Is a Luxury Gym Right for You?

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Like my dream of being in a bell ensemble, my goal of going to the gym five straight days during my trial at Equinox remains unrealized. I managed to get there Monday through Wednesday, attending classes each day.

The classes at Equinox are on another level to anything I’d ever taken. The instructors were all very good. (I should also note that I rarely take classes that don’t involve food). I have a “get in/get out” mentality toward the gym. Equinox made me linger. That was mostly connected to trying to get the most out of my trial week.

This approach backfired since my body was prepared more for Thanksgiving than a fitness assault from encouraging instructors. My legs are almost back to 100% from the plyometrics class Tuesday and Wednesday’s Pilates session. I hobbled around the past few days and my quads still feel like they have rocks in them.

During my initial tour, I was told the biggest differentiator from other gyms was the classes.

When you compare gyms head-to-head there are a few main criteria:

  • Quality/Functioning of machines
  • Cleanliness
  • Clientele
  • Classes

Weights are weights. There should be no distinction for core uses of a gym. Weights and benches should be available, with some exceptions for peak usage hours. I went at lunch and after work. While I went straight to classes, the gym wasn’t packed so there wouldn’t have been an issue getting the weights I needed (5 pounders). Equinox had increments I didn’t know existed. They started at 5 pounds, then went up by 2 1/2 pounds. So there was a 7 1/2 pound dumbbell all the way up to a 27 1/2 pound. Then they normalized and increased by 5 pound increments. And a true move of differentiation, they had gear I’d never seen, like a series of pipes called ViPR. I didn’t have time to check those out.

Equinox is a luxury gym and nailed it on every category. They had staff walking around cleaning all the machines. The clientele didn’t give the gym rat vibe. If anything, I feared I was scaring the regulars with my non-branded athletic apparel.

The staff was incredibly friendly, whether or not that was because I am a prospective member or they give that personal touch to everyone, I don’t know. As of this writing, my feet display no signs of fungus. Decision time looms. I anticipate a call from the membership staff asking if I’m ready to join and I don’t know what to say.

How much do you pay for your gym? What’s the maximum you would spend?

Can I start a Kickstarter for my fitness?

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Irresistible Abs

I have no qualms admitting that Todd is a well-made man.

Todd was the instructor in today’s episode of masochism. You know you have a problem when you struggle getting out of your office chair to walk.

My goal during my trial at Equinox is to sample the gym. So far that has meant taking classes and an occasional shower. I apologize to my coworkers for Monday. I didn’t have time to scrub off my grime and shame before returning to the office.

I have gone to three classes in three days: vinyasa flow on Monday, Stacked! yesterday, and today I dropped in on a Pilates class.

The only other time I attempted Pilates was at my former gym. That class was more of a variation on yoga than Pilates movements. Today’s class included a block, weights and a magic circle.

Similar to Monday’s yoga class, the instructor began by asking if anyone wanted to focus on certain areas or had injuries. I neglected to share that my everything was sore from living at the gym for the past few days. During my silence a woman urged for “glute work.” Then another chimed in “abs!” Have you women no decency? Did you not see me shuffle in the room like a roomba with a low battery?

Todd put on some acoustic music and guided us through some stretches and warm-up activities. Pilates is given a tarnished reputation as being a feminine activity. It was established to keep a man for while in a POW camp. Fitness is an everyone activity. Male/female. Young/old. Just stay active. Whatever motivates you or excites you beats inactivity.

Pilates deviates from standard cardio that elevates your heart rate through movement. Instead, the goal is slow and controlled movement. I still sweat profusely and raised my resting heart rate. Pilates also includes pulsing, a term I had only encountered with ab work. Pulsing are micro movements that isolate a muscle group, seemingly all abdominal.

The class was predominantly geared toward irresistible absĀ and leg work. Two areas I seldom work out. The hour went quickly and the instructor was very good. Unlike my experience with yoga, where I have comparisons, I don’t have other teachers as measurement aids. He was extremely enthusiastic and inspiring from a strength perspective.

I have a no-win situation with in-class adjustments. When I don’t get corrected, I assume I’m doing everything correctly. But I like some level of personal attention and guidance. Todd was one of the best I’ve seen at giving personalized feedback on improving a movement, while encouraging everyone. He helped me with a few exercises to properly align and target the correct muscle groups. After today’s class, I would argue those areas are missing from my anatomy.

When someone can do a pose with no seeming distress and instruct a class, I’m in awe. He held what looked like variations of boat pose and instructed the class on the desired movement. He wasn’t winded. He didn’t even struggle. His flexibility and core strength was incredible. My legs quaked trying to hold the foam block in between them. If I were able to move my arms, I would have applauded Todd.

Each style of fitness has an end goal. Body builders chase bulk. Marathon/cardio nuts tend to be lean with little muscle definition. Yoga, no homogeneity. If the instructor is the poster child for a Pilates body, which I’d argue Todd was, Pilates builds great posture, functional strength and flexibility. Coincidentally, three areas I need to develop.

If I am able to walk in the near future, I’ll be finding my way to more Pilates classes. Off to foam roll what once were my legs and whimper before passing out and repeating tomorrow.