What a Difference Five Years Makes


Bachelorette Party - 2005

Five years ago I was 30 pounds heavier, and belonged to a local big-box gym called the Princeton Club.  I was a part-time college student, worked erratic hours at a restaurant, and went to the gym when I could.  I ate poorly and drank most nights of the week.  Gross.

Not only was I gross, but the Princeton Club turned out to be pretty nasty too.  I hated the staff and the equipment was shotty.  I once had a treadmill just stop on me while I was running on it.  I was so pissed I stormed up to the front desk and yelled at the poor lady behind the desk.  She said, “Oh yea, we know, that treadmill sometimes stops, just hit restart”.

Omg, no way, did she really just say that?  How about sorry, how about are you ok, how about put a sign on the malfunctioning treadmill?  Needless to say, when my two year contract was up, I did not renew.

After that I joined a small 24 hour convenience gym the size of a garage.  I quit last spring when I was running like crazy because I thought I didn’t need it anymore.  Well, that was my first mistake leading to injury, because there went my strength training.

In January this year I joined a different big-box gym called Prairie Athletic.  When I joined it was solely for the purpose of the pool.  It was a 20 minute drive, the equipment was nicer, the group fitness classes were not included, and I didn’t analyze the pool schedule well enough before joining that gym.  After a few months of pool schedule frustrations I decided I needed to revisit the Princeton Club.

I walked into the Princeton Club last week and this “whoa!” feeling washed over me.  Whoa! because I was sloppy with my fitness back then, today fitness is a top priority.  It just made me realize how much I’ve improved my quality of life in just five years.  Not only did I improve, but the Princeton Club improved too.  All new equipment, friendly staff, group fitness classes included, and the pool is open 24 hours.  TWENTY-FOUR hours!!!  I can go swimming at 2:00 AM if I want—I won’t, but the option is there.

I think rejoining the Princeton Club was one of my better ideas this year just because of the realization that I had walking through that door.  Next time I’m having a bad-knee day I need to remember how far I’ve come.  From borderline alcoholic to athletic.

Athlete > Alcoholic.


15 thoughts on “What a Difference Five Years Makes

  1. I had a very similar experience, recently. Every gym had SOMETHING lacking when I wasn’t serious…now that I’m serious about getting healthier (and drinking less) the “so-so” gyms were a lot more appealing. My 24-hour gym/pool has a 24-hour hot tub, too. Score.

  2. I hate all those big-box gyms (I belong to one) but unfortunately the smaller (better) mom & pop types have funky hours. There’s a pretty serious gym with professional weight and body builders but the hours don’t work with my schedule AND they don’t have a pool. It’s hard to justify not going to those big-name gyms when they make it so convenient.

  3. I’m glad I’ve invested in building a home gym over the years. I don’t have the latest or the fanciest equipment (or a pool!), but it gets the job done. I do like the allure of the bright lights and new equipment of a fancy gym, but I can’t see spending more time and money to worry about getting the machine/class I want at the time I need. I do enjoy nice hotel gyms when I get the chance.

    • My spare bedroom is pretty much a home gym, it has a spinner, a treadmill, 2 swiss balls, yoga mat, and a bunch of free weights. I do find I get more done at the gym though, sort of like studying at the library.

  4. Yeah Princeton Club! I joined 24 hour fitness about a year ago so I could use the pool. In my location it’s very small and used by 65 year olds with bladder problems. Ick! So still searching… For that perfect place.

  5. I belong to a big box gym and I actually really like it. I can go to any gym in my area (there are 3 different ones on my way home). I can swim/ workout at any hour I want to, and there are tons of classes to choose from with different teachers to choose from.

  6. Hey. I am 21 year old performance enthusiast who loves running. You blog keeps me motivated. This post really helped too :).

    I want to ask if you have a special playlist. I am going to start regular running this weekend onwards and I am trying to make a 60-min long playlist.

    • Thanks so much!
      I just load my ipod with my favorite pop music and put it on shuffle. My favorites are Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, P!nk, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, Avril Lavigne, Kylie Minogue.
      Just load your playlist with songs that YOU like, enjoy your run!

  7. Trading 1 addiction for another 🙂 Hopefully this one keeps us in smaller pants though !! You know, I do the bulk of my strength traiing in the off season, but have medicine balls, kettle bells, a swiss ball around the house to do some basic work during season. It just gets to 3-4 hours if I try to get it all in…careful not stress too much about it…some basics will go a long way and remember the pool will be GREAT resistance work !!

  8. sounds like you’ve come full circle! 🙂 i’ve never heard of a gym that doesn’t include fitness classes in its membership?! crazy! but a 24 hr pool is the best – that’s the main reason why i joined my gym. i can get there before 6 am before all the old ladies who swim in shower caps show up.

  9. I am so lucky to have my run club that offers spin and cross training. I was able to give my my $$ gym membership that was constantly getitng my account messed up. Awesome to see your progress!

  10. Athlete always trumps alcoholic! Glad you re-found a gym that works for you. A few years ago I bit the bullet and joined a gym that is super-nice, posh, and literally 3 times the amount of dues that I was paying at my old gym. Why? This gym is 1/2 mile from my house. The other, much cheaper gym was several freeway exits away. I never went. Now I go ALL. THE. TIME. It’s good to have a nice gym!!

    • That’s exactly the switch I made, I was driving 20 minutes OUT of Madison to go to a different gym because of the poor experience I had at Princeton 5 years ago. Princeton is only 10 minutes away!

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