Well, last night I finally broke down and got myself another gym membership. Even with my limited time left in Chicago, I knew pony-ing up the cash was worth it.
My previous gym closed in July, and I was sad to see Crunch at Marina City close its doors. The gym really fit my needs, and — no matter how silly it seems — it also fit my personality.
Hip-hop was usually playing. The colors were fun. The people were young and generally hop. The trainers weren’t meat heads. The shampoo dispenser in the shower had a “Shampoo your doo” label.
But when they closed their convenient almost-Loop doors and said I could start working out an extra half-mile walk away, I cancelled my membership and vowed to start lifting in my condo’s gym. With a full set of dumbbells and an elliptical machine, I could amend my routine to something workable.
Lo and behold, when you remove the things you like about something that’s generally seen as tiresome, it’s a lot harder to get there. My friend says that a gym’s location is key, but I’ll tell you flat-out that the gym a whopping five floors down isn’t getting used if I don’t have a barbell bench press, a squat rack, a proper leg press machine, and an assisted chin-up bar.
I’m not quite a fitness snob, but these are my essentials. Maybe you want a pool or a sauna or yoga classes. I don’t. I want my four things.
When I signed up with Crunch, I actually did a good amount of research on gyms in Chicago’s Loop. Heck, I’ve been a member of three of the area’s gyms, each fulfilling my desired requirements at the time. I know who offers what, about how much they’re going to want me to shell out, and the actuality that I’ll show up based on location and how I feel in there.
There was only one other gym that wowed me two Novembers ago. The location could only be beaten by the inadequate gym in my condo building. The cleanliness rivaled that of any OCD germ freak’s house. The facilities were superb with classes galore, free weights of all types, and tons of cardio machines. And the free towels — oh the fluffy towels!
However, the price tag being double, I was sufficiently swayed to hike nearly half a mile to Crunch.
With Crunch gone and my at-home gym collecting dust, I evaluated my options. A walk in the opposite direction. The all-women’s gym with a bunch of crappy machines. The gym with a Smith machine but no other barbells. Bally’s.
No, no, no, and oh hell no.
Yesterday I got an email saying the initiation fee for the fancy-pants gym was temporarily about the price of two burritos. That was enough for me to go in to see what they could do for me.
The shiny sales guy was about to start his spiel on how some magazine named them the greatest gym in the universe, how they require a gazillion hours of training from their trainers, and whatever else it is that people want to hear. I stopped him and explained that my upcoming jaunt back to Tejas required that I have a way to get out of my contract by a certain go-home date. Once that was established, I pointed upstairs and asked that he show me the four things on my list.
Barbell bench press — check!
A squat rack — check!
A leg press machine — check!
An assisted chin-up bar — check!
Done and done. I gave the man some burrito money, signed up through work’s payroll deduction for six — count ‘em — SIX free training sessions, listed a chorus friend as the referrer so he can get his free thank-you back rub, and left with a free t-shirt and a bottle of that fancy Figi water.
Post-work I hit the gym today, and I am so glad at my decision to spend all that coin on a gym membership. Being a whole lot fancier than my tastes, this place is going to take some getting used to. But I feel so much more normal after pounding out 6247 pounds of weight.
That, and they have fluffy towels.