I joined Life Time Fitness at the start of this year. The closest facility is in Vernon Hills, IL, about a 15-minute drive from home. My wife has been a member of LF for about 18 months and her mode of moving her body involves during various swim strokes in their indoor lap pool. LF was quite accommodating late last year to give me several passes to try their club. Because health clubs are out of my comfort zone, the several visits before joining provided a little familiarly with the layout and exercise equipment. Needless to say, this is the first health club I have ever joined.
There are days and times the club is quite busy, however, I have never had an issue finding any aerobic equipment or utilizing different strength training stations. That fact resonates with me. There are sometimes I arrive at the club where the parking lot is 95% full and I silently think this exercise gig may not go well. Yes, many areas of the men’s locker rooms can be congested although when you enter the second floor of the gym that includes aerobic machines and strength training equipment; there are always options to get one’s body moving.
One other thing to mention regarding the busyness of LF, I heard several folks say the health club becomes less crowded as the year progresses. Saying it differently, people are real committed to exercise at the start of the year — determined to stick to their New Year’s resolution and as time progresses, some of them become less committed. From my empirical view, we are a few days from Memorial Day and have not seen much of a drop in attendance since the beginning of the New Year. Maybe most LF members are among the serious fitness folks.
The one challenging area of LF is the men’s locker room. As I mentioned earlier, regardless of the time, you can find anaerobic or aerobic equipment to use even when the club is very busy. Saunas and hot tubs can get busy but there’s always room for a few more. However, the locker room can be quite congested. From the male perspective, you have men and boys coming and going to various parts of the locker room. There’s really no flow to it. I may enter the locker room and choose an area that’s currently not busy. However, after the hot tub/sauna and shower, I may find myself fighting for space to “towel off” and get dressed. As I experience these “bottlenecks,” I’ve yet to develop a plausible solution although if members are given lockers in segments of ’10’ starting at the beginning of the locker room, it would be curious how the flow may change. Just a thought and it would be helpful if LF is considering this issue too.
One more comment about the locker room. They are designed in such a way without a handle so closing them can be a challenge. With a conscientious thought, one can hold the side of the locker when closing. Unfortunately, only about 1 or 2 in 10 are conscientious when closing. If you’re not, it can create a loud bang. Not a big issue although this sudden noise creates a thought in my mind on why the locker can’t be closed with more finesse and less brute strength.
Walking around the complex for a while, I notice LF using artificial plants throughout their facility. In my mind, live plants throughout the club add life and oxygen to the facility. Is it possible for LF could not train several folks to care for real plants. I sometimes wonder if I’d rather have no plants at all instead of artificial ones.
Much of their equipment in the aerobic area includes small TVs for viewing during the various work out cycle. Other areas have several TVs on to choose from. I appreciate most of the viewing venues include close captioning. I don’t always pay attention to the scenes or actions although reading the lines as they’re spoken helps me focus on something other than my breathing or lack of effort from time to time.
As I mentioned earlier, my wife loves the water and has joined the club strictly to do laps. Because chlorinated water is her safe zone, she has heard the outdoor pool will tentatively open around May 18. In addition, the outdoor pool at LF stayed open well into September. For someone who loves the water and loves to swim outside in the Midwest, this means something. Many city pools stay open for a little more than 3 months. By trying to expand things and playing the weather game, some seasons may allow you to add another month to the sport. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to some but others are excited about the outdoor season beginning soon.
Generally, the Life Time Fitness employees at the front desk greet you with a smile and say “hello.” Nice touch. There are also times where the front desk employees wish you a good day when leaving. This is more likely to occur later in the evening or when the fitness area is not so busy.
Thinking out loud, has LF ever considered adding some motivational or inspiring sayings on the doors when one exits? It may not hurt. You could change them bi-annually; it might add some appreciation or gratefulness to the experience. In the aerobic area with all the spin bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills and stair climbers, there are many anti-septic dispensers for users to clean the equipment. I appreciate the fact that they are conveniently located, there’s only been one incident where I was challenged to find a anti-septic wipe. An educated guess might say that 80-85% of the aerobic machine users actually wipe down their equipment after use. On the other hand, less than 10% of the strength training machines get wiped down after use. Not sure why the disparity? Maybe something to ponder while my heart rate has increased by 50% while on the elliptical.
So after almost 6 months, this is my experience and takeaway of the Life Time Fitness club in Vernon Hills. Indeed, there are a few areas of improvement but overall they do a good job. With an eye on improvement “tweaks,” it will continue to serve those health conscious individuals from around the area.