Okay, you've decided - or your tight pants have decided for you. It's time to join a gym to get in shape. Who has the best fitness deals in Columbus? A sampling follows below, but first, a few things to keep in mind.
1. Come to the gym at the time you think you are most likely to work out. Are there enough machines & equipment for everyone? Does the place look packed with people? Will the gym be open when you want to work out? Do the classes offered at your time appeal to you?
2. Think location and hours. Put your gym between you and work, but in your neighborhood (or join a gym with several locations that are close to where you frequently find yourself). Joining a gym that you'll never get to on the weekends or in the early morning is a waste of money.
3. Think nice and clean. Are staff friendly and available when you come in? Do they make you feel like you would be a great addition, or do they give you the hard sell right away? Look around for towels & cleaners to wipe off the machines (or hand sanitizer stations), peek into the shower stalls, toilets and changing room areas. If you don't feel 100% comfortable, try another place.
4. Consider a locally-owned gym. These are typically more friendly places, both staff- and cost-wise. While there many not be 20 locations, if you can work out the logistics, you will likely end up with a more positive experience. Locally-owned gyms are starred (*) below.
Here are some of Columbus' best fitness deals to start off 2011. Note: Most gyms seem to guard their New-Years specials so closely that they will only discuss them face-to-face (i.e.for the hard sell). These are the few that would give their rates or listings for fees.
*Oxygen Health and Fitness (Short North, 970 N. High), 297-0419: $25 start-up fee, $35/month, $10/month unlimited fitness classes with no yearly contract. When you join, you will receive a 15-minute massage, a personal training session and a one-on-one meeting with a wellness coach.
*Arena District Athletic Club (Arena District, near corner of Nationwide and Neil), 461-7785: Web-only deal for no initiation fee, no contract, $60 mo. + tax. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Lifestyle Family Fitness (several Central Ohio locations), 866-533-2222: The site offers a "Build Your Membership," with prices ranging from $34.99/mo to $54.99/mo. They do have a last-month charge that must be paid up front.
Almost every gym has a free pass, either for a day or a week. Sign up and take advantage before you choose your new happy place.