Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Mighty Gym Search

It's winter in DC and just after New Year's. What else is there to do but to join a gym?

My workout buddy and I were determined to find a decent yet affordable place where we could get buff and toned. The mighty gym search began.

First Stop: Washington Sports Club. Naturally.

A huge burly black man in a suit greets us at the door. He shows us treadmills with plasma TVs! Workout rooms with flashing lights! Exercises spaces full of intimidating machines! (Presumably for getting intimidating muscles.) Then he shows us the price. $70 a month plus some $80 "initiation" fee - which is, by the way, the "new year's special"? Yikes. Our response: "We're just looking."

Next Stop: Results. What kind of results? We were there to find out.

Scary results. Crazy results. But scary, like one energy drink too many kind of scary. I'm standing at the front desk, noticing a sign that says "Dues are going up to $87/month!" when a man sneaks up behind me and introduces himself. His introduction: "Don't worry, I don't bite!" (I wasn't so sure.) Inside, I'm pretty sure they were going for "you're trapped inside a cave and have to run your way out" kind of decor. With black leather couches. Why would I need this in a gym? I wouldn't. We say no thanks.

Next up: Gold's Gym in Silver Spring. Gold, silver, I'm jewelry shopping.

It's like going into a bar, except without the funny boozy moments. We get ID'ed at the door. Then it turns into a job interview. A young man sits us down (on the couches which are next to the treadmills - I'm sensing a trend). He looks us straight in the eye. This is very important if you interview people to join your gym. He asks us - and this is crucial to know - "When were you in the best shape of your life?" I should have brought my workout resume. The facility was nice, and the prices were a good $40 a month at the student rate. I had to say no, though, because it was a little far out of the city for me. No sense in traveling more than 15 minutes to get to the gym.

A few days later: We go to the YMCA in DC. I've been here before, and I've heard there's a student discount. Naturally, beforehand, I don't think to question how the Y defines "student." Apparently, you can only be a student if you go to, like, one of 6 colleges out of all the colleges in the country. For us mere mortals, it's $73 per month. There's a pool here, but I don't really consider flailing about in the water and gasping for air a fun workout. I leave the Y and its high fee behind (no flailing involved).

Later that evening: I did not know that I would be proposed to in my gym search. This life-altering event happened when we perused the DC Gold's Gym. A trainer got down on one knee...and said to me....."Are you two engaged?" It was beautiful. However, I wasn't quite ready to take my relationship with Gold's to that level, so we declined their $50/month student rate.

I was, however, ready to get sweaty with someone cheap and easy.

And there it was: Fitness First. No frills! Tropical decor in the cycle room! Free personal training! $30 per month for students! Sign me up baby.


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