My next gym trial was at LA Fitness. The name screams style, hollywood stars and top technology machines. It also screams high monthly membership fees, but we'll come to that bit later. I was delighted to find that they offered a 3-day free membership trial, and on top of my Groupon voucher to 10 individual day passes for a total of £15, it's barely cost me a bean! (A pay-as-you-go session is £10) I've actually saved over £115 (costing me £1.15 per session (13 sessions) instead of a collective £130). Score!
Within 24 hours of signing up online to their 3-day trial, I had a nicely-timed phone call from a lovely lady who was asking about my fitness goals, booked me in for a spinning class, and organised my induction meeting for my trial. So 12pm on Saturday (a time I'd arranged) I met 'Barry' from LA Fitness, a very enthusiastic, charming and friendly guy with twinkly eyes who chatted to me about the possibility of joining, and if I needed any help getting started (as if!). Then I entered into the world of LA Fitness. The fitness studio is long, and there is no other way to describe it than literally an 'army' of machinery. I was delighted to find a huge range of machines including a slightly older version of my beloved AMT (Adaptive Motion Trainer), and a 'skater' machine which re-creates the movements of roller blading (VERY good for thigh muscles and glutes!) - a machine I'd only ever seen before in France. Bonus points there! Hygiene stations providing wet wipes were dotted around the place (another winner), and along one side was a row of TVs which you could plug your earphones into your machine and have a choice of four channels (one of them being music). Motivational quotes were plastered around the walls, including my favourite: 'Now the hard bit's over' as you enter the gym (actually getting yourself up and out to go to the gym is the biggest hurdle).
It would have been nice to have some natural light streaming into the studio, but then again, being in the middle of city who knows what was behind all those blocked out windows...! Despite hygiene stations, few people actually clean their machines after use, and they certainly were not cleaned regularly by gym staff. (At Stratford I regularly see trainers working their way around with a bucket of soapy/sterilised water thoroughly cleaning all the machines.) It's a good gym - still no PowerPlates, and not my favourite gym - but it's definitely a top gym I've experienced. I'd have thought though, with so many people paying their overpriced £40 membership per month, that they'd be able to afford more modern machinery. £40 is a LOT - particularly for the humble student. Barry made a fair point that even if did a spin class once a week, it'd cost more per month just doing that than if I signed up for £40/month with unlimited use of classes and gym. For now though I'm just grateful I still have my Groupon vouchers to use up (they're going to hate me).
Last night I attended the spin class I'd booked in, being a very keen spinner. And boy, it was amazing! It ticked all my spin class boxes. The bikes (amazing - I actually prefer the older bikes, which make you work harder, than the new all-flashy Trixter bikes which are the 'spin bikes of the moment'), the playlist (upbeat, created by the trainer with latest tracks and NOT just a Ministry of Sound workout CD), the lighting (LIGHTS=OFF. No one likes to see you sweat and vice versa. The main studio lights were off and we spun in a dark room with small UV spotlights lined around the edge of the ceiling - VERY cool), and most importantly, the instructor. This is where we get to a tiny issue, as Becky, the spin instructor was actually filling in yesterday evening, and usually coaches/motivates at Fitness First, yet another gym (yet to try) in Brighton. So SHE was brilliant, but doesn't give me insight into how good the LA Fitness spin instructors are. After the amazing, intense and energetic class she asked if we had any comments/if we'd enjoyed it, and everyone instantly enthused greatly and asked if she could come regularly to LA Fitness as they'd seriously enjoyed the session... Suggesting that perhaps the spin instructors at LA Fitness might not be so great. But for Becky, I think she actually beats Stratford's spin sessions (they bought new bikes... big mistake). The *ONLY* downside to the class was that the room seemed to lack in ventilation, which made the huge mirror-covered wall steam up within about 10 minutes of the class starting. I also forgot to bring a towel/flannel, so impulsively grabbed a wadge of toilet roll, which of course disintegrated in shreds over my face resulting in me exiting the studio looking like a crazed yeti. Fortunately it was dark and I legged it home!
Spin class: 5/5, although with an instructor from another gym, does it speak for LA Fitness or Fitness First? Might have to go again... (next time without toilet paper debacle)
LA Fitness gym: 3/5 - the machines look rather shabby and unclean, so arm yourself before starting, with the provided wet wipes.