With its ocean of machines that scream false promises of cover-model bodies while banking on the fact that over half of its members will not use the place and neglect to cancel their recurring billing. I’ve often slammed the corporate gym with creative prose, while taking great pride in my windowless facility’s cinder block walls and concrete floors that was once described by a local newspaper reporter as looking like a hidden CIA interrogation room.
But like so many small business pipe dreams, my gym workouts are gone. And so are the 14-hour work-days I spent trying to keep the doors open. With too much free time on my hands I needed a reason to get out of the house – so I signed on the recurring billing dotted line for a corporate gym membership. And the truth is, I’m enjoying my new escape haven.
Sure, it’s not without its flaws. But overall, I’m finding the good outweighs the bad – and the ugly.
The Corporate Gym…
Barbells: I’m happy to say I have returned to squatting and deadlifting. Yes, I have a pretty sweet equipment set up at home but I do not have barbells and plates. The corporate gym I train at has plenty of barbells, four power racks, and all of the plates I could ever desire in my wildest heavy squat dreams.
Swimming Pool: I am a terrible swimmer. I’m not going to drown in the pool or anything, but I usually have to rest after just one 25 meter lap. I figure my poor technique means I’m expending lots of energy and making for a good workout. 🙂 Technique be damned, I’m enjoying my time in the pool and the challenges that come with developing a new skill.
iPod: I always train alone. And when my gym was open, I mean ALONE – usually no one else was even in the building. But even at the huge corporate gym with lots of people milling around, I’m having no problem enjoying some alone time. I’m wearing an iPod. The cute girl I’d normally be tempted to strike up a conversation with is wearing an iPod. Damn near everyone is wearing an iPod. Modern technology may be ruining communication between people, but I appreciate the iPod-assisted “silence” while I’m training.
24 Hour Access: If I’m having a sleepless night, I like having a place to go that gives me a healthy option instead of watching some crappy movie or eating some junk food out of boredom. Sure I could just do some push-ups in my living room or read a book. But leaving the house, having a light workout, and then returning home seems to set me up better for sleep.
The Locker Room: I’m more than pleased with the cleanliness of the locker room where I train – that’s not the problem. What I’m not pleased with are the yelling matches over where Lebron James will end up and the guy who has to spread his entire wardrobe across the bench. A little common courtesy goes a long way when you have to share space with people you don’t know. Unfortunately, some people lack common courtesy.
No Circuit Training: I’m a fan of setting up circuits of multiple exercises for metabolic conditioning. But stringing together a workout of box jumps, power cleans, pull ups, and push presses will not only be a potential safety hazard in the sea of people aimlessly wandering from machine to machine, it will also make you look like an equipment hog. I keep my training at the corporate gym focused on strength and muscle building, and save my heart cranking circuit work for my back yard sessions.
Curls In The Rack: I know it’s cliche, but I’ve seen it more than once already – guys doing barbell curls in the power rack. That being said, because squats and standing presses aren’t exactly the most popular exercises at this gym, one of the four power racks is always available. It’s that availability that is keeping the rack-curls in “the bad” and not in “the ugly”.
Personal Trainers: Even with my iPod blasting and my training face on, I can’t avoid seeing the personal trainer taking what is obviously a weight loss client through a set of lateral raises. I grit my teeth, avert my gaze, and move to another part of the gym. But I know several times each week I will see such transgressions and it is an exercise of restraint to keep my mouth shut.
No Training Journals: I’ve been training at this gym for three weeks now. I am the ONLY person I’ve seen writing down what they are doing in their training sessions. Don’t get me wrong, someone who has been training for years and is in maintenance mode can get away with this. But people who are on a serious fat loss or learning how to build muscle, especially those who are relatively new to training, are on a path to no-results if they aren’t tracking their training.
Texting: It’s just a pet peeve of mine and I suppose I should get over it… but why the hell can’t you leave your cell phone in your locker while you’re training? Oh, you’re a heart surgeon on call that day – my mistake and my apologies. Oh, you’re an average guy trying to set up a hot date for later that night – put the phone away, make her wait 30 minutes, get some damned focus, and maybe you can put some more weight on that bench press you naturally gravitate towards.
To my surprise, I am enjoying my time in the behemoth corporate gym. Sure, there are some things that I don’t like – but few things are perfect.
What is your experience in the big corporate facilities? Do you enjoy training there? Or are the “bad” and the “ugly” not worth the hassle. Let me know in the comments below.