Friday, April 24, 2009

Spinning at LA Fitness in Ballard

Ballard LA Fitness Sping Cycles

As part of our proactive fitness quest this spring Travelmarx has joined LA Fitness in Ballard at 1416 NW Ballard Way. Yes we know, it’s the happening club this side of the ship canal and like lemmings we jumped on board.

One of the things we’ve been taking advantage of is spin class (called cycle zone) at 5:45am weekday mornings. First, getting up at 5:00am to get to the class is not as bad as it sounds provided you go to bed early and keeping in mind what a friend who told us: "deliver the body". Second, after the class you feel really good. The rest of the day is a breeze. The 50+ minutes of instructor-led “riding” generates a lot of sweat and huffing and puffing.

The bikes used are Keiser M3 bikes and they are very nice to spin on. You can spin with the same shoes that you use to work out in or you can use cycling shoes (the pedals of the bikes are SPD – or Shimano Pedaling Dynamics - compatible). The instructors so far for the spin classes (we’ve had four different ones) have been great.

Ballard LA Fitness Spin Rom

Overall impressions of the Ballard / LA Fitness? The club facilities are good but there are a number of opportunities for improvement:

- The management is, well to be kind, a bit lacking. Basically, it seems kids are running the shop and that would be kids with not much experience in customer service. It doesn’t help that all decisions seem to have to come from corporate headquarters. Recently, a sign at the front desk informed members in day-glo magic marker colors that the club was out of Q-Tips and Kleenex and was waiting for a shipment. Now Q-Tips and Kleenex aren’t that critical, but why not just run to Fred Meyer around the corner and buy some as a stop gap measure? Suggestion: hire some seasoned staff.

- Joining and figuring out what rate you are going to pay varies by the day if not hour. I got one rate on a Saturday when I joined. Then, I got called Sunday to inform me there was a mistake and that my initiation fee and monthly rate would be something different – I okayed it. But, nothing got changed and I’m still at the first rate. Friends all have different plans and rates – it seems. Suggestion: simplify the membership process and make it less variable.

- The men’s locker room shower flower is always wet. No mats or anything to keep your feet out of the standing water. Suggestion: put mats down.

- There are not enough clocks on the walls. Suggestion: put some more clocks on the wall. [July 2009 - they have added more clocks. It took a while for them to read the correct time, but they are there. Thanks.]

- The placement of hand towel bins for storage and return are not where you would naturally place them for a club like this. No one thought about the layout. Often they are supplied with larger bath towels when you only want a small hand towel. Suggestion: install a few more hand towel bins, specifically more nearer to where you enter/leave the club by the front desk. [July 2009 - more locations of hand towels have been added. It's better now. Thanks.]

- The spin room doesn’t have good air circulation. Suggestion: install some fans. [July 2009 - it's hit or miss. Sometimes the air conditioner works great and sometimes it doesn't. It's better overall I think.]

- Spray bottles to clean down machines and paper towels are woefully lacking. Suggestion: Place more spray bottles about.

[See comments for more info.]


  1. I’ve been at this gym for 6 months now and can’t stand the headaches that they have given me. LA Fitness has a practice of double billing clients hoping that they won't catch mistakes. They ignore cancellation and continue billing despite numerous attempts at cancellation. This is even with their so-called "cancel at any-time" policy. Their gym looks nice, but the lockers are always broken, the machines, treadmills and swimming pool is always full and their staff is mostly distant and focused on themselves instead of maintaining the gym.

    Class instructors are 50-50. Some are professional, but there are many that have just started and risk injury with their lack of knowledge. Also, the b-ball court is extremely small with no room to move and there are only three lanes of swimming. No wonder much of the local news grimaced at LA Fitness’ huge corporate building taking away Ballard community space in exchange for big business dollars.

    Give it a try if you like, but watch your bank account, have back up documents and a third party overseeing communications along with other legal steps to ensure they don't take full advantage of you like they have most of their clients.

    I like to work out close by, so 'm currently shopping for other options close in the area.:
    - Olympic Athletic Club
    - 24-hour fitness
    - Prorobics
    - Crossfit

  2. ah! just ride your own bike at 5:45, heck you can even stay in bed later since you can leave from the house... then join a YOGA studio. duh. i never understood the need to do cardio indoors. regardless of weather, there's always room to get enough cardio in via running, walking or riding outdoors, and get some strength training in either yoga or pilates. but that's just me. i barely do any cardio lately...and really need to get back to running the dogs or walking very fast more than 1 or 2x /week.

  3. I have been a member of LA FITNESS for quite some time but this applies to any gym.

    I want to ask... what is your gym doing to prevent the spread of the flu.. The LA Fitness I have used for 15 years or so has done nothing different - maybe less. Because the Gym environment is a perfect breeding ground I think they owe their patrons a higher standard. What say YOU?

  4. Wild Dingo: This spin class is working for me. I don’t want to ride the streets at 5:45 am in my neighborhood/city. I ride them enough – see “1000 Miles to Work” – commuting and that’s enough adventure for me.

    Bryan: We’ve had good luck with the instructors we’ve had so far for spin and yoga. But I’ll agree with you on many of your issues (lockers broken, machines full at peak times, etc). It’s a good tip to review billing charges carefully. Thanks. Overall, we’ve be happy with the gym because we’ve gotten in better shape, we work out with friends, and the monthly cost is reasonable.

    On a related note: a friend asked the front desk if there was a suggestion box and there wasn’t so the friend said “my first suggestion is that you get a suggestion box”. I still laugh thinking of that. And they recently removed paper towel dispensers (at least by the spin room) because people were using them to wipe TV screens down and apparently scratching them – we were told. The replaced the paper towels with foam dispensers – how these substitute for paper towels I don’t know. To be continued.

    John: I don’t know what the gym is doing specifically to prevent the spread of flu. I would guess they can certainly improve by making spray bottles for disinfecting equipment more readily available. I take the normal precautions while in public: avoid touching my nose, eyes, and mouth. I clean off equipment after use and sometimes before. I don’t usually take a shower, so I avoid the locker room.

  5. Its all a bunch of lies, I bet if there is a problem with the Gym you type a letter, and they will fix it a.s.a.p, I've been with LA Fitness and I love it, no double billing, numerous machines plenty of aerobic hours and rooms the best profesional trainers,and when I go on vacation I freze my acct imediately and resume by just clicking my card...I love LA Fitness

  6. Yes, it is good to voice concern. I agree. The feedback numbers are on the LA Fitness web site. However, to me it seems that some things are obvious enough that they don't require a letter like these: 1) Don't open the club at 8:00am and schedule a class at 8:00am. 2) Make spray bottles for cleaning freely available. In a 5:45am spin class recently there were no bottles of cleaning fluid. When the instructor went upstairs to ask she was told there weren't any. Huh? I see them there every other day. 3) Responding to feedback for clocks (I'm guessing) they installed these huge clocks. The problem was they all read different and wrong times for about 1 month. In spin class we could look at three different clocks by they were all different times. Strange.

    For the record, billing so far as been fine. No problems there. Overall, I like the club and use it often just a few kinks here and there still.

  7. October 2009
    Paper towels and spray bottles (itermittent) are available now. One spin instructor makes some disinfecting wipes available before and after class for our use which is nice. All is know spinners can be a very tempermental lot.


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