Now I have to figure out locker room etiquette...
Didn't really think I was the type of person to pay to exercise, but you know what? Having a machine that forces you to run at a consistent pace is pretty great, and being in a room full of other sweaty people trying to improve their bodies is a good motivator. And I think I'm going to like the consistent climate within a gym.
After spending a few weeks researching my options and trying out a couple of places, I picked the least expensive gym, Chuze Fitness, for a few reasons.
It's near my home and on my way to and from work. I stop in after work about every other day, and when I want to go on the weekends it's a 5 minute drive from my place or a short trip down the freeway from my boyfriends'. A pretty convenient location and I'm more than happy to make the drive and save $20 a month over every other gym around.
It's enormous. You can see the TVs from the freeway. There are 4 rows of various equipment evenly spaced and in front of the various channels so you can watch the show you choose while working out on the machine you choose. There's a whole dedicated weight area and a class space, and so far I haven't had a problem finding a free locker to use.
It's new. And clean. The cleanliness was a big issue for me and my moderate germophobia. There are signs everywhere reminding people to wipe down equipment after sweating all over it, there are paper towels and sanitizing spray conveniently located everywhere and nothing has felt wet or sticky yet. The walls still look freshly painted, the bathroom is clean, and staff members are constantly walking around with hand vacuums.
It has variety. There are treadmills, two different kinds of elliptical machines, and stationary bikes and all of the machines have a little thing where you can plug in your headphones to listen to whatever show is on that lets you change channels (there are 10 and the variety is pretty solid. I watched Chicken Run last Saturday.). The weight machines seem to cover every muscle and are designed in a way that women can use them without feeling like we're exposing ourselves. All the weight machines face one direction so you're just staring at people's backs. I've found a machine to train every muscle I want, plus there are enough free weights for the standard stuff.
It has free classes. All classes are included in the membership, which is just $10 a month. I took one and it kicked my butt, but in a way that made me feel stronger. It was good to have a leader yelling at me/the class to not stop; I don't do that to myself. There's also a variety of classes to suit a range of fitness styles at different times so you should be able to go to any class you want at least once a week. Plus, signing up for a membership gives you a 30 minute session with a trainer where you can ask questions about fitness and nutrition and focus them towards a specific goal.
It has a no grunting policy. Seriously. I had to sign saying I would not grunt. The point (I had to ask) is that grunting is intimidating and Chuze wants to be unintimidating, so if you're working out so hard you're grunting you should step it down a notch or take it to a gym that's better suited for that. Plus, people who are body building and serious weight lifters are probably not going to be at this gym because it's designed for the average person, and it goes to great lengths to make the average person feel comfortable. The other gym I tested out did not make me feel this way, and I did feel rather awkward and even weak compared to the other members. And Chuze has a much higher percentage of female members than the other gym I tried, which is more important than I realized. So there's none of this.
It does, however, also have the former-neighbor-turned-one-night-stand as a member, which I discovered, but that's much better than the person I might run into at the gym near my house.
Since my time for a half marathon has only gotten worse, I'm hoping the gym membership will get my butt back into gear and in May I'll beat my best time. But after this race is over I think I'm going to keep the membership so I don't have an excuse to not run when it gets hot over the summer and can get back the tone I used to have in my arms. For $10 a month there's really no reason not to.