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Gym Hunters

by Meghann on April 13, 2011

I need a gym.

Despite my previously complicated relationship with the gym, I’ve realized that training for a Half Ironman and the impending HOT summer months require a membership. I need a pool. I need a treadmill. And I need a community to sweat with. πŸ™‚

As long as I commit and use my membership, I have no problem joining one. It’s just a matter of finding one that fits all my needs.

There are three gyms within a few miles of my condo that I plan to test out over the next couple of weeks before signing on the dotted line.

First up?

The local YMCA.


My parents belong to the YMCA back home and I’ve always been a fan of the tight knit YMCA community in their area. I headed to the Y this morning after printing off a 3 day guest pass.

The staff was super friendly when I walked in and even offered a tour of the facility before my work out. They have a great fitness schedule, updated equipment, spinning, pool, etc. – everything I was looking for.

As I was touring my guide asked what I hoped to get out of my membership. I told her I wanted to take advantage of the pool for my half ironman training. She immediately perked up and informed me there was a huge TriClub based in the gym and more than a few members were training for Augustus in September. (Yay!)

The Y even has a specialized Tri schedule listing all their classes that would be beneficial in training.


I’m particularly interested in the Masters Swim Class.


I know where I’ll be tomorrow morning. πŸ˜‰

After the tour I spent 20 minutes on the elliptical, then attempted some weights. Maybe with my gym membership I’ll invest with a personal training session or two to refresh my memory on what to do in the weight room. Maybe.

I still have a couple of other gyms to explore. The Y is a little pricier than I want to spend, but they did catch my eye with the TriClub. Decisions. Decisions. πŸ™‚

What do you look for when joining a gym?

By the time I got home it was well pass my normal breakfast time and I was starving.

Enter left over Red Velvet Pancakes.


I toasted two pancakes and topped them with ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, strawberries, and a little granola.


The pancakes were almost better than they were on Saturday. I toasted them in the toaster which gave them a nice crust.


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1 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 13, 2011 at 10:41 am

it really does make a difference to have a great gym accessible even if you usually train outdoors!

I managed fitness center and worked as a PT and group fit trainer so I’m very picky. However the most important things I look for is nice staff, no pressure sales pitch, and a reasonable contract! never sign one that doesn’t let you cancel!

2 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 13, 2011 at 10:41 am

BTW I NEED to make those red velvet pancakes !

3 Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin April 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

I like a gym to be in a convenient location, have nice equipment, and have a good class schedule! I currently have a gym in my apartment building so the location can’t be beat, but I hate that I can’t do classes!

Those red velvet cupcakes look amazing!!
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4 Honey B. Nutrition April 13, 2011 at 10:43 am

What a fun process! I love trying out new gyms! The major things I look for are location and how I feel when I’m there. I have to like the gym and I have to be able to get there easily. If you don’t go, it’s a waste of money no matter how cheap it is! I don’t consider the lowest cost gyms in my area because I don’t enjoy being there as much, so I know I wouldn’t be as enticed to get there. That Y sounds great!
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5 chloe@ 321delish April 13, 2011 at 10:43 am

At first I thought that was strawberry sorbet! What a fun breakfast! Did it stain your teeth red?

ps: one of the things I DON’T want in a gym but I DO look for is pushy gym employees. I like going to the gym to “do my thing” and I don’t want to feel like I am going to get asked to sign up for this or that or feel pressured to extend my membership, etc.
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6 Meghann April 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Nope. No red teeth here. πŸ™‚

7 Carolyn H. April 13, 2011 at 10:44 am

I am a member of the Tampa Tri Team which is actually based out of the Bob Sierra YMCA. Great group of people to surround yourself with. I am a life long member of the YMCA and LOVE it. I also swim on Master’s and love that. I just love the pool. I just signed up for a 2.4 mile open water swim on May 7th. Wanna join? Sounds great for IronMan training?!?! wink wink.
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8 Carolyn H. April 13, 2011 at 10:44 am

I also love saying love. πŸ˜‰
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9 Meghann April 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Would love to join, but it’s my sister’s birthday that weekend and I’ll be in Orlando. But let me know if you ever want to meet up for any other swims or bike rides, I could use the training buddy! πŸ™‚

10 Carolyn @Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. April 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Yes! Training buddies are FUN. I’ll be out of town for the next 2 weeks for work, but after that, tri training is on.
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11 Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out April 13, 2011 at 10:44 am

Childcare! It’s priority numero uno on my gym membership needs. My YMCA has a play place – similar to the indoor ones at a fast food restaurant. The kids love going so much that they beg to go.

12 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun April 13, 2011 at 10:47 am

Or you could just wait to hang out with me and have our workout date. πŸ˜‰

That’s so cool they have a tri community there. That will be great for training!
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13 Callie April 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

That’s a great YMCA! Our godson’s family belongs there so we have been there for many basketball and soccer games. We even had his birthday party at their pool last year. Have you seen it yet? It’s pretty amazing – at least the kids part is. πŸ™‚
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14 Holly @ The Runny Egg April 13, 2011 at 10:50 am

When we were looking for a new gym we looked at location, cost and what the gym had to offer — we really just needed a good selection of weights, treadmills and ellipticals and bikes. We found one for $25/month for the two of us, and we’ve been happy there for the past 2 years!
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15 Jen @ keepitsimplefoods April 13, 2011 at 10:52 am

Wow! Those pancakes sound delicious! Hmmm…when looking for a gym, I often go for one that offers great classes at a variety of times and one that isn’t too crowded. Good luck!

16 Hats @ See How She Runs April 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

I enjoy trying out new gyms too. I currently have two gym memberships:
– one for the pool/sauna/steam room/upscale (and often empty) gym << this one is attached to a hotel
– one for BodyPump/other classes<< this one is a county fitness centre – it's cheaper to be a member than pay for individual classes

The gyms are just a few minutes walk away from each other, on opposites sides of a small river. It might seem like quite a lot to pay out but I definitely get my money's worth out of both.
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17 Julia April 13, 2011 at 10:55 am

Location location location. If its not convenient to me I won’t go.
The gym I belong to is literally behind my full time job I see it when I walk to my car. No reason at all that I can’t make it before or after work depending on what my day looks like. I think my membership will be a little neglected this month and next since I’ve been utilitzing the trail by my house, but I have no doubt I’ll be back to it once the full force of the midwest summer heat/humidity sets in!
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18 Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 13, 2011 at 10:56 am

I’m nostalgic about my gym. My parents have been members for over 20 years and used to take me sometimes as a young kid. I joined when I was 18 and I followed the gym to it’s new building.
Even when I moved away for a couple years I kept my membership.

19 Jessica April 13, 2011 at 10:56 am

I would be curious to know what the price difference is between the YMCA and LAFitness – I really like LA but I feel like I could find a better deal than 24/mo which is what I pay now.
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20 Meghann April 13, 2011 at 9:30 pm

The Y was $40/ month :/

21 Ashley April 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

The Y is on the pricier side. I’m trying to find a gym for the summer. The pancakes look great!

22 Kara April 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

I think if I looked for a gym now, the childcare would be my number one priority! But my home gym is pretty nice too πŸ™‚
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23 kristy @ April 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

I really want to join the Y but it’s so dang expensive! Their pool is awesome though!
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24 Robyn @ April 13, 2011 at 11:05 am

I look for convenient hours– are they open early or late? I don’t want to go when I have to be waiting on a machine with the crowds and I’m typically an early bird. I also look for a pool. I like group fitness class schedules that are not only offered at typical times. One place I tried only had them during the work day– what good does that do for most people?! I also don’t want a meat market! I’m there to get my workout on, not get hit on every time I go or be made to feel self-conscious… I don’t want a place that is crawling with creep-o’s! YMCA’s are really great because they offer a wide variety and are typically family friendly.
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25 Chelsea April 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

I used to work at the YMCA and we offered a MFA or Membership For All. You could qualify for a lower monthly price if you made under $60,000 a year. Just by showing them your latest W2’s and 1040’s plus any additional info (such as this year you are working for yourself) you could get a lower rate. I hope yours does that! I love the YMCA family! I know some gyms can be fancier, but the Y is so family orriented! Hope you something that fits all your needs!
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26 Kacy April 13, 2011 at 11:18 am

I need good classes, nice cardio equipment (in a non-awkward part of the gym) and nice staff. Location and cleanliness are important as well!
Kacy recently posted..A Healthy Habit Journey- Post 9 from the SIL- Eat More Fiber!

27 Dori April 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

The TriClub sounds awesome. This gym seems like a great choice.
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28 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

That’s great that there’s a Tri club! I’m employed by my gym as a fitness instructor so that’s very convenient, but a few things I look for are cleanliness, a variety of group exercise classes, a good spinning studio (because I’m biased to the classes I teach!), friendly staff, and educated trainers. That’s so convenient that you’ve got a pool to use there too. I used to swim competitively but haven’t really done much since I moved back to Canada. I miss it!
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29 Emily April 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

I am a HUGE fan of ymcas. There is such a community feel to them and they almost always have pools, which for a triathlete is obviously a big win. I actually help coach with my local y’s tri program and I think the club is the best in the area. It’s amazing how much people improve and how close they get with their fellow athletes!

30 Gavi @ Gavi Gets Going! April 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

Masters swim is awesome–I highly recommend it! I’ve been doing it one or two times a week since January with a friend of mine who is training for Ironman. It’s an amazing workout, and I feel like I’ve really improved. I look for good facilities (workout space, group exercise room, spin room, pool, locker room), a range of group exercise classes that will fit in with my schedule, and kind and friendly staff when choosing a gym. Good luck!
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31 Kathryn April 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

My gym is pretty pricey BUT for me, it’s totally worth it. I would much rather spend more on a gym than on clothes or eating out. I try to save money in the other areas of my life so I have a little extra to spend on my gym. The gym is close to my house and work–within walking distance. That’s also key. Less money on gas! Plus, because it’s the highest level of my gym chain, I have access to all the other levels around the city/nation! You should also see if your insurance offers any deals–like Blue Cross Blue Shield takes off $20 per month if you work out 8 times during the month. Good luck!
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32 Jen April 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

Location, Location, Location….

If it’s too far…you won’t go and it’ll be a waste of money.

33 Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles April 13, 2011 at 11:36 am

I’m excited that you see potential in your local YMCA – I can’t wait to hear how the Masters Swim class goes tomorrow! πŸ™‚

34 Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 13, 2011 at 11:36 am

A Tri club?! How cool! Sounds like you found a community to sweat with, eh? πŸ˜‰ I always look for the right equipment, and class offerings. If yoga isn’t included, I’m less than enthused, since it can be so pricey to go to a studio.
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35 Ali @ Ali Runs April 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

Wow, the tri-club is pretty cool!! I wish they offered that at my gym. Good luck picking a gym, it can be a big decision!
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36 Jen423 April 13, 2011 at 11:49 am

Just strikes me funny that at the time you’re looking to workout INDOORS I am looking to workout OUTDOORS. However, I live in Ohio so that pretty much explains why. ha ha

Good luck in your gym hunt. I have two choices in my small town and if I want a pool, the Y is the only way to go. I pay $37.10/mo and feel it’s well worth it considering I have a lot of options and they just got a lot of new equipment.

37 Brittany April 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm

As a YMCA employee, I’m totally biased πŸ˜‰ But really, your local Y sounds like it has a lot of variety…and the Tri club is pretty neat! Good luck with the decision πŸ™‚
Brittany recently posted..Flying Pirate Half Marathon

38 Angela April 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I go that Y, as well as the Interbay in South Tampa. It is a little pricey, but there are a few tricks to get your price knocked down. You do a “family membership.” If you find 1 or 2 other people to join with you the price goes down significantly, and they don’t have to be actual family members. You can also get a scholarship based on your income. I thought I would make too much to qualify for one, but it turns out that for a single membership I did qualify for a little break.
Enjoy your Y time!

39 Rae April 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Usually you can join a tri club without the gym part-I know in New York we do group workouts, etc. that are not gym contingent. I would try to doa google serach for tri clubs in your area and see what you can find πŸ™‚
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40 Alaina April 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’m a Y member and they gave me a tour and asked what my goals were too. πŸ™‚

I have a membership through Military One Source and I love it!
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41 Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me April 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

The gym MUST be convenient. I need to practically drive by it everyday. That way I have no excuse and just pull right in. Needs to be kept in good shape and have good equipment. Right now I have a gym that has everything! But once I turn 26 (still a couple years away) the price more than doubles! SO I will have to cancel then and probably look for a cheaper option. That will be tough!!
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42 Kerry April 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm

It came down to deciding how a gym fit in with my current needs. I didn’t want to go into the gym wanting to revamp my whole lifestyle. I was looking for early hours, clean showers and locker rooms for before work exercises, friendly atmosphere, and classes that fit in my schedule. I think people can burn out and get “bored” with a gym if they don’t see how it fits in with their life.

43 Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope April 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Haven’t been in a bit, but i am a member of SHAPES. it’s all women, and i like that. I don’t feel as self-conscience at all.
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44 Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope April 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Not sure where you are in Tampa, but there are a few locations, if interested:
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45 Shannon April 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I am a member of my local YMCA and I love it. I mostly joined so I would have access to a pool but I love the other equipment and resources available
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46 Liza April 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I am a member of the Y and I love it. Also I am training for a triathlon, so I have been in the pool alot. Done a master swim program a few times back home( I am in grad school) and it was GREAT!!!! Cannot wait to hear how you like it!

47 Michaela April 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Important things before joining a gym:
1) see if they can waive their joining fee or at least reduce it
2) check what their cancellation policy is
3) checking cleanliness of showers as well as hot water and water pressure
4) entertainment on cardio machines

48 Jamie @ getalivingsense April 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I absolutely LOVE the Y! It’s the only gym I’ve ever belonged to, aside from my college gym. It’s the greatest!
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49 Biz April 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I couldn’t even tell you where the nearest Y is around here – I totally forgot about that place!

I belong to two gyms – one near work (its super cheap – only $25 for me and only has the treadmills/stairmasters/etc.). The other one is near my house – totally deluxe locker rooms, pool, spa, day care, snack bar, pool, etc. – for my family of 3 its $130 a month.

Hopefully after my husband recovers from his colon cancer, he’ll try swimming – its such good exercise for his artificial knees! πŸ˜€
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50 Sarah April 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I love leftovers! Those pancakes look amazing! I never would’ve thought to put ricotta cheese on them.. interesting

51 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife April 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I look for a gym with a nice, clean pool, awesome group X classes, and lots of good cardio equipment. Now I have a free pass to my gym b/c I am an instructor-it is a really nice gym and a sweet deal πŸ™‚ Yummy b-fast, lady!!

52 Christine @ Burning It Off April 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I’m a group exercise junkie so for me it’s all about the class schedules. A good mix of classes offered at a variety of times throughout the week is key… right now I belong to GoodLife and I’m obsessed with the Les Mills classes. Whether I go in the morning, afternoon or evening, there’s bound to be a good class on, which is great because my schedule varies from day to day.
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53 Hope April 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Red Velvet pancakes look and sound heavenly!! I must make these! Love the color πŸ™‚
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54 katie April 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

The YMCA really is a great gym to join! Thats where I go and I do love the amazing amount of classes they have to offer!

Love the pancakes, oh my , yum!
katie recently posted..Out fit

55 Emily @ Savory and Savage April 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I love my local Y – and the Y definitely has more of a community atmosphere than most gyms.
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56 Clare @ Fitting It All In April 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I belong to my parent’s gym which I LOVE, but none of the classes fit my schedule! When I finally join on on my own I’m going to make sure it has spinning and weight lifting classes I can take, a good locker room to shower in, and plenty of TVs where I can watch what I want during long runs!

57 Lisa (bakebikeblog) April 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I cannot stress enough how WONDERFUL Masters classes are when it comes to swimming and training for an event! They are BRILLIANT!!!!

58 tracy April 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

i guess i’m really picky when it comes to gyms- i look for
1) free weights- dumbbells
2) squat racks with olympic bars, and hopefully bumper plates
3) rowing machine
4) plyo boxes
5) pullup bar

haha. i’m spoiled. it’d be nice to have lockers that don’t require money adn better showers, but not all gyms are perfect ! πŸ˜€

and now i have an intense craving for pancakes. carrot cake, since i’ve never had those before!
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59 Whitney April 14, 2011 at 7:27 am

I would say the number one thing I look for when joining a gym are the classes they offer. If they offer great weight lifting classes, cycling, and boot camps I’m usually sold. Working out with a group and committing to a class gives me motivation to go.
Whitney recently posted..Life Lessons

60 Pam April 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

I LOVE my YMCA. It doesn’t look as nice as that one, and they definitely don’t offer as much. But you’re right about the community. I’ve made some really good friends in the group fitness classes there. It’s very personal, and all the instructors know me and notice if I miss a class. I recommend!!
Pam recently posted..Wednesday Turn Around

61 clare @ April 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

Hey there, came across this post. I’m doing my first half ironman in May (White Lake Half Ironman in White Lake, NC) after running marathons for years. I’m all good with the swimming because I’ve been doing that forever but the bike is soooo technical!!! Just bought a brand new road bike/pedals/shoes/aero bars and it’s intimidating. I look forward to reading more about your training in the future!! πŸ™‚
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62 Katie G. April 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I LOVE my current gym! The staff is so friendly (very important), the equipment and classes are great, the pool is decent, the showers are always hot, locker rooms are clean, and they have towel service. Check.
And they have great quotes on a bulletin at the entrance, updated each day. They always make me smile and feel so motivated!
Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a bit more and go to a place that you enjoy being at and feel comfortable working out in.
Good luck in your search!
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