I’ve been very happy with the Rochester Athletic Club since I rejoined a few years ago. So I was extremely disappointed to hear the announcement last month that all the coed RAC/BAC clubs were sold to LA Fitness, which had recently infiltrated the western New York region.
The changeover happened pretty quickly after the announcement and things were a bit chaotic at the BAC Eastern Hills club, where I work out when I’m in Buffalo. Through the grapevine and from reading Scott Scanlon’s Buffalo News Refresh blog, I’m finding that things haven’t gone as smoothly as was promised in the announcement.
Luckily, I’m an RAC Womens club member, so I can stick with the RAC or elect to switch to LA Fitness or some other club. When I’m at home in Rochester, I usually frequent the Greece women’s club, which has a full schedule of classes with many options for spinning. I’m very happy with the club and their weight equipment, which is better geared for women due to the size and smaller weight increments.
I decided I would be open minded and evaluate LA Fitness since the opportunity was there. I’ve since visited three of the LA Fitness clubs (Henrietta, Greece, Clarence) and found them to be fairly consistent. LA Fitness has given BAC/RAC Womens members the opportunity to try the club for free until the end of this month.
- Lots of equipment: cardio, free weights and Nautilus-type. I can’t imagine the club being so crowded that you can’t get on an Elliptical but you may have to wait if you want to use a specific people of Nautilus.
- All the cardio equipment has individual TVs attached
- All the clubs have small pools and hot tubs, at least one of them has racquetball courts and they all have basketball courts (overall reminding me of a YMCA without the kids). They also offer water fitness class. One of the clubs has a stadium setup for the spin class which would make for good visibility.
- Roomy and nice looking locker rooms with wooden lockers
- Plenty of parking. Some of the BAC/RAC clubs have limited parking.
- There are a lot of clubs to choose from in western NY, whereas the BAC/RAC options have now been drastically cut.
- LA Fitness has many other locations outside of western NY.
- I found all the gyms to be overly warm, especially since the cardio equipment is located on the 2nd floor in two of the clubs, closer to where the heat comes out.
- The locker room has double level lockers, but even at 5’6″ I had a hard time reaching the hook in the upper lockers. These lockers seem sized for men.
- The LA Fitness clubs don’t open until 8am on the weekends which I think is late. Classes don’t start until 9:15. For those of us who like to get up early and get our workout in, that’s not going to happen. I’m not sure if the timing changes in the warmer months.
- I found much of the Nautilus type equipment to be sized for taller people. Even with adjustments, the equipment did not fit me well.
- Limited classes. This is one of the BAC/RAC’s strengths. Looking at one LA Fitness class schedules I see spin class offered at 5:45am and 5:45pm on Mondays…that’s it. Other days have only one spin class per day.
- All of the RAC/BAC clubs have towel/spray stations scattered throughout the club so members have no excuse for not cleaning up after themselves. LA Fitness has a few locations with paper towels dispensers and some kind of cleaner. I don’t find that to be an environmentally friendly option or a practical one. While working out in the LA Fitness facilities I only saw one person clean up after themselves. (I bring my own small towel with me.)
Like Scott, I observed the LA Fitness clubs seem to have a younger membership and definitely tilt towards higher male participants. Since I had recently pre-paid for a two year renewal of my RAC membership (to get a 10% discount), I knew LA Fitness would really need to make a good impression in order to convince me to switch.
Luckily for me, the decision is easy. I’ll be sticking with my current membership. What do you think of the LA Fitness clubs?