I had the recent pleasure of visiting the great state of Washington. I traveled there with my mother to visit my brother who I hadn’t seen in eight years. He had been living in Japan for his job with Microsoft. He returned to the US with a beautiful Japanese wife and daughter whom I feel blessed to call family. While visiting, I decided to check out one of the “mega-gyms” that exists in my brother’s neighborhood in the community of Bellevue WA. This gym was not a Lifetime, LA or Anytime Fitness, instead it resembled a local YMCA or Center-type atmosphere. We were in Microsoft country and this particular gym was home to many of these employees and their families. In fact, upon speaking with my brother I found out that Microsoft pays the full cost for their employees to exercise at this gym.
Upon entrance to the “mega-gym”, I was immediately annoyed (okay jealous) of the gift shop and café/ bistro areas of the lobby. They were selling gym attire and greeting cards as well as whipping up protein shakes and coffee. Nice touch. As I entered the gym area, there was a nice-sized pool…well, okay a FEW nice-sized pools. It seemed they had a different pool for each aged category of children in swim classes as well as one for the adult water class and a lap pool for the real serious swimmers. Once outside the pool area, I sat down on a bench in the hallway and just observed. There were lots of groups of kids of all ages in summer school classes as well as lots of identically dressed unenthusiastic staff members. I left my spy post and walked into a giant cardio room which had rows and rows of equipment. It would be hard to guess but maybe repeating rows of 40 ellipticals and 40 treadmills as well as some stationary bikes. It was gigantic but strange as there were only a couple people working out in there (it was around 10am).
I walked through the cardio room and stumbled upon something I have never, ever seen before…it was another cardio room just like the one I had just visited however this one was completely dark except for the big screen TVs that were blazing entertainment. I thought perhaps there was a problem with the lights or the morning person just forgot to turn the switches on but soon learned this was called a “Cardio Theater” and completely normal to be dark. I was sort of fascinated by this…I guess too much salt the night before with a little water retention the next morning or growing fangs might just make me want to workout in a room like that. As fascinated as I was, it just seemed a little weird to have a Cardio Theater in an area of the country that doesn’t see much sunlight anyway. I kept walking through the darkness and arrived in another room in which there were a couple of personal trainers conducting sessions with clients as well as a weight room with stationary equipment and free weights.
There was no real active coaching, cheering or talking going on in this room. In fact, it took lots of restraint for me to walk past a client who was swinging a kettlebell with terrible form as his trainer was standing right next to him not particularly engaged. I checked out the group exercise class schedule and other offerings of the gym. They had lots of classes at lots of times. I was surprised to see only one class that I had never heard of before on the schedule. Other than that one class, it looked like a pretty standard schedule with variety very similar to TTR. When I arrived back in the lobby, I queried one of the front desk staff for a rate sheet. She responded by telling me “no”, that I would need to sit down and visit with a consultant to get that information. I asked if they had a website, again the answer was “no.” I felt a bit rejected…maybe they were on to my spy status?
If I am totally honest, the mega-gym was nice. It had lots of equipment in lots of different rooms with different classes at different times. The plethora of pools as well as the cafe/bistro were pretty cool. As nice as the space and equipment was, I started to wonder how their clients felt. Did they feel like a number or did they like the anonymity? Did they know any different? A smile came to my face as I thought how those clients would feel if they came to TTR here in Somerset. Would the Cardio Theater clients feel comfortable in an environment “where everybody knows your name” and the name of your brother, sister, wife, mother and first cousin? Would they like to run on a treadmill without a 20 treadmill spread from the next person? I began to sincerely miss my co-workers and clients at TTR. I realized that this mega-gym had nothing on TTR…they just had mega-numbers of everything including clients.
Upon returning from my trip and back through the doors of TTR, I was proud. Proud to work in a facility that values quality over quantity. A place that values each and every client. A place where our clients are friends. We know the names of their kids and pets and what they like to do for fun. Our mission statement directly implicates “every single person” as necessary for our success. Every single person that walks through the doors of our facility matters…the stories, the struggles and the goals all matter. We celebrate the peaks in every fitness journey and strive to push individuals up out of the valleys that affect us all. TTR may only have five treadmills, five ellipticals and a pool with a max capacity of 8 but we have mega heart when it comes to fitness and the success of our clients. I feel blessed to journey alongside others who strive for the best life has to offer. I am happy to be back from vacation…there’s no place like home!