Sweat and Solace: I joined LifeTime Fitness

lifetime.jpg When it comes to my exercisings, I fall consistently into the “in the privacy of my own home” kind of guy. True, I go for walks and sometimes runs around the lake near my home, but it’s different psychologically. When it comes to lifting, stretching, and straining, I like to keep that under wraps. So it stands to reason, that the prospect of joining a gym would be a ways down the list of options when it came to exercise. But join a gym I did. Earlier this month, Erin and I joined LifeTime Fitness. And it’s one of the best things that I’ve ever done.

I was hesitant to join a gym because I’m an easily intimidated guy. I’ve seen gyms on TV. I’ve been to a gym on the U of M campus. I’ve seen the rows upon rows of big chrome and white machines, the treadmills and ellipticals. I’ve seen the fit people in tight workout clothes walking around with towels and water bottles. But what I never saw was myself walking amongst them.

It just seemed like one of those big shiny, bright places that I never really belonged in. The thought of paying a lot of money and then just being told, “Okay, go to it,” without any guidance or handholding (that didn’t cost a ton of money)…that thought just didn’t appeal to me at all. But something changed my mind:

*Two hours of childcare every day for $5.00 a month per kid. *

This is what Erin said to me after my first full week of full-time solo parenting. And I said, “ I’m in. I’m frickin’ in, dude.” (She likes it when I call her “dude”.) So we took a tour of the Eagan facility, further proof that all roads in my life lead to Eagan. But that’s a story for another day.

What really sold me

This club is a big place. Basketball and racquetball courts, pools, saunas and hot tubs, weights, weight machines, treadmills, classes, and more. Tons of stuff. Intimidating. I don’t know how to use any of it. But what really sold me on joining up, what convinced me that I’d not just have my money taken and left to fend for myself, was this:

I’d get a fitness assessment and a chance to talk to more or less an expert (I can’t confirm this) about what I wanted to achieve. Then based on this information, I’d get an exercise regimen with specific goals and targets. What’s more, I’d get a free handholding session that walked through the exercises and equipment I’d be using. I would know where to go, what to do, and how to do it. That cleared up about 80% of my anxiety about the whole experience.

What really, truly sold me

As I said, for $5 a head, LifeTime provides what amounts to 2 hours of babysitting per day, every day of the week. This is simply awesome.

The Childcare Center is staffed by regular employees who are First-Aid and CPR certified. Many of them are parents themselves, and others are instructors. The woman who teaches Thessaly’s swimming lessons also puts in time in the Childcare Center, which is kind of cool. They watch kids from 3 months to 12 years.

There are lots of toys and games, computer games, a playground outside, and a bouncy gym for bouncing in. For the babies, they have a sectioned off area that has exer-saucers, swingy-chairs, and other baby-holding devices, as well as a person dedicated to just the young ones.

And they have a pretty rigid security set up, so the likelihood of anyone walking off with your kid is remote, asking for ID and having secure entrances and exits to and from the play area.

I’m very happy with what I’ve seen there. Thessaly has lots of fun when she’s there, and Torbin usually gets in a good nap. And, I get up to two hours to exercise, get the kids out of the house and interacting with other kids, and, most importantly, I get some time to myself.

What’s not so good

What’s the downside, you ask? I’ll come right out and say it: The brash nudity of jiggly men in the locker room.

Locker rooms are for changing and showering, two activities that require nudity. That’s a given. But there’s no call for fully nude deodorant application. No call for fully nude bench sitting. There’s no call for fully nude haircombing that’s done while leaning one’s dangly bits against the marble sinks. I’m sorry. Call me a prude, call me repressed, but there just isn’t any call for that. No bending down without towels. No hanging out and bullshitting for tens of minutes with nothing on. No use of the scale without covering your shame.

Ladies, you may not have the same problem, but I think you experience a version of it.

Also, there was some variation in the quality of the initial training session between the guy that I had and the guy that Erin had, but all in all that was pretty minor.

LifeTime is a big win for parents

Get fit and get a break from your kids, that’s what it comes down to. We pay about $120 a month for a couples’ membership and two kids. That’s very reasonable for what you get. If you don’t have kids, I’m not sure if it works out as well, but if you don’t like spending money on something you don’t use, this might be just the motivator you need to get some sorely needed exercise.


LifeTime Fitness