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When cheaper may not necessarily be better….

A little posting primer- http://www2.tbo.com/lifestyles/health-4-you/2012/jun/19/7/report-la-fitness-to-purchase-lifestyle-family-fit-ar-417832/

Im kind of torn. I recently found out  that my gym Lifestyle Family Fitness was purchased by the Megagym La Fitness. I love my gym and my workouts there are a big part of the reason that my running has improved, that many PR’s have fallen, and that I am a stronger, fitter, runner than I was when I started my running journey last year.

At first I found this move to be surprising simply because I had never in and of itself considered LFF a “smaller gym”. The club I train/exercise in is located in Lutz (Fla) and is fairly new  with state of the art facilities. They have a lot of other locations of varying qualities throughout the area.  On a local level LFF is a big name and although I kind of new they were not huge nationally (non-existent practically) I figured they were just a big money regional chain. Long story short, I admit to not realizing that LA Fitness is a monster compared to it.  A ginormous national chain.

I enjoy my current gym and it the programs it offers, do I really want to change that?

My next reaction was to go with the mood of the many talented fitness instructors who currently work at my gym. They hate the switch, are scared by it, and many are directly opposed to it. With good reason too. LFF uses Les Mills Style Fitness Classes (Rpm or Spin, Body Pump, CX Worx) which they are trained on, and have really absorbed and developed into a solid fitness system. LA Fitness refuses to use Les Mills programs. This worries me, because I am a big fan of these programs for a list of reasons

Less Mills programs are consistent and effective. I would not have become a strong runner without them.

1) Consistency– No matter what time or what club location you take your RPM or Pump class it is basically the same. The guideline of the workout is set and you determine your level of involvement. You know an rpm class is going to be 45 minutes of hard work featuring 3 incredibly difficult heavy working tracks. You know its going to be a great interval workout. It doesnt matter if you take the class at 6 pm in Brandon or at 5:45 am in Lutz. It is the same workout guideline. Same goes for any class. Body Pump is going to be a full body, muscle group by muscle group workout. A body pump instructor cant just decide to leave out muscle groups. That isnt how the class works. Everyone is on the same page, everyone knows the rules. The workout level is on you.

2) Continuity- Les Mills classes work in conunction with each other. Body Pump/Spin are a popular pairing at my gym as as Body Pump/Body Combat. I enjoy RPM +, Pump, and CX Worx as a mega cross training workout on Saturdays. It hits my whole body, gets my corss training in, and Im done in 2:30. Guaranteed every saturday. Also, the same basic premise meets all the classes. A warmup, several tracks of varying intensity/purpose and a cool down. You can try something new and basically come in with a understanding of what will be going on.

3) Results- Stick with the classes consistently, and increase the intensity of your workouts within the guideliens and you will see results. RPM was big in the final weight loss that put in my running shape. Pump and Cx Worx have most certainly helped me lean out and make me a stronger runner.  I know people their who have gotten great results from the intense cardio workout of Bodycombat. It pays off.

4) Development- While these classes seem formulaic, the opportunity to progress is there. On your own, you can find ways to increase the intensity of all your workouts. Within the program they are constantly tinkering with new moves, new arrangements, new music, and other ways to keep you fit.

5) Instructors- I have been fortunate. I have passionate, engaging, and talented instructors. They have taken the Less Mills Formats and run with it, and inspired me to great results.

LA Fitnesses offers their own program for sure, but will they match the approach seen here? Seems like it will be hit or miss. Get a great instructor one day and you will have a great class, get a an unispired one and you will have an “eh” workout. Im usually a person who likes individuality and variety in all things. In this case, I prefer the consistency of the LES Mills approach. In this case the one size fits all kind of does it to me. Im regimented about my workouts and I dont want them to be wasted by poor class structure, inconsistent  teacher performance, or junk classes.  In short -to me- loss of Les Mills classes represents a huge loss.

LA is a huge uber gym that would doubtless have all the equipment I need, but can that make up for what I will lose?

So what do I get in return? Access to bigger LA Fitness clubs with courts and pools is certainly cool. However the biggest difference is price. My membership at LFF costs $50 a month with spin classes and all club access. I count it as a valuable fee every month. LA will be cheaper. From all the research I have done, and all the people I have talked to the LA membership is in fact- far cheaper. Like anywhere between S25-40 for the same services I get at LFF right now. No extra for group classes like I currently pay. That much cheaper a month is eye raising to me. Its money to put into my running or my waning social life. It is money I may need for a new pair of shoes or to cover my never ending variety of “Random annoying s***” that happens ” problems.

Is it worth it though? Lots to consider. Is it worth many of my fitness instructors departing? Is it worth the outside chance that one of the clubs I use being shut down? Is it worth dealing with the hassle of a big switch? On one hand I like my routine. I like the way my fitness is headed right now. I like that my gym is helping me become a much better runner/athlete. I enjoy the programs that LFF currently has thoroughly. I dont like messing with productive consistency. But, well, 15 bucks a month is 15 bucks a month? So- Is it worth it? I honestly dont know.  I love what I have now, but close minded negativity is stupidity. Especially when it comes to money. We will see

LA’s big advantage is that is cheaper, beyond that I will reman a healthy skeptic about what is going on.

According to most sources it will be thirty days or so before anything significant changes anyway. This gives me time to chew on it and focus on my July 4th race where I am aching to smash my 10k PR.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy  Your Workout. Enjoy Your Day :0

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A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To… Early AM Spin Classes

This weekend’s runcheap thank you goes out to a get what you pay for, worth every penny type bargain. That helped get me in shape to be a runner, and is now one of my most vital forms of cross training to keep me in shape for running strong and cheap-Spin Classes. In this case, the early am spin classes that I first started with.

Thank you early AM spin classes!

Thank you for getting me into shape to be a healthy runner!

Thank you for helping me establish that morning cardio routine!

Thank you for providing that perfect bit of cross training!

Thank you to the 2 great AM teachers that I have!

Without spinning their would have been no running. It is as simple as that for me. The only reason that I joined the gym this last time around was because they had spin classes. I was desparate to drop weight that I had put back on and wanted tht HIIT training so badly. At the time I wasnt into running, it was still an “eh” type activity for me. I dont think I was truly in a physical shape to enjoy it. But a friend of mine took me to a gym and showed me a spin class. After one 45 minute class I was hooked. I drove to a gym closer to my house with spin classes, and signed up that same night.

My spin classes are known as "RPM"

I was exceptionally fortunate. My local gym has spin classes at 545 am on Tuesday and Thursday. This fit my workout schedule perfectly. 45 minute hardcore spin at a gym on my way to work, followed by a shower and change and I would be at work on time without a problem. With solid cardio already accomplished!At the time I had been trying to get a solid morning routine going, and once I found these bedrock tuesday/thursday spin classes everything consolidated around it. I enjoyed the routine of being there those 2 days so much, I started to show up at the gym the other 3 days of the week as well. I hit the elliptical for some fearsome interval styled “almost runnning” workouts each of those days. Every evening of the week, I packed my stuff for the weary morning wakeup. Every 5 am, the alarm buzzed off, and every weekday I was at the gym for my morning cardio. What a great feeling it is to get that cardio buzz in before you even get your day started. For the record  I still love it. I still revel that feeling.  Back then the weight started to fall off as soon as I started spinning, tone started to develop, and on the weekends- I started to do something really weird called “running”. It all started with the spin. It has remained with the spin. When the elliptical workouts switched to hardcore treadmill workouts, the tuesday/thursday spins stuck. They still are that perfect counterpoint to running and a terrific low impact workout. Even now, when the treadmill workouts have been abadanoned, for outdoor morning runs of various types on MWF, I still am excited to head out for my morning (Tues/Thurs) spin.

Their advertisements around the gym are hilariously overdone, but these classes are a guaranteed good workout, especially with top notch instructors

I spin at lot of other times as well. Its an activity I enjoy 4 sometimes 5 rides a week. A class packed with energy and music every time. A guaranteed workout also.. Resistance training-check, Muscle training-check, cardio intensity-check. Every single time.  Despite being a frequent spinner,  the AM class is still my favorite though. One instructor teaches on Tuesday and a different one on Thursday. They are both great. If I disliked how they ran classes, I probably would go irregularly or not at all. But I like the personality and the connection they make in both cases, so I am a constant attendee. The tuesday teacher packs an infectious energy which no human being should have that early in the morning. She finds a different angle for every workout, and is the right combination of “go get it” motivator and regular human being. The Thursday teacher is different. She focuses on form, creates little games with the classes, and remembers peoples personal stories.It is exceptionally hard to teach anything. I know that from personal experience. To do it well that early and with energy that early in the morning is noteworthy. Both of them nail it every time

Every 5 am weekday, I get up to workout, Tues/Thurs spin helped me get in this routine

My gym membership is one of those few expenses that I allow myself as a luxury. I could probably find a cheaper gym, but Im unwilling to give up my 545 am spin as long as I live where I do. I love those classes that much.  When I go to run on the days following, I know that I am just as strong because I cross trained really hard and really well prior. Over the summer, when I dont work, I still get up early to take those classes (and then head right back to bed of course). They are a core part of my running training, one of the reasons my fitness remains so high, and are an excellent experience each time. They keep me running strong for sure. They keep me running cheap by being worth every penny of my membership. Giving me that extra piece of cross training so that I dont go out and overspend on this program or that, this trend or that. I pay for it for sure, but it is worth it.

I have logged many a valuable training hour on one of these. Happily

Without that spinning to get me started and get that initial weight of, I doubt I every would have become a distance/endurance athlete. I doubt I would have been able to cross that threshold from being that guy who just wants to slim down and whose weight fluctuates, to that being that “healthy guy”. From being a guy looking for aerobics to being a runner. So on that note, a huge weekend runcheap thank you to early AM spin classes! See you there on Tuesday and then again on Thursday!  Thank you Krystal and Julie!

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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