Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kiss off, you fitness nazis

Today I learned that Healthworks is raising its fee by $10 per month, and I am incandescent with rage. The current fee is $79 unless you’re a student, so I’m now officially taking it up the butt from a place I dislike so much that I rarely even GO.

I joined Healthworks under duress last winter, when I was desperate for a gym within walking distance of my apartment that wasn’t Bally’s. I’d just exhausted a 2-week guest pass at the super-swank Healthpoint BSC club and was so glad that Healthworks had this one particular machine (that rotating stair machine that the HW organization dubbed “the gauntlet”) that I sucked up the exorbitant rates without a second thought, figuring I’d quit as soon as spring came around. But then summer was really hot and I was lazy, and then it was cold again.

I loathe Healthworks. They turned down half of the magazines that Carmen brought in, probably because the reading material wasn’t glossy or gossip-oriented. The first time I worked out there after I joined, I tried to use one of the elliptical trainers. One of the butch, ever-alert attendants curtly let me know that I’d forgotten to sign up for that particular piece of equipment and therefore had to relinquish it to someone who had.


If you live in Boston, you know that there are two types of women in this town: those with an unconditional love of Healthworks, and those who think the place is overhyped.

The Healthworks lovers are almost evangelical in their ardor. Get into a conversation about gyms with them and they will brook no criticism of their beloved house of fitness. “Oh my god, I LOVE IT there!” they say. “I live for their classes!” One woman I know once told me, “I don’t know what I’d do without Healthworks. I’m here every day.”

The women who don’t love Healthworks are a large and motley crew. Any woman (and it has to be a woman because Healthworks’ claim to fame is that they are a woman-only gym) who can’t afford their exorbitant fees or, if they do belong, can’t deal with the snotty attendants, doesn’t think the classes are all that, or finds the book-thick list of rules to be cumbersome—these women fall into the latter group. I am most definitely one of them.

They lure you in with their upscale, aesthetically pleasing ads on the T and in the Improper. And their facilities are nice. They have lots of equipment. The locker room in the Cambridge gym has a whirlpool that the resident lesbians love to congregate around, and the bathrooms are full of fliers advertising jewelry shows and expensive exercise training sessions. You can rent a towel for $1.50 or buy water for $1.50, and unless you remembered to bring your own water, you don’t have a choice about shelling out because the water fountains have been broken for the past three months.

I’ve sat through the “hour ride” spinning classes in which the instructor implored us not to push too hard. I’ve stretched through the “advanced vinyasa flow” yoga class, which was neither advanced nor vinyasa nor flow (it was a decent Iyengar class but they didn’t call it Iyengar, did they??). The instructor came over to me in the middle of a pose and had the gall to say, “I can tell that you have an advanced Ashtanga practice but we don’t do that here.” I’ve battled it out for the Gravitron machine, the situp mats, and the gauntlet machines (when they’re not broken), and I stuck out my complimentary personal training session with a male trainer who could clearly care less about building a clientele. And they are never open on holidays.

Somehow I rationalized the $80 monthly fee because the place was so convenient. But after today they can kiss my finely toned ass. They can shove their price hike and their upscale image.Bally’s might be ghetto but at least they don’t put on airs. I’d rather deal with crowds and older elliptical machines than put up with the Healthworks attitude any more.


clipper829 said...

When I lived in Cambridge, I went to the Porter Square Bally's. It's really not that bad. I mean, it can get crowded at the really peak times, but I never had to wait more than 5 minutes for an elliptical or treadmill, and for about 20 bucks a month, and on my way home from the T, it suited me fine.

I personally thought (and still think) that Healthworks is a ripoff, and add that to the mess that is the Porter Square Mall parking lot? I went with Bally's.

Anonymous said...

Where are the whirlpools which the lesbians love to congegrate at? Which one? Are they hot?

Bally's isn't that bad. Besides you may meet guys there. Leave the lesbians for me thanks! :)