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Thinking about joining a gym, thoughts?

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Thinking about joining a gym, thoughts?

Old 06-28-13, 10:57 AM
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MikeRides
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Thinking about joining a gym, thoughts?

Anyone a member of a gym/fitness center?
I decided to be a guest of a local "fitness center" that a friend is a member of, to get an idea of whether I wanted to join. As I'm walking around, I see people spinning on stationary bikes and walking around a indoor track or running on a treadmill and I'm trying to figure out why these people PAY close to $150 a year to do this. For the winter months, I kind of understand the purpose of them but in the spring/summer/fall I would think it would be cheaper in the long run and more fun to buy a bicycle and ride on a bike path. Or hitting up the high school's track(which is available for community use 3 days/week) to walk/run while being away from traffic.

Maybe its the adventurous side of me that refuses to spin in one place, I could never get used to stationary bikes. When I pedal I like to know I'm actually going some where, to enjoy the scenery (buildings/traffic/nature around me). As for walking, I despise walking in "laps" but really enjoy hitting up hiking trails.

This particular gym has very little in the sense of weight lifting equipment which would be the most beneficial for me as I try replacing my body fat with muscle. I think I'll keep looking for a better alternative.

So, returning to the question addressed: Are you a member of a gym? What are your thoughts on them?
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Old 06-28-13, 11:07 AM
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Yes, I mostly use the pool and spa at my gym. There are very few people in this gym that are “athletes.” (Its an LA Fitness) Though the gym I am at now for the summer in Boulder has a lot of athletes, it is much more pricey at almost $100 a month. I couldn’t afford that in the long term.

I like the motivation factor of other people, I like to lift weights once in a while (definitely hit legs on the off season), I even like the recumbent stationary bikes for days after huge rides when I have saddle sore/sore shoulders as the recumbents allow me to spin and heal those secondary issues.

I’d recommend a membership but go to a gym that has enough weight lifting equipment and if you can find one, a gym that has a lot of very fit people/athletes to help motivate you. But first figure out your goals.
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Old 06-28-13, 11:19 AM
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$150 a year sounds pretty cheap to me. Lots of reasons to work out at a gym. Some people are on a tight schedule and need to get a quick workout in over lunch, or before work, or after work. Some people like the motivation of group exercise classes, or working with a personal trainer. During winter months it is easier to work out indoors as opposed to running or cycling in the cold, or dark. Also, working out on a spinning bike has some cycling specific benefits. You can practice cadence, intervals, sprints, or hills without worrying about other bikers, dog walkers, or cars. And you can do it while blasting high energy music that would be a pretty risky thing to do out on the road. And, it will keep you in biking shape through the cold winter months if you live in the Northeast or Midwest and don't have the time or inclination to train outdoors.

Finally, a gym offers a variety of options, from weights, Yoga, kickboxing, to stationary bikes, to elliptical trainers, so you get the opportunity to cross train, all in one convenient place, where you don't have to worry about the weather, that is open 18 to 24 hours a day, every day.
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Old 06-28-13, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeRides View Post
as I try replacing my body fat with muscle. I think I'll keep looking for a better alternative.

So, returning to the question addressed: Are you a member of a gym? What are your thoughts on them?

First of all ... it is impossible to 'replace' fat with muscle.


Secondly ... I like gyms and have had memberships with gyms on-and-off for 20-ish years.


When I lived in Canada, I would often get a 6-month gym membership (October - March), and I'd be in there lifting weights several days each week, riding the stationary or spin bikes, running/walking on the treadmill or indoor track. If the place had spinning classes, I'd take 10 or 12 weeks of those, once or twice a week, starting in January.

I also had my own trainer at home to ride on the days I didn't go to the gym, and a small set of gym equipment so I could do light weights etc.

And I tried to be active outside as much as possible as well ... snowbiking or doing long rides on weekends, commuting to and from work by bicycle, skiing, snowshoeing, etc.

It was a great way to keep in shape over the winter months, and going to the gym got me out of the house on those cold, dark winter days. Some of the gyms I went to didn't have a particularly inspiring environment, but my favourite had a gym area that overlooked the pool, and they'd done the pool area up with tropical plants etc. ... I'd go there on a cold winter evening, and it would be all bright and tropical. For a couple hours I could workout and imagine it wasn't -32C outside with howling wind and snow.


Rowan and I visited Canada for a month recently, over Christmas, and on our second day in Canada, we headed down to one of the community centres, and got a 1-month membership. We were in the gym (mainly spin bikes, rowing machine, treadmill, and swimming) for 1-2 hours just about every afternoon. A few days were nice enough so that we could cycle outside, so we took little breaks from the gym on those days. I lost quite a bit of weight during that month ... even over Christmas!


We live in Australia, and the winters here are pretty much snow-free, so I figured I'd cycle year round. No need for a gym membership in winter. But after my first winter here when I discovered how dark, and damp, and rainy and foggy it is, I inquired about a gym membership at the small gym in our town. Unfortunately a 6-month membership was something like $600!!! And it doesn't have all that much in the way of equipment.

We're moving soon, to a more populated area, and one of the things I'm looking forward to is the possibility that there might be some decent gyms or community centres where we can get gym memberships in places with some decent equipment for a decent price. I'm looking forward to spinning classes, and Rowan would like a decent pool.


I wouldn't want to go to a gym in the summer unless the summer was particularly cool and rainy, but it's great for late autumn, winter, and early spring.

Last edited by Machka; 06-28-13 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 06-28-13, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeRides View Post
So, returning to the question addressed: Are you a member of a gym? What are your thoughts on them?
I guess that it really comes down to a question of whether you can find something there that you enjoy enough to go in multiple times per week, and it also depends on what your local bike trails are like and what the local climate is like.

I started going this past winter, and I have to admit that there are some things there that I have kind of gotten into - enough that I go in 3 times a week at about 5:30AM. But my experience was that if I weren't doing this, I would only do occasional rides on a trail somewhere, and that just wasn't enough. I guess the other part of it is that at the gym I don't need to worry about weather, bonking, traffic, being under/over dressed, flat tires or much of anything else.

Lately the thing that I have kind of gotten into is a machine that is sort of like a video game where you are racing on a mountain bike. You have a video screen with a course, and you have to beat 5 other virtual riders around the course. There are multiple courses to ride in different virtual climates - some have climbing, some are straight, some have lots of twists and turns. If I were out on my own, I would just be taking my time - the element of competition (as artificial as it is) gets my competitive juices flowing and I ride harder than I would otherwise. And after I get done with this thing, I get in the pool to swim laps (and cool off from the ride at the same time). And after that, 10 minutes in the hot tub .
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Old 06-28-13, 11:13 PM
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My wife and I have been members of various gyms for 45 years. We like gyms with substantial free weight equipment and some weight machines, spin bikes, ellipticals, and stair climbers. We don't care about tracks, pools, spas, saunas, and that sort of thing. We go there to work out and then shower at home. We also have trainers and rollers at home for non-group bike workouts. We go to the gym even in summer for strength maintenance and spin class when it's raining.
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Old 06-29-13, 05:28 AM
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I spent $150 on a 150-lb home gym a couple of years ago; the exercises I go through with it, along with simple callisthenic and traditional core strength exercises such as sit-ups and push-ups have been sufficient to supplement my cycling to keep me as fit as I require.

On the other hand, I could easily see how having the wider variety of options in a controlled environment would be helpful, especially if there is a pool and running track available.

A personal trainer would be nice to have, to help target various problem areas, but I'm pretty sure that costs extra, at least around here.

I also hate and dread spinning in one place, and only used my own indoor bike trainer twice last winter; otherwise, I would rather ride around in the cold for 20 minutes than sit and spin for an hour...
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Old 06-29-13, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by travelerman View Post
I also hate and dread spinning in one place, and only used my own indoor bike trainer twice last winter; otherwise, I would rather ride around in the cold for 20 minutes than sit and spin for an hour...
1. Have you taken a good spinning class?

2. When you used your trainer, what did you do? Did you play music, watch TV, do intervals?
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Old 06-29-13, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
1. Have you taken a good spinning class?

2. When you used your trainer, what did you do? Did you play music, watch TV, do intervals?
Spinning class was a revelation for me when I started up a few years ago. Made me a much better cyclist. Learned to use clipless pedals, learned cadence, and got much better at climbing out of the saddle from doing it in spinning.
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Old 06-29-13, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Spinning class was a revelation for me when I started up a few years ago. Made me a much better cyclist. Learned to use clipless pedals, learned cadence, and got much better at climbing out of the saddle from doing it in spinning.
Yes, my first spinning class was a revelation for me too.

I had a long distance event in early April that year, and living in Alberta, Canada didn't provide me ideal conditions to prepare for that event outside. For one thing, they don't plough the roads very well there and cycling on a 6" layer of bumpy ice isn't exactly conducive for good training.

So my options were to just ride my trainer ... or ride my trainer some days and join a spinning class 2 nights a week for 10 weeks, starting about mid-January.

The instructor was a triathlete, so he had some idea about cycling long distances outside, and he put us through our paces. It was a really good and tough class ... and it was interesting. The class was a full 60 minutes, with about an extra approx. 15 minutes for warm up and cool down etc., but I don't recall ever being bored. We certainly weren't just sitting there mindlessly turning pedals!! Lots of variety!

I also spent about an hour after the class doing weights, and using either the track or treadmill.



And then, in early April I was able to ride a hilly 200K randonnee quite comfortably (despite crashing badly at the 100 km point), and I started a 400K randonnee and made it to about 250 km before my crash injuries brought it all to a halt. But nevertheless ... I don't think I would have been in shape to do that much without that spinning class.


I would love to find a well-equipped gym with good spinning classes again.

Last edited by Machka; 06-29-13 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 06-29-13, 09:51 AM
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IMO if you're bored when spinning on rollers or a trainer, you aren't paying attention. Live in the moment. I was on my rollers for three hours this week, nice sunny days, but I needed the rollers more than I needed outdoor miles. I listen to music, but don't like distractions when riding indoors. Except for spin class, which is a social interaction and thus fun that way, too.

OTOH, maybe if I rode centuries on the rollers I'd like to watch TV just fine. As it is, my legs usually start to hurt pretty good after an hour and a half and that keeps my mind occupied.

That said, I never could like "stationary bikes," either, in the sense of those contraptions one usually finds in a gym. But your real road bike on rollers is a whole 'nother animal. I usually hit my rollers and then either ride or drive to the gym for a weight workout, or else hit the weights after a spin class.
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Old 06-29-13, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
1. Have you taken a good spinning class?



2. When you used your trainer, what did you do? Did you play music, watch TV, do intervals?.
1. Have you taken a good spinning class?
No, I was just referring to riding my indoor Mag Trainer; but I have often wanted to go right from the riding season into a spin class, act as though it was all new to me, then sit and spin at 100 RPM for over an hour with relative ease...


2. When you used your trainer, what did you do? Did you play music, watch TV, do intervals?
Yes, all three; music, music videos, tv shows, with intervals. It is still - compared to getting outside - tedious to me

Last edited by travelerman; 06-29-13 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 06-29-13, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by travelerman View Post
1. Have you taken a good spinning class?
No, I was just referring to riding my indoor Mag Trainer; but I have often wanted to go right from the riding season into a spin class, act as though it was all new to me, then sit and spin at 100 RPM for over an hour with relative ease...
Well ... that's not what people in spinning classes do. Despite the name, spinning classes are not about sitting there and spinning at 100 rpm for over an hour.

A good spinning class incorporates a whole lot more than that.
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Old 06-29-13, 08:15 PM
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Lifting will do more for your riding than riding will.
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Old 06-29-13, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Well ... that's not what people in spinning classes do. Despite the name, spinning classes are not about sitting there and spinning at 100 rpm for over an hour.

A good spinning class incorporates a whole lot more than that.
For one thing, sitting and spinning out is, at most 20 or 30% of spinning. The rest of the time is spent standing and climbing, doing long seated climbs, or sprinting (and not always from the seated position).
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Old 06-29-13, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
For one thing, sitting and spinning out is, at most 20 or 30% of spinning. The rest of the time is spent standing and climbing, doing long seated climbs, or sprinting (and not always from the seated position).
And intervals!


In the classes I've taken, the spinning is more for warm-up, cool-down, and the occasional short rest somewhere in the middle.
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Old 06-29-13, 09:45 PM
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I am a member of a Nautilus Gym and like that they have free weights. I can work out using barbells and dumbbells to increase my strength. Having a squat rack is especially useful. In addition, they have several pull up bars and dip stations.

Last edited by JoeMan; 06-29-13 at 09:46 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 06-29-13, 10:06 PM
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My last surviving aunt just joined a gym at 81. She had no fun watching her brothers and sisters decline. She hired a personal trainer for 6 mos. Her grandkids joined with her.

I sit and spin at 100 in spin class when we're seated until I my legs really start to burn. Then I slow down so I don't blow up. If you think you're strong, just crank 1/2 a turn when the instructer says 1/4. That'll fix you right up.
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Old 06-30-13, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
My last surviving aunt just joined a gym at 81. She had no fun watching her brothers and sisters decline. She hired a personal trainer for 6 mos. Her grandkids joined with her.
It's funny you mention this. I am discussing with Machka a career possibility in personal training, with emphasis on seniors health and fitness. I figure there is a growing market for it, and that older people may relate better with older people, like me, who can see the results of a bit of planning and effort.
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Old 06-30-13, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I sit and spin at 100 in spin class when we're seated until I my legs really start to burn. Then I slow down so I don't blow up. If you think you're strong, just crank 1/2 a turn when the instructer says 1/4. That'll fix you right up.
That's just it ... as you adjust the tension, you adjust the workout.

Just about anyone could spin at 100 with no tension on the bikes.
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Old 06-30-13, 06:15 AM
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I belong to a Razor Sharp Fitness Center (Membership is $29.00 a month) and I took their free physical assessment and hired a personal trainer for a month to help me with golf related exercises and flexibility. I have seen the trainer three times and have been in the gym every day Mon-Fri for the past 6 weeks. I went riding the other day and my pace was faster, and my overall ride was much more enjoyable than it was last year. IMHO there is a huge benefit to adding weight training to your cycling.
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Old 06-30-13, 06:20 AM
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I am a member of a gym and was going regularly until I lost my gym buddy. It's no real excuse I know.

They can be great and give you a good variety of workouts but only if you attend. I wish I had gone casually to get a feel for it before locking myself into a contract. I find it much easier to motivate myself to go for a ride/walk/run from home than to have to drive to another location to do it.
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Old 06-30-13, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
It's funny you mention this. I am discussing with Machka a career possibility in personal training, with emphasis on seniors health and fitness. I figure there is a growing market for it, and that older people may relate better with older people, like me, who can see the results of a bit of planning and effort.
All true, but like any job or self-employment that a lot of people would enjoy doing and which doesn't require owning expensive equipment or 10 years of college, it usually doesn't pay squat Which can be just fine as long as one isn't trying to live off it.
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Old 06-30-13, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
All true, but like any job or self-employment that a lot of people would enjoy doing and which doesn't require owning expensive equipment or 10 years of college, it usually doesn't pay squat Which can be just fine as long as one isn't trying to live off it.
Hmmm... thank you for the input. Something to think about and research a bit more.
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Old 07-02-13, 08:34 AM
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yup, I use it year round. weight training & running. last gym had racquetball, lap pool, sauna & hot tub.

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