Friday, March 14, 2008

Pumping Iron

The New York Times has a post up about how local, independent gyms are successfully competing with national chains:

Notably, national health club chains fared the poorest in the survey. The magazine found that private studios for yoga, dance or Pilates and gyms at local community centers, schools, work and nonprofit Jewish Community Centers and Y.M.C.A.’s received the best marks. National chains were often criticized for long wait times for machines, problems with contracts or fees, poorer cleanliness and less adequate locker rooms than other gyms.

Most of the time when I've tried to cancel a contract, the financial office responsible won't return my calls, so I'm quite familiar with that problem. I now operate under the assumption that a gym won't honor its cancellation policy.

We all have different needs from a gym, and I have none at all for aerobics classes, full-service shake bars, or in-house spas. Although I imagine that it could be helpful to get a workout and a bikini waxing in the same place, I don't need or want to pay extra for such amenities. Others, however, may have such a need.

Right now, I go to a small town YMCA. Including the aerobics room, it's say that it's about 2,500 square feet in floor space. I have to drive 20-25 minutes to get there, but it's the closest gym. This is what I do:

Dumbbell bench press (3 sets)
Dumbbell shoulder press (3 sets)
30 minutes stair climber

Chin-ups (3 sets)
Preacher curl (3 sets)
30 minutes stair climber

Dumbbell shoulder shrug (3 sets)
Dumbbell lateral raise (3 sets)
30 minutes stair climber

Sit ups (3 sets)
Back extensions (3 sets)
30 minutes stair climber

Dumbbell lunges (3 sets)
Leg curl (3 sets)
Calf extensions (3 sets)
Run 2.5 miles


jimmorrow said...

Where do you find the time, stud?

DannyG said...

I had the same problems with health clubs. Another issue is that they tend to go out of business or merge fairly frequently, often voiding current contracts. At present I walk on my own, either on the Greenbelt or on my own treadmill most days, and I have a small weight machine in the basement I use 3 times weekly. I'm in the process of getting a recumbant exercise bike, which (J)'s ortho. doc has approved for her to use. Once that is up and running I hope to get my regular bike re-conditioned and start riding again (In my wayward youth I used to be a pretty serious road racer, and 15 yrs ago I regularly bicycle commuted to work, with the price of gas that may be an option again this summer!)

John said...

I make it a priority. It's the first thing that I do every day. Also, I don't have children, yet. That probably helps a lot.

Sounds like a good plan, DannyG. Sometimes the wife and I go out walking through the 'burbs.

At youth group about a year ago, I rode a bike for the first time in about 20 years. I learned something: it is indeed possible to forget how to ride a bike.

Mark Winter said...

Keep up the workouts and maybe we will need to call you John the Mega-Methodist

Stresspenguin said...

I've been an avid lifter for the last 15 years or so. I'm curious as to how many reps your doing in each set; three movements doesn't seem to be a lot of work to justify the cost of a gym membership and a 40-50 minute round trip drive.

I take full advantage of the gym at SMU, but when I'm home, I do mainly improvised stuff that is as challenging, if not more so, than the things I do at a conventional gym.

At home, I use a 20 lb weight vest, two 30 lb dumbbells, a picnic table, the monkey bars at the church playground, an old tractor tire, the ball field across the street, and a 100 lb anvil.

John said...

I usually do 12 reps per set, but it varies. I'll do at least 20 per set on the back extensions, and then very little weight (no more than 150 lbs) so that I don't hurt myself. I generally train to failure, and my last set on the bench press is usually 6 reps.

Stresspenguin said...

Don't feel like I'm grillin' ya; I'm honestly fascinated by working out. It's my only real hobby right now.

Why do you work out? I've had different reasons through the years. I started in high school because I was tired of being picked on as the fat nerdy kid. I lifted in the Army because being really strong was really useful. I lift and run now so I can enjoy future kids and grandkids in the future.

On a different note, I too have forgotten how to ride a bike, but no one ever believes me when I say it. I'm glad there's at least one other person who knows the truth about that myth.

John said...

Don't worry, Kurt, I don't feel grilled at all.

I never played a sport during high school or college. I started working out intermittently from the ages of 20-27, and then a few days a week every week from the age of 27 on.

I feel better about myself as a person when I can feel my own strength.

The Thief said...

We had a California Fitness gym membership B.K. (before kids) and went regularly. But A.K. it was completely inconvenient to go (the one near us didn't have childcare facilities). Then we moved...

We now belong to the YMCA, and we go 3-4 times per week. It's a 15-20 minute drive for us, but it's worth it. My wife and I go together; they have a large, well-stocked childcare room that usually has 3-4 kids in it, and our kids like playing there.

We use the racquetball courts, the running track, the basketball courts, the physical training room, and the pool each every week. We also use the weights intermittently...

Jeff the Baptist said...

I have forgotten how to ride a bike once already in my life. I could probably pick it up pretty quickly, but I'm not positive about it.

My workout schedule is mostly stuff I can do around the house. Situps, pushups, and time on our treadmill. With my knees, there is no way I could do as much stairstepper as you. I really wish I could get an elliptical at home, but it's not in the budget yet.

The wife and I are thinking about getting a local Y membership because one is 5-10 minutes from home. Unfortunately, like my quiet times, working out isn't as regular as it should be.

John said...

I would prefer an elliptical trainer instead of the stairclimber in order to preserve my knees. Preventative joint care is why I only run once a week. Alas, the elliptical trainers at the gym range from bad to non-functional.