Three Things I Miss About Big Box Gyms


big box gyms

I have a confession to make: there are things I miss about belonging to a big box gym. To be clear, there are many more things I do not miss, but this week I realized I was accumulating a tiny list in the back of my mind of things that would make my fitness life so much easier…and then realized that those things were all perks associated with having a gym membership. I stopped cold in my tracks. Could it be? Could I actually be pining after monthly membership fees, decks of TVs turned to channels I don’t want to watch, and that adductor machine everyone hates? Not exactly. But let me explain.

1. Workout On My Own Schedule

You know those weeks when your schedule hurls itself out the window and nothing you had planned works out? Yeah, this was one of those weeks. Which meant that every fit crash I had on my agenda had to be cancelled at the last minute. As in, sometimes calling from the car stuck in traffic last minute. Sorry barre method. Sorry boot camp. Sorry run with friend after work. It just didn’t happen. And half-way through the week, I thought, wouldn’t it be lovely to workout on MY schedule. Even if it’s erratic and temperamental right now. Even if that means I don’t get around to it till 9:25 p.m. The truth is that there are one too many factors that can derail plans to get to the studio in time for a class. Life happens. The metro is delayed (shocker). Traffic accidents. Last minute 5 p.m. meetings with the boss as you’re walking out the door. No parking after circling the block 10 times. Needing to do laundry and get groceries instead. Bottom line: working out on somebody else’s schedule isn’t always easy.

2. Showers

Thanks to Drop In, I had an opportunity to workout for free at BodySmith in Logan Circle a few weekends ago. It was the first time I had been at a “big box gym” in ages. Because of ice and snow, my plan was to do a long run on the treadmill, scoot around to check out the weight options, and then meet friends for dinner after. Which I could do without being a sweaty mess because BodySmith has showers. Ah-ha! What a convenience! I am so used to running out of studios in my workout duds, hair all sweaty, clothes icky and damp. Cleaning up after class with fresh towel service and a fully stocked shower felt down right luxurious. I could seamlessly go about my day without the time-suck of going home, showering, and then heading back out to wherever I was going. I know there are a few boutique studios in DC with showers, but the majority do not have them. I understand why: they take up space, require cleaning, and are an added expense. But showers are a little time-saving perk that I sometimes really miss.

3. Options

DC’s boutique fitness scene is about as varied as they come. You want options? We’ve got options. But there are days when I just want to do my own thing and need the right equipment. Thirty minutes of running followed by weighted squats and pull ups. Or a HIIT workout with medicine balls and kettle bells. Or intervals on the stationary bike, treadmill, and rower with a few dumbbell reps thrown in for good measure. While I have a few pieces of key equipment in my apartment, it’s not a gym by any means. There’s also the issue of not being able to jump around without my downstairs neighbor wanting to kill me. So okay, I admit it, sometimes I do miss having access to a gym with all the fun toys.

I don’t have plans to join a gym any time soon. Nine times out of ten, I love bouncing around town to explore the smaller nooks and crannies of DC’s fitness scene. But there are those days – like this week – when boutique fitness just isn’t convenient. And as the blogger who has often put her hands up and backed away from the idea of big box fitness, I felt the need to come clean. So there you have it folks, the post I never thought I’d write.

Have a great weekend!


Which option do you think has the most perks: big gyms or boutique studios?


2 Comments on Three Things I Miss About Big Box Gyms

  1. Hillary
    March 14, 2014 at 11:39 am (7 months ago)

    I love this post! This is one of the big reasons why having a gym in my apt building was key for me. I don’t have to pay for a big box gym membership so I can afford to go to the studios I love, but there’s always plenty of equipment right downstairs when I need it.

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  2. Alicia Sokol
    March 18, 2014 at 2:50 pm (7 months ago)

    You hit the nail on the head, Meaghan. I quit my big box gym membership a year ago and this winter, I’ve lamented that decision when I’ve had a run on the calendar only to see snow, ice and freezing temps outside. I’m still a fan of the boutique fitness studio (and the one at which I teach has a super clean shower and changing area, thankfully!) but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t think twice every now and then.

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