Girls Run Wild

Get Thee to the Gym!

Posted on: May 10, 2011

Although San Francisco is a great city for outdoor exercise, belonging to a gym never hurts.  If you’re a cardio fiend, love group classes, really want to pump yourself up, or are hoping to meet Prince Charming (or Princess) across a crowded weight room, gyms generally offer all of the above (prince/princess charming is debatable).  If you really don’t want to spend the money to stare at other people in hideous spandex, think about how joining a gym is really an incredible investment into your own health and well-being.

Chains like 24 Hour Fitness, Crunch Fitness, and Gold’s Gym are generally giant workout machines with locations all over the City (and even the country) that provide the basics (weights, cardio machines, group classes, and personal trainers on site for hire) at reasonable monthly rates.  These gyms often get very crowded during peak hours but are usually located in the working hubs and densely populated areas of the City for the sake of convenience.  24 Hour Fitness offers parking in its non-downtown locations.  Having an “all access” membership to one of these gyms also affords you the opportunity to workout when you’re traveling to other cities.  I fully understand the lack of desire to work out when you’re on vacation, but exercise can be a great way to shake off jet lag and maintain your routine so you’re less likely to fall off the training wagon when you get back home.  Many of these gyms offer special deals on joining fees and membership rates – especially around the New Year and towards the beginning of summer.  Membership rates vary, but you can generally expect to pay between $40-$60 per month at one of these gyms.  Want to try one of these gyms out without committing to a full-fledged membership?  Most will give you a free week trial – just ask at the front desk.

The YMCA also offers several gym options around the City – The Presidio, Stonestown, the Richmond, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero (among others) locations are great, especially for families.  A fee schedule can be found here.  If you live within a specific radius of the University of San Francisco, you are eligible for membership to the Koret Center.  Employees of St. Mary’s Hospital, SFPD, SFFD, SF EMTs, and alumni can also join.  Fee schedules can be found here.  Because the school limits who is permitted to join the gym, the cardio machines and weight rooms are rarely overly crowded.  The Koret Center also has a 50 x 25 meter pool and your gym membership includes access to lap swimming and recreational diving. Parking can be difficult in this neighborhood – and the garage attached to the Koret Center is reserved for student and faculty parking pass holders unless one purchases an annual parking pass which is only valid for 2 hours daily.  Because parking is so difficult at USF, you will get ticketed if you don’t play by the rules.

San Francisco offers a few more “select” gym options that of course come at a premium.  Club One has several locations, primarily in the north-eastern section of the city.  The Sports Club LA, located in the Four Seasons Hotel on Market Street, includes an onsite spa, bar/restaurant, and incredible workout amenities.  The San Francisco Bay Club offers basketball hoops, a swimming pool, tennis courts, and state of the art fitness facilities.  Equinox, located in the old Pacific Stock Exchange, Planet Granite, located in the Presidio, and the Jewish Community Center are also options.  Planet Granite is more reasonably priced at $70 per month, but the other gyms listed above can set you back well over $150 per month, initiation fees excluded.  If you’re a student, some of these gyms offer reduced membership fees (for example, Planet Granite charges $53 per month to students).

One way to get a break on monthly fees and initiation costs is to see if your company offers a corporate discount at any of the gyms in the bay area.  My office offers one at Crunch Fitness – our company pays an annual fee (approximately $250) and monthly membership fees are discounted at $42 for all of our employees.  Want your company to offer this benefit?  Do a little research on your own and you might just get what you want.

Although the large gyms in the City are convenient and provide a wealth of exercise options, several smaller one-off gyms and workout studios have been sprouting up to service a different segment of the workout market and to provide workout spaces in neighborhoods where larger gyms are not within walking distance.  I joined one such gym last year when it opened.  LifestyleF.I.T. is located at 15th Avenue and Taraval in the Sunset/Parkside/West Portal area of San Francisco.  Run by the always energetic Lindsay, the studio offers individual and group personal training sessions with a variety of professional trainers in addition to daily group classes ranging from Pilates to yoga to horizontal conditioning to cardio fusion.  What separates this workout studio from a much larger gym is the attention given to both personal training clients and workout class attendees.  Classes are generally small, challenging, and the instructors are really good at helping individuals on form and progression, which you will not find in a larger group class setting.  I highly recommend checking this studio out if you live in the neighborhood (or don’t, like me).  This studio is especially great for people who are easing themselves back into working out.  The instructors are very attentive to adjusting exercises to your own level.  Don’t trust my judgment?  Check out the reviews on Yelp.  Group class rates are reasonably priced – unlimited classes are available for $49 per month or $12 per class on a drop-in basis.  I highly recommend Tuesday night’s Body Conditioning Class with Lauren – which happens to be tonight!

So you might be asking, why all of this information about gyms in San Francisco if the point of training for a half marathon is learning how to run outside?  Training for any run does involve a lot of, well, running, but a lot of my training schedule will actually be devoted to cardio activities other than running – using the elliptical machine, bike, stairmaster, etc.  Training involves increasing one’s running endurance but also upping one’s overall cardiovascular capacity through other forms of exercise.  When starting a new training regime, one is especially prone to injury – running can cause shin splints, blisters, back pain…the list goes on.  You want to be able to train without inducing too much stress on your body – which is why a gym membership is a must.

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1 Response to "Get Thee to the Gym!"

Thanks for the love girl!! And I love your blog. Keep it up!

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