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25 August 2009 @ 11:33 pm
More like LOLWUT Fitness  
Ten years ago, I joined Body Works Health and Fitness all fired up to lift weights. I got stuck under a too-heavy bench press. I tried to squat the bare bar and fell over on my butt. But I learned. I squatted and deadlifted and cleaned. I worked up to unassisted chin-ups and dips. When my upper body got all out of whack a few years ago, I rehabbed it back into business. Effective, adaptable, and just plain fun, free weight training became an indispensable part of my lifestyle.

Body Works got bought by LionHeart Fitness sometime last year, and was I psyched. 24-hour access! Affiliation with a mixed martial arts organization, meaning that the gym would continue to cater to serious weight lifters! Awesome new power racks to replace the rusty ones that resisted adjustment and squealed in protest the whole way! And even a set of gymnastics rings!

A couple of months ago, the management changed. The previous owner left us all with an email expressing excitement about their intended direction for the gym. Though we were never surveyed nor informed about upcoming equipment changes, I remained optimistic when some of the weights were shuffled around and the former weight room was filled with rows of cardio machines. I was disappointed to see the once-expansive free weight selection reduced to a corner of the main room, but I figured I could deal. At least I still had places to chin, dip, squat, and deadlift. I didn't understand why the gym prioritized a ladies-only cardio room over a second power rack, but I also figured that said rack wouldn't get much use at the late hours when I tended to go. The membership price had dropped, so perhaps I was getting what I paid for.

But I was concerned that management bought fifty-odd new cardio machines, which retail for at least $3000 a pop, and left the free weight area with the same rusty, torn benches from last decade. I asked about a possible upgrade to the benches and was informed that the free weights will be phased out entirely.

Yes. All of them. Even my beloved power rack.

Oh, they're putting resistance training equipment back in - some sort of multi-purpose pulley gizmo that's all the rage on the West Coast. That's nice and all, but it's no substitute for a barbell hoisted on your back, heaved above your head, or hauled off the floor. I don't understand how the management of a fitness center could lose sight of that. If LionHeart is the most comprehensive health club in State College, as proudly proclaimed on their website, shouldn't they have something for everyone? Even us grunting, sweating, clanking meatheads?

There are other places to lift around here. If LionHeart management crashes the failboat into No Weights Land, I'll find one of them. I sent them some email in hopes of turning things around.

I am an avid weight lifter and a ten-year client of the health club currently known as LionHeart Fitness. I remained optimistic when the club reduced its free weight selection. Recently I was made aware that management intends to remove free weights altogether. If this drastic change is made, I will be working out elsewhere.

Though I understand the need for reorganization to fit the targeted clientele, I feel that the rug was pulled out from underneath me. When LionHeart originally took over Body Works, members had the opportunity to provide input on preferred equipment. This latest management change offered no such courtesy. Furthermore, no notice was given of the intent to phase out free weights. I only learned of this when asking whether there were any plans to upgrade the rusty weight benches. If I had known that my primary reason for joining a gym would be going the way of the dodo, I would never have renewed my contract.

Functional fitness stations might be all the rage on the West Coast, but free weights are classic. For those of us who love the iron, there is no substitute. Can't they both have a place at LionHeart?
Current Mood: pissed offpissed off
Current Music: Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills
MidnightRanter: snarkmidnightranter on August 26th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
Behold, the tyranny of progress. It's better for you in some way, but it won;t get explained to you. You might have loved the old thing but the new thing is BETTER and liking the old thing is STUPID. This happens to me a lot all the time.
The Heavy Metal Matador: Frylockrydain on August 28th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)
I need to do a follow-up entry on the subject, but that's basically the response I got. I'll probably recycle most of this comment into it. Right now, it's a convenient venue for venting and commiseration.

Long story short, they're replacing the power cage with this magical safety cage called a Star Trac Max Rack. It mimics traditional lifts to a certain extent but doesn't allow the bar to move freely. Apparently this is the Future of Fitness, providing the same benefits of free weights with increased safety.

Bull. Shit.

It won't feel the same, and it won't be as good as a real free weight lift because it does some of the work for me. You're not going to see powerlifters or Olympic lifters training their competition lifts in one of these. The increased safety line is crap, too, because guess what can cause injuries? Repeated motions that constrain your body to some unnatural configuration, which is what you may get with anything that forces you to push a weight along a predetermined track. Bona fide free weights avoid that whole issue.

This gizmo would be fine as a replacement for the Smith machine - a similar, less versatile piece of equipment. But it's not a power cage, and it sure as hell is not an improvement over one. Part of looking toward the future is not fixing what ain't broke in the first place. I don't understand why that's such a difficult concept.