in the year to be joining a gym and cashing in on those New Year's resolutions, now is as good a time as any to be taking the plunge for a gym membership. Remember those deals you glanced at in January but set on the back burner? Think again about those deals typically luring "I'm-going-to-get-fit-this-year" wannabes through the first of the year--they're still available, in some cases even a little better than before. Or at least, that's what got my parents to finally join the fitness train. Well, that and the close-to-home factor.

My mission in visiting my parents this week was two-fold: to see my sister visiting from California and select a gym for my parents to join. They were interested--my dad finally convinced my mom--but couldn't decide between two facilities in the area. They had checked out local one-location-only clubs years ago and weren't impressed, didn't want to be part of the Bally's crowd, didn't join the YMCA when my sister and I were swimming. But now they had narrowed it down to Life Time Fitness and L.A. Fitness--two clubs relatively close to home. So I'm supposed to check out the facilities, make my judgments, find the pluses and minuses, and report back.

Secretly I hoped to only visit one club and deem that one appropriate for my parents, and I lucked out when my wish came true. My mom was sold at the L.A. Fitness membership desk with a deal even I'd be hard-pressed to pass up. And if I lived anywhere near a location (without having to drive), I'd consider signing on the dotted line. For suburban living, it's five minutes from the house, you can park so close you can leave your coat in the car, it has an indoor 25-meter pool (the pool is always a selling point for me), it has plenty of classes and more machines than my own gym in the city, and provided you plan to join for more than a year the price can't be beat. The only downfalls were bringing your own towel (I'd forget at least the first few times since I'm used to grabbing one at my gym) and using a radio tuner to watch one of the big-screen TVs--but no complaints because that would encourage me to catch up on my reading. In the end, these were the selling factors:
  • So close to home there's almost no excuse not to work out
  • Convenient to other stores--making a Costco or Target run afterward or having the car serviced
  • Crowds are minimal--even at the prime time of 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. you could easily stake out a treadmill, bike or elliptical
  • Variety of classes--for being so against joining at first, my mom was perusing the class schedule saying she might try Aqua-Fit or Boot Camp
  • Good hours--open 5 a.m. to midnight during the week and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends
  • The price was more than right
  • Not only can you visit that particular location but you have access to 300 other clubs across the country with even more on the way
Location truly trumped all of the benefits, saying she'd more likely pass up a workout if she had to drive more than five minutes on a bad weather day. What's your make or break for joining a gym?

Update: My parents are card-holding members at L.A. Fitness putting their memberships to good use within the first week. Now if only they can score me some guest passes for the next time I come to visit so I'm not Nordic-Tracking in the basement. Photo grabbed from lilymommy2000 at flickr. Posted by Kate

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