Transplant Athlete
Thursday, September 07, 2006
  Choosing The Right Gym

Is harder than it looks. I've been thinking about this for awhile and researching online. Yesterday I went to Washington Sports Club in Sterling to check them out and today it was Gold's Gym in Herndon. They give you a tour and they all look pretty much the same. Cardio equipment, free weights, yoga classes. My wife is concerned with the babysitting, she doesn't want to turn over our child to a pedophile and she wasn't happy when she heard that they don't do FBI background checks on the childcare people. But...both gyms I looked at had large glass windows into the childcare area, so you can see if your child is getting abused.

After the tour, they start throwing numbers at you and I swear, its as confusing as going to buy a new car. They lead off with their standard plans $150 initiation fee and $50/per month is usually the cheapest. But wait...They're having a special right now that drops the plan to...And if you act now, we'll drop $50 off the initiation fee.

Lifetime Fitness - Centreville, VA

My first choice for a gym would be Lifetime Fitness. They have a huge facility, pools, childcare maze, climbing wall, etc., but they are 30 minutes away by car and probably longer on a bike pulling a trailer. Their standard rates are what everyone else has been quoting as standard.

Washington Sports Club (WSC) - Sterling

Just up the road from Q's preschool, they are on the small side, but relatively clean. They don't have a massage therapist available, but I was told I could go to another club. They had several plans available, but the bottom line cheapest plan was a $32 initiation fee, $50 card activation fee, and then $40 per month for a yearly commitment. Childcare was $2 per day per child. I figure that would make my one year investment $754 and the second year would be $610. For those keeping score at home, that's about the same as an entry level hardtail mountain bike.

Ballys - Falls Church

I mention Bally's because their commercials call for $65 down and $20 per month.

Gold's Gym - Herndon/Reston

This is a nicer and larger facility. They have a wellness company co-located within their facility that offers massage, chiropractic, acupuncture...They are about the same distance from my daughter's preschool, but in the opposite direction from WSC. They had a Premium level which gives access to 40 Gold's gyms in the region, a multiclub membership that gives access to the closest 4 or 5 gyms, and then they had the LMT plan which was just access to the Herndon/Reston facility. The bottom line cheapest plan they had was $50 down and $40/per month. Babysitting would cost $25 per month, which I assume would cost me about $10 more per month than WSC. If he could have dropped his price that $10 per month, I would have signed right there.

I left to pick Q up from Preschool. What should be waiting for me in my mailbox, but an advertisement for Gold's Gym. As you can see from the image below, it lists 5 locations on the right hand side including the Herndon/Reston gym I'd like to join. The price is exactly what I was hoping to pay: $0 down and $27.99 per month. The fine print says "Some restrictions apply see club for details" I figured that meant I wouldn't get the 2 free personal trainer sessions or maybe the free fitness tests, or even that some times were off limits. I went back to the Gold's and asked what the restrictions were and I was told to wait a minute and then the membership person sprinted out to the parking lot to catch the manager. There is another line in the fine print that says based on LVA membership. I figured that maybe LVA was a level below LMT. The membership person came back in and told me that they would not be honoring the advertisement. He said that the advertisement only applied to their Leesburg, Virginia facility (apparently LVA is Gold's Gym code for Leesburg) and because they didn't own that facility they couldn't even tell me how to get there.

I feel like I got shafted. I'm considering writing a letter to Gold's corporate and cc'ing the local franchise owner, but I'll follow up with the General Manager first and see if we can resolve this at his level. The advertisement is clearly misleading, I would go so far as to say bait and switch, but you be the judge. Here it is (click to make it larger):


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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