So Kate and I have been looking for a gym that we can go to in our copious spare time. We’ve been evaluating two of them:
- West Chester ACAC (“Ay-See-Ay-See?” “Ack-Ack?”) Ten minutes away by car, colossal facility, includes family changing rooms for the pool, a magical centrifugal bathing-suit dryer, and a Starbucks inside the facility. Before we visited, I was envisioning banks of treadmills arranged next to cunning artifical brooks, with carefully-tended rubber trees all around and massage cabanas hidden amongst the palm trees, all under a high-arched air-conditioned roof. To my complete amazement, I WAS EXACTLY RIGHT. Oddly, there were not as many SUVs with “Bush 2004” stickers in the parking lot as we were expecting. The ACAC just opened a forty thousand foot facility just for childcare, with a separate entrance.
- Mitch’s Market Street Gym, also in West Chester. Ten minutes away, but on foot — it’s just around the corner. Mitch’s is a local gym inside an old laundry facility, with cool skylights, big windows, and an old, scarred, but polished hardwood floor. No pool. Fewer treadmills, no cunning mountain streams, no cafe, and child care consists of a big room packed to the rafters with battle-scarred Fisher-Price toys.
Now, usually at least a part of the decision is made on whether or not the club is intimidating, and believe me I hate to give up any chance to work the “scrappy band of misfits” angle, but both gyms seemed friendly and unintimidating, full of regular people doing regular workouts. (I used to belong to the New York Sports Club in Soho, but even there the population was only about 40% cyborg. Maybe it’s an east-coast thing.) Also, the personal trainers seemed about the same in both places (West Chester University has a really good phys-ed program. That and early childhood education, so it’s a good place to live if you want babysitters and someone to spot your reverse curls, or whatever.)
So in the end we chose Mitch’s because it’s closer and it feels more local. Plus, running to the gym with a jog-stroller seems a little more Rocky, and driving to the gym with the air-conditioner on seems a little more Ivan Drago. On Saturday, Lydia spent her first twenty minutes ever in a multi-child childcare environment happily banging away on an old Fisher-Price cobbler’s bench, and I spent the same twenty minutes upstairs remembering that a ten-minute pace is not my baseline speed any more. Gasp, gasp, gasp.