A couple weeks ago, the YMCA of Pittsburgh announced it would close three branches. One (West Hills) due to the fact that the needed repairs from recent flooding would be more than the building was worth, made sense, especially since it was too dangerous to be in the building.
The other two are the primary and back-up locations that I go to. What surprised me the most, was the number of people who are members. In the letter they sent out to members, they listed over 1,100 members at my branch. For how small of a building it is, shocked me, actually. Although based on the parking lots, maybe it is pretty accurate.
I started going to the gym when I worked in the Hill District, stopping at the Y in the Steel Tower before walking up the hill to work. After that, I transferred to Penn Hills and then finally to Wilmerding. All in all, aside from a few bumps along the way, it’s been a great organization and I’m sorry to see it go away. The impact that the areas will feel will hurt, Penn Hills especially I think. Penn Hills (and to some extent Wilmerding) served as a community center, and losing that space will be tough.
But this has sent me on a mission to find a new gym. There are a couple gyms close by that are mostly personal trainer based, which for some people, is what they need. I mainly need a gym so I can utilize a treadmill when it’s too hot or icy to be outside, do some stretching and do bodyweight work away from home if I want a change of pace.
I checked out Planet Fitness, and it was decent. I was impressed by their one bodyweight area as well as their extra amenities. They have a ‘red light therapy’ machine, that while most people call complete bullshit on the ‘melting fat’ claims, seems to be a nice pick-me-up in the dead of winter. Like other PF locations, they do pizza nights and have a huge bowl of Tootsie Rolls out, both of which have dairy, so it’s a no-go for me anyway.
I also checked out Crunch. While the hours aren’t like PF’s (since they’re 24 hours), it’s still more than what I had access to at the Y. The gym itself was a lot bigger than I imagined, and had a huge array of options, including multiple TRX’s and some other stuff I could use for bodyweight stuff, which is exciting. Plus, their treadmills were a lot better quality and will be more useful for me (especially since the school with the track I use is up for sale). Crunch has a big emphasis on group classes, which aren’t really my thing, but I guess it’s nice to know they’re there if I want to upgrade my membership.
Sadly, both places really push the tanning beds. Which, no thank you, I don’t want skin cancer today. They also both offer hydromassage, which seems unsanitary at best, again, not something which is swaying me, but both offer it. Must be the latest trends.
In the end, I’m going to try out Crunch and see how it goes, it’s a little more inconvenient, but with traffic will only be about five minutes, so nothing to really think about. The staffs at both locations were very patient and helpful with my myriad of questions, and both locations mentioned they were getting quite a few of the Y’s members, so I’m sure I’ll see some familiar faces. PF may have been closer to Wilmerding (and there’s a PF near the Penn Hills Y, so I’m sure they’ll be very busy now), Crunch seemed a bit less of the totally casual crowd. While I have weird needs of a gym and am not looking to be a bodybuilder, I also don’t want to deal with the ‘showing up to a gym to use the tanning bed’ crowd.
I’ve been a member of the Y for almost a decade, and while we were given the option to try out other locations, Plum is really inconvenient for me (and looks intimidatingly large). I might still check it out, since I’ll have three free months, might as well do a tour!
I’m starting my next running training plan next week, so as much as this has been sad and a hassle, it’s good to have it wrapped up.