Sunday, May 3, 2009

Parks and Recreation

I've been going through a real dilemma recently over deciding which gym to belong to.  For the past 6 or 7 years I have belonged to Bally Total Fitness and have been paying a ridiculously cheap rate of $20 a month.  This gives me access to all Bally facilities in the area.  The only problem is that ever since we moved to Springfield, the closest Ballys has been 15-20 minutes away.  We used to live in Alexandria in the Landmark area and were within walking distance from the Landmark Ballys.  I have been trekking out to Landmark every weekend ever since the Springfield Mall Ballys closed down (a few years ago).  

I've been noticing that more and more of my co-workers are joining the Sport and Health that is right down the street from my Mclean, VA office.  I had used a three-day pass recently to check out the facilities (and play some squash).  While the facilities were great, the price didn't seem worth it ($30 for only the Mclean location).  I could pay $45 under my corporate rate to be able to go to any Sport and Health in the area but unfortunately the closest to my house is 15-20 minutes away.  

Finally Lori suggested I try the Rec Center at South Run (where I take Alex to swim class).  South Run is literally 4 minutes from our house and I could actually run/walk there if I was brave enough.  The yearly rate at South Run is $50 a month so I was thinking that would just be too much to justify moving from my cushy $20 a month.  Starting May 1st though, Fairfax County Parks started running a special rate of $43 a month if you pay for a full year.  I went yesterday on a trial one-day pass to check out the facilities.

It turns out that the new gym at South Run is much better than my Landmark Ballys location and on-par with Sport and Health.  They have new equipment, MANY more cable channels on the cardio machines than Ballys did (this IS very important to me), and access to all rec center facilities including basketball, swimming, sauna, etc...  They also incorporate a FitLinxx training system that is hooked into all the weight machines.  Apparently you can track your workout progress by inputting your pin number at each machine and even look at your workout stats online.  This instantly appealed to the geek in me.

Combining the great facilities at South Run with access to all other 8 Rec Centers in the area (including one that's not too far from Mclean), I was sold on the special rate and signed up last night online.  By having a gym much closer to my house I will definitely increase my gym-visit frequency and hopefully get in better shape.  I do miss out on being able to play basketball and squash with my co-workers but I think the benefits of the Fairfax County Rec Centers win out in the end. I put together a quick Google Map that illustrates my geographical gym situation below (click on the icons for more info).

View Gym Locations in a larger map
UPDATE:  I just realized there is a Rec Center in Mclean (shown with green push-pin above)!!!  Sweet.

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