One of the benefits of working for Microsoft is a free membership to the Health Club of your choice. Pro Club is a premier health club here in the Redmond/Bellevue area. I was a member of LifeTime Fitness and had been for about four years. I thought I would compare and contrast them here according to things I thought a club should have.
This is what the club looks like from outside, the area in which it is located and basically that which would draw in new members
Pro Club (PC) – Located in a residential area, next door to a complex of condos called "Wimbeldon". Getting to parking is a little confusing at first, but there is ample parking.
LifeTime Fitness (LTF) – Located in a residential area. There are a number of health food stores and athletic leaning stores all around. A lot of glass gives it a nice appearance.
A Draw. They are both good looking clubs and the areas they are in are very upscale.
What you get besides weights and cardio equipment
PC – Over the top. Concierge Desk that handles everything from arranging a floral arrangement to washing your car to doing dry cleaning, etc IN HOUSE. The lockers are very high tech, but you better remember your code and locker number as there is nothing to remind you of either. The Club Shop has apparel (not just athletic wear) and I even purchased batteries there today. The cafeterias (yes PLURAL) are very nice, and the "Adult Only" (not NC-17, it’s that they serve alcohol) restaurant has its own chef. The showers are very clean and provide soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Muzak is playing throughout the lockerroom. The child center is a bonafide Day Care Center. The Spa looks nice; I had a haircut there (she did OK). This place is definitely a CLUB, not just a GYM.
LTF – One cafeteria (with wireless internet access) has more than just food. There are also supplements and other health related consumables. LTF is much more "sports" related as there are big screen TVs EVERYWHERE showing some athletic competition happening somewhere in the world. LTF even sponsors its own triathlon that is televised on ESPN. The showers are even close to being as nice but there is a lounge where you can watch a big screen TV playing ESPN. The music is much more contemporary and usually the audio piped in from some Music Video Network. The spa is an experience. I had the best massage there EVER.
Pro Club is a CLUB/SPA experience. More amenities than you can shake a stick at.
The WHY. To get in shape. What a club offers in the way of athletic events, the personal training, equipment, etc.
PC – The standard sprinkling of cardio equipment done under dimmed lights. Tons of treadmills, didn’t see too many stairmasters or other equipment, but that may be because I hadn’t gone to one of the other four floors, or they might be located in the "Womens’ Gym" (yes, they have their own….isn’t that against the law? I mean, why isn’t there a MEN’S ONLY gym?) The programs are only two days a week and none include a MAP or RMR. They do have squash courts, raquetball courts (separate) and tennis courts. they have five pools. The sheer number of Personal Trainers is boggling. There must be over 100; all with degees in either Physical Education, Kinisieolgy, or the like.
LTF – Much more "down to business". Tons of programs to satisfy the warrior. The BootCamp program is 5-days of "in your face" punishment. TEAM Weight Loss is not only into working your body, but your mind as well as nutrition classes are held every week. They provide MAP and RMR testing as well as hooking you up with a "Dunk Tank" BMI test. Five Pools in addition to having water slides both inside and outside.
LifeTime Fitness is much more for people serious about getting into shape.
Freedom to do what you want, they way you want, when you want
PC – The only downer about Pro Club is the hours of operation. BIG DOWNER. It’s only open from 5am to 10pm. ’nuff said
LTF – 24 hours! I thought that being open 24 hours was the industry standard. I guess not.
LTF by a long shot. I should be able to go work out any time of the day. Especially if I need to get to work EARLY and I don’t get there at "conventional" hours. 5am seems to be OK to open, but a club should definitely be open past 10pm. Maybe 1am or something, but certainly not 10pm.
After looking at the different categories, I think that each club has its advantage WAY over the other. I must say that the membership fee of free for Pro Club is a big plus, but that was Microsoft’s doing. If LTF were here maybe Microsoft would give us a membership there. LTF has yet to open up a club on the West Coast. maybe in the future.