Why did I start running to work? And, why did I stop?
I started running to work a few years ago when I got tired of seeing crowded F trains go by the Carroll Street stop before I eventually crammed into another one, only to be often stuck because of “train congestion ahead” for over an hour on a trip that is only 5 miles in actual distance.
The way I managed to do this back then was by being a member of New York Sports Clubs and taking advantage of their “passport membership” that lets you go to any of their gyms in the city.
That way I could bundle up my work clothes in my spiffy running backpack and then run to and shower at a NYSC near my office.
NYSC locations have decent showers, depending on the location and provide towel service, body wash, shampoo, and bags for putting sweaty clothes in.
Prices at New York Sports Clubs are a lot like prices at cable companies: there are the advertised prices and then the prices you randomly pay because you are grandfathered in or threaten to quit, etc.
At any rate, that came to an end in October when, for the sake of convenience (and my girlfriend), I signed up for the gym that is only a couple of blocks from my apartment, Body Elite.
Body Elite is terribly overpriced for what it is, but it has an extremely convenient location for me that is also catty-corner from Carroll Park, where the running club I go for runs with meets.
It seemed overkill to be paying for two memberships, so I cancelled my NYSC membership. I had an easier time of it than Chandler.
For the first few months, I was traveling out of New York enough that the times I needed to take the F train didn’t frustrate me too much.
Why did I start again? And, where do I shower now?
But since the new year, I’ve been consistently in New York and got sick of being on the F in the mornings again. So, I wanted to investigate the options of running to work again.
Equinox, Crunch, and NYSC are all too expensive for this purpose, even if you sign up for their “one location” options.
Another option would have been signing up for the NYC Parks Recreation Center Membership (only $150 for the year) and showering at the Chelsea Recreation Center. I possibly did not kick the tires on that option enough.
The Blink Fitness in Chelsea was, in addition to the bogus yearly membership fee that most of these clubs have ($49 in this case), $25 per month for use of just that one club or $26 per month for use of any Blink Fitness.
The Planet Fitness in Chelsea was, again in addition to a $39 Yearly Membership fee, either $10 per month for one club use or $21.99 per month for all club use (and unlimited tanning and hydromassage!)
Yelp, perhaps unfairly, didn’t provide me with a lot of confidence in the Planet Fitness showers. Given that was the only real purpose of my signing up for a gym, it seemed like an important attribute. So, I ended up signing up for the all access Blink membership. I may end up regretting this as the Planet Fitness locations are slightly more convenient to Central Park and my office (and who can forget the tanning beds?), but I won’t look back in anger.
In the end, the gym membership essentially pays for itself if I run to work enough. The price for the subway these days is about $2.62 when you include the discounts you get for buying your metrocard. When you include the annual membership price, If I run in 12 times in a month, I come out ahead. Obviously if I went the Planet Fitness or NYC Parks route, I would have done even better.
How did it go?
I went for my first run to Blink this morning. The run was just as enjoyable as I had remembered.
The Blink gym itself actually looked really nice and was not very crowded. It seemed like a great place to get in a workout if I chose to do so down the road.
The locker room, contrarily, was very crowded (perhaps everyone just goes there to shower). There was even a line to use one of the only four showers (the showers themselves were very powerful and hot). There were no bags for putting your dirty laundry. And, the worst aspect is that there is no towel service (a problem for all of the budget gyms in the city).
I fortunately knew this beforehand and brought my own. I even purchased some new extra quick drying towels with the hopes it will make bringing a towel easier.
What do I carry in my bag?
In addition to the towel. I bring the clothes that I wear to work. This is very easy since there is no dress code to speak of where I work, and I don’t need to be that concerned about wrinkles or fancy shoes.
However, I do manage to keep things fairly neat and have brought business casual attire along with me in the past.
I use a medium sized packing cube (normally meant for luggage) to keep my clothes organized.
The packing cube and towel all go inside a plastic bag to protect them from the elements (most notably my sweaty back).
I can also usually get my casual shoes in the bag as well, depending on the volume of clothing I have to bring. During the winter, I usually am jamming a sweater and jacket in the bag as well.
As for the bag itself, I have a super light bag that Saucony used to make. I’ve managed to keep it together through the years with some rudimentary Home Ec skills. It looks like it possibly is still available in bright colors.
I’ve seen this bag advertised and it seems like it could be a good alternative.
What tips for commuting by run do you have?