Are there any decent Chicago gyms without yearly contracts?
January 25, 2008 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm being a very bad transhumanist by letting my body get so unhealthy over the last few years. I'd like to fix that; having just moved to the Chicago area, I'd like to find a decent gym to start working out in. My fear, however, is that I'll run into the same issue I've encountered before: signing a year contract only to let my attendance taper off (ultimately never visiting at all in the last six months).

I'd like to find a gym that allowed month-by-month, no-contract billing; I'm perfectly willing to pay a higher monthly rate than I would with a contract. Once I find myself attending for at least six solid months straight, I'd look into signing up for a year.

My ideal gym would also have multiple locations; I live in Oak Park and commute into the Near North Side, and I'd love to have the option of going immediately before or after work.

So, Chicago submodule of the hivemind: any suggestions?
posted by korpios to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How about the YMCA?
posted by Sassyfras at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2008

The Chicago Park District has several fitness centers where you can purchase a three-month membership for really cheap.

However, they are generally very small fitness centers, and because it's the New Year it's been really crowded lately. If you're looking to save money, I recommend looking into the parks, but if you're looking for lots of fantastic equipment and being able to run on the treadmill without getting when-are-you-gonna-be-done-already glares from people like me, you might want to look elsewhere.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2008

(although I don't know anything about their contracts and memberships)
posted by Sassyfras at 11:37 AM on January 25, 2008

Look at Evolution Fitness in Forest Park (at Madison & Circle, above Healy's). Its a small gym, but you can join by the month.
posted by MrsBell at 11:52 AM on January 25, 2008

Depending on how you get to work the gym at presidential towers (madison and jefferson) might be a good fit. It's a great gym and even has a pool and an outdoor area with a 200m track and a basketball court- they do have month to month, but there is some type of initiation fee they waive if you sign up for the first 6 months at once. Nothing longterm after that as far as I know. They also have locker and laundry service if you're interested, and even with all the bells and whistles it's cheaper than most of the fancy gyms.
posted by true at 12:03 PM on January 25, 2008

The YMCA is probably a good bet. I belong to the YMCA in Houston (I assume they all work the same way), and you pay a one-time membership fee, then pay monthly. I think it's a great deal.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 12:15 PM on January 25, 2008

How about Cardinal Fitness? I don't know if the locations are good for you, but I've used them down here in Champaign and can highly recommend them.
posted by MsMolly at 1:09 PM on January 25, 2008

Community colleges offer cheap fitness classes. It isn't really the same as the gym, but it is a workout and it is a set time that you are paying for, so maybe that would be incentive to go. Most schools offer a wide range of classes from hiking to yoga to ballroom dancing so the variety might be good for someone like you who gets bored by the routine.
posted by 45moore45 at 1:39 PM on January 25, 2008

I go to Cardinal Fitness like MsMolly mentioned -- it's good for a no-frills gym, but there are no classes or pool. Mine doesn't even have a bike rack; when I asked about getting one the manager told me I really shouldn't expect much for $20 a month. Fair enough.

When I lived in the city we went to the Y on Irving Park. However, my husband's SSN and other identifying information were stolen from there. He eventually had to testify in court.
posted by sugarfish at 2:11 PM on January 25, 2008

I think the Chicago Park District gyms are free until the end of the month.
posted by wfrgms at 5:20 PM on January 25, 2008

If you're looking for a little more high-end, try XSport. They aren't cheap, but I believe they have contractless options. And they have a lot of stuff.
posted by gjc at 8:42 PM on January 25, 2008

Meet someone there who has a similar schedule. You don't even have to talk to them. Just nod and smile. They will expect to keep seeing you. You will expect to keep seeing them. Remember, working out really is a social event.
posted by ptm at 10:38 AM on January 26, 2008

I never could manage the gym, but for a long time (until they moved to an inconvenient location) I was a pretty reliable presence at the local Wushu joint.

The trick is, choose someplace where you have to meet others at predictable times, where they will expect you to be coming. Ideally, choose someplace on your way home that you will see on your route, so this will trigger you to pull in on evenings (or mornings/afernoons, whichever) that you have a class.

Wushu will more than adequately take care of your normal exercise needs; for things like weights, you can always get a set of weights for probably around the cost of two months of gym, or you can always do calisthenics instead.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:30 PM on January 26, 2008

Response by poster: The YMCA really isn't my thing, for philosophical and political reasons. (No rebuttals on this one, please.)

I'd prefer somewhere that I can take my time on any given machine, so in the interest of not pissing off other patrons, it sounds like I should avoid the CPD gyms. ;-)

Evolution Fitness, while not too far from home, isn't anywhere along the way to work; being able to hit the gym before or after work is a big part of what I'm looking for. That goes doubly for Cardinal Fitness — they're not anywhere near my home (Oak Park) or my job (Near North Side, right by the Chicago Brown Line stop). I take the Blue through the Loop before/after transferring, so anything around the Loop would be of interest.

While I appreciate all the ideas relating to how to keep up with exercise (vs. gym suggestions), I know myself pretty well; I'm a fairly introverted beast, and keeping up with exercise is simply a matter of forcing a routine down my throat long enough for it to stick. ;-) With a book (I have a Kindle on back-order) and some earplugs, I can happily zone out for hours; I just have to get my ass to the gym first.

I sometimes wish I didn't live on the second floor; my favorite form of exercise is Dance Dance Revolution, and, well ... bad idea. ^_^
posted by korpios at 3:52 PM on January 26, 2008

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