I’ve joined four gyms in the past seven years.
While I’ve talked about the benefits of a gym before, I’ll sum it up by saying I love the camaraderie. That might sound odd considering I don’t talk to anybody at the gym (music is much too loud for that), but I still love being around folks who are in the same mindset as I am. And while it does take 5-10 minutes to drive to my gym (Hampton Hill Athletic Club), it’s still convenient to have every machine and weight I could ever want or need in one place.
I don’t have room for a home gym, but even if I did I wouldn’t stop going. The gym is my battleground; it’s where I changed and saved my life.
The first gym I ever joined was Pivotal Fitness. It’s a regional gym located in South Carolina. I was 18-years old and trying my hardest to look my best for the girls when I joined, hoping to get that reclusive 6-pack of abs.
Pivotal Gym a massive gym with hundreds machines. While a relatively small chain, it still had a very corporate feel to it. I believe I paid around $39 a month, under a 2-year contract, which I used for about two weeks. The gym membership went unused for several months until I was able to break my contract without penalty because I moved to Columbia and was able to use the “cancel if moved 60-miles or further away from the gym” clause.
It was and is a great clause for quitters like me.
I remember I stopped going to Pivotal after a couple of weeks because I got tired of my diet at the time which consisted exclusively of salads. I hated salads, but that’s all I thought I could eat. Looking back, the ignorance and lack of knowledge I had about losing weight was shockingly horrible.
No wonder losing weight is such a battle for millions.
After Pivotal, I went without a gym for years until I started my weight loss journey in January of 2009. While I attempted many diets between the ages of 19 and 23 while living in Columbia, I never lasted long enough to go and get a gym membership. Once I got one, though, it was at Better Body Fitness in Elgin for $30 a month and no contract. Elgin is where I lived between 2007 and 2009 and if not for the move to downtown Columbia 30-minutes away, I’d still be working out there every night.
Better Body Fitness is a small gym, owned by a nice woman who I could call or e-mail at anytime. It only has about 20 machines or so, a few treadmills, two ellipticals, and a couple of bikes. The rest of the machines are for weight lifting — all quality machines and well kept, though. While the gym might be small and limited, one could still complete an entire weight lifting and cardio workout at Better Body Fitness without a problem.
It obviously became crowded fairly quickly, though.
Still, it was a great gym, and I teared up the last time I did the elliptical (same one I used every night) right before we moved. I started an incredible journey in that gym that eventually reached all of you wonderful people. That small gym, that elliptical, will have a special place in my heart.
It should be a landmark.
From one extreme to another, we moved from the country in Elgin to downtown Columbia. I went from Better Body Fitness, a small, locally owned gym, to Gold’s, the largest gym chain in the world.
I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
My experience with Gold’s Gym lasted for a few months. I signed up with them when I moved to Columbia in September of 2009 and stopped going around December of 2009. While I still pay for a membership with them (2-year contract), I haven’t been in several months.
I don’t want to bash Gold’s Gym too much. It has new, shiny machines. It’s clean and the staff is friendly enough. In my opinion though, Gold’s Gym is a lot like a used car dealership. The local Gold’s that I have a membership to is structured just like a dealership; it has a sales floor inside the lobby with a couple of offices for the sales managers, which overlook several tables and chairs where the sales reps and customers negotiate to find the “right” price.
I remember the couple of times I had to call Gold’s for some simple questions after I first signed up — the first thing I was prompted with when I called was “Are you currently a member with us?” As soon as I replied yes, the tone switched from cheery and helpful to, “What exactly are you doing calling here?” And, I won’t forget that the sales manager tried to get me to pay several hundred dollars just as a “sign up fee.” Just cause, you know?
There’s capitalism and then there’s outright robbery. Moving along.
Around the turn of the decade I find Hampton Hill. I have never been part of a fancy schmancy athletic club, but I love it and I’ll never leave unless I’m forced to move. It’s never too crowded, the machines are all state of the art and maintained, it’s clean, has tons of cardio classes, and finally, probably less importantly, I’m greeted by friendly southern belles at the front desk.
It feels like I’m going to a polo match every time I visit Hampton Hill.
Here’s what I see every night:
Do you go to a gym? If so, which? What does your gym look like? Post some pictures of your gym on the forum or your blog if you have one.