Friday, February 20, 2009

This Is a Gym...Really?

No one would ever call me an athlete, but I recognized in my early 20's that going to the gym had to become a part of my life in order to keep the spread of my ass in check. Sadder still, now that I'm in my 30's I have to go a lot more. Sure I could probably cut back on the alcohol, but did I mention that I am in my 30's? I NEED to drink.

Since I must workout I decided that I could at least do it in a pleasant atmosphere, so I joined Equinox a few years ago. Their clubs are always clean, the equipment works and I'm not afraid to use their showers. This was not always the case when I belonged to New York Sports Club.

One of the locations I frequented most often was the club at Amsterdam and 76th street closest to my apartment. That location closed in 2007 for renovations, so I switched over to Columbus Circle, one of the newer and more crowded locations. I waited patiently for the Amsterdam club to reopen, and it finally did on February 12. Last weekend I checked it out and was really annoyed at what it had become.

I heard women griping as soon as I entered the locker room. It sounded like lame theatrics so I didn't pay it too much attention, but I quickly noticed that the lockers were electronic so you couldn't use your own lock - the cause for all the commotion. Personally, I thought the system was kind of cool, but I could see how Equinox hadn't really thought through their target audience when I realized that the women standing around were mostly older (I know I am going to sound really ageist here, but older women DO have more of a learning curve when it comes to technology, just as older men do). Also, without the ability to use your own lock, all the lockers looked the same, which probably made it harder for people to distinguish their lockers.

I stowed my stuff and headed out to the gym...what there was of a gym anyway. The sprawling three floor complex had only one floor devoted to gym equipment and a few classrooms. The rest of the place was all about lounging, with couches and coffee table books scattered around. It was a decorators dream of amazing fabrics, fixtures and other design elements, yet hardly a gym in sight.

Never mind, I headed for a treadmill and did my thing because I WAS THERE TO WORK OUT. The one innovation I thought I'd like in this club was the treadmill, because it had an integrated entertainment center built into the console. However, the design make it hard to change channels on the TV as I was running and the screen was impossibly small. I walked around after my run and was dismayed by how little equipment there was compared to aesthetic touches, and I got angry as I pictured articles in architecture or spa magazines featuring the location.

Granted, Equinox has always been more of a boutique gym than say a NYSC or a Gold's, but this location took the concept too far. I don't want there to be more couches than weight benches at my gym. I want a hook in the shower to hang my towel on, even if it interferes with the feng shui. If I get a chance to steam, please don't make me do it in a room that has an entirely clear glass wall that puts my big ass on display to the rest of the locker room. You don't want that as much as I don't want that!