Thursday, June 7, 2012

Goodbye Bally

I’ve been health club shopping lately. The local health club landscape has seen significant alteration over the last few months. Planet Fitness has moved into the former Barnes & Noble space at Richmond Town Square. 24 Hour Fitness is on Mayfield Road near Lander. Last week, I tried Urban Active at Legacy Village. A vast array of equipment, all well-maintained; cardio movie theater; scrupulously clean locker room, pool, sauna & steam. But something about that place rubbed me the wrong way, beyond the price – there was a testosterone fused meat-headedness about the place that I found very off putting. The staff reeked of attitude and cheap cologne, and much of the clientele was there more to be seen than to workout.

This points to the question of whether I need a membership beyond what I already have at Progressive’s Fitness Center. As it is, I’m already at the location four days a week (I work from home one day per week), and it’s just a short drive on the weekends. True, there is neither a swimming facility, hot tub, nor track – but I don’t often swim and if I want to walk there are lovely outdoor paths. Truthfully, the only reason I worked out elsewhere was to psychologically separate myself from work concerns.

I recently ended a years’ long association with Bally Total Fitness. The nearest location, at Severance Town Center, had been closed for a week before I even knew of it. There was a time when BTF was virtually the only game in town besides the “Y”, and the most challenging thing about going there was finding a time to beat the crowds. But BTF has been going downhill for at least a decade. The company filed for bankruptcy reorganization at least twice during past decade. The Severance BTF, despite being the newest locally, was in especially sorry shape. Equipment was often in need of repair, weights were not properly racked or missing, and the place was often dirty. Don't get me started on the locker room - rusted lockers with the bottoms falling out, stopped up sinks, puddles in the lavatories, filthy showers, and detritus on the floors. Unacceptable by any first world standards. Add to this the fact that the Severance location didn't have a running track or swimming pool (just a little whirlpool that was often closed). The weekend staff was usually late to open the club and invariably surly. The nearest locations are in Beachwood, Willoughby, and Maple Heights (the latter two have many of the same problems as Severance), thus it was a no brainer for me to cancel my membership.

So for now, I go to work in order to work – or to workout.

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