Picking a New Gym

I’m not exaggerating when I say that my biggest concern for my new job was finding a new gym.

As I’ve stated before, my last gym was really good and really good for me. In addition to having really good trainers there, the group class approach clicked with me. So finding the closest possible replication was my top priority when I moved to Ohio.

It didn’t quite happen like that.

I don’t have a car yet, so I’m limited to a fairly narrow radius. Within that range, there are… well… three options.

One was Snap Fitness, which was never really in contention. Fine for what it is, but it’s the least convenient option. The gym itself was perfectly fine, and there were some classes, but not at times that are terribly practical for me (my work schedule is just unusual enough to make it tricky) and they seemed to be a bit less intense than what I’m ready for.

The real options were between the YMCA and Xenia Elite Fitness—as they’re closer to both where I live and work. Neither one really has classes comparable to what I was looking for—XEF doesn’t seem to have any (although it says some are coming), and the Y’s are not super-compatible with my wonky schedule. (And, again, I’m not sure that they’re quite at the level I’m looking for.)

Fortunately, I’ve been developing my own workouts since moving and, so far, it seems to be working okay. So the lack of classes isn’t quite a dealbreaker, at least not yet.

The Y is bigger and better appointed, although some of that is the extras—things like racquetball courts and a swimming pool that might be nice but that are peripheral to what I’m likely to use. I was also impressed—or at least, intrigued by the potential—of the high-intensity room with a new WOD every day (as the OD implies).

The C in YMCA gave me a bit of pause, although as far as I know, the Y’s implementation of C is relatively close to the founder’s intent, rather than certain modern implementations based more around judgement and hatred of undesirables than making the world a better place. So I could have dealt with that.

But ultimately I went with XEF.

It’s smaller, but it has enough—including a nice selection of free weights, which is the big thing I need. Supporting local business is also a plus. They’re promising a climbing rope soon, which is actually a bit of a selling point, given its OCR usefulness.

And, I guess, it felt right. Any of the three options, I’d likely be building largely on what I’d been doing in Chicago, which in a lot of cases means doing my own thing that isn’t necessarily what the crowd would be doing. (I think my workouts are reasonably intense, but they don’t match either what the musclebros do or the “let’s read while vaguely moving on the elliptical” crowd.*) And it seemed like that would be sort of OK there.

I did consider not joining a gym at all. I worked out in the park for the first couple weeks I was here, and that worked. But I’m not really terribly good at building all-bodyweight workouts that can keep me interested. In short, it’s really valuable to have heavy things to pick up and put down that aren’t quite as heavy as me.

Anyhow, we’ll see how it works out. Thus far, it’s been okay. (In fact, I’ve never been there when there were more than about 4 people in the gym, which is nice. In fact, I’ve even had the place all to myself one of the three or so times I’ve been there.)



*One weird, currently amusing but possibly sinister thing: XEF does have a fairly large collection of magazines to read—all of them clearly targeting women. Slightly odd, especially as the read-on-the-machine crowd seems to be roughly evenly split, gender-wise, but at this point it’s something I’m going to investigate.


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