I have this non-training-type bicycle I bought in the first initial wave of horror at the thin-tiredness and sensitivity of a road bike (having not owned or, basically, really, RIDDEN a bike other than perhaps a handful of times since my banana-seated Schwinn dirt bike age 6-7!), and I am thinking it would be well worth building cycling comfort by actually USING it (I have a good lock, too - the lock honestly cost almost as much as the bike!). So I rode downtown to my friend N.'s daughter's 2nd birthday party, and rode home again afterwards - it is the same route I ran earlier, along the west side path - normally I would not log it, it is sort of like logging a brisk walk - but in this case, so that my week's Buckeye Outdoors log is not UTTERLY NAKED of the little bike symbol, it will be allowable for morale to log it as 14 - which, honestly, it is, only in 2 halves!
I am also toying with the idea (is it the voice of mental insanity, or is actually good sense?) of getting a membership at Chelsea Piers. Hmmm, hard to know with these things - I'm going to sleep on it for a couple days and decide. Weigh in below if you have an opinion!
It is a lovely gym. I've been to L.'s boot camp class with her a few times now and it is GREAT. Luxurious locker rooms! A pool, one in which as far as I can tell you would much more often end up splitting a lane than doing circle swim and which is open (again, as far as I can tell) pretty much ALL THE TIME. (It is billed here as New York's most amazing indoor swimming pool, and I don't know that that's an exaggeration, though in my dim memory the one in the rooftop gym at Worldwide Plaza is very nice too...)
There are lots of classes, including spinning and abs stuff...
(It is about 5 miles downtown from where I live, inconveniently slow on subway but only 20 mins on my bike along the park path, with a lot of racks for locking bikes in a semi-secure area.)
The advantages concern the two things that don't work for me about the Columbia gym. Both of which, come to think of it, have to do with CROWDING.
The Dodge Fitness Center was built in the 1970s when Columbia was a much smaller college, men only, and before there was a culture of recreational working out! It is beyond inadequate to school-year needs - there is a strict 30-minute on any cardio machine use (i.e. TOTAL, for day, not per machine), and if one gets there at a time like 5:15pm there might literally not be a single machine open. The weight room is horribly crowded with buff 20-year-old young men, and the 2 other floors of fitness equipment are also intolerably crowded much of the time (it is built vertically, on three floors underground, in bunker-like fashion - very poor ventilation!).
The pool is only open for lane swim 12-2 and 7-9:30, and all of those hours (except for the last forty minutes in the evening, when it's usually down to only 4-5 people per lane, 3 if you're lucky) are packed.
And the classes are done more in a college-type style of scheduling: rather than being year-round and drop-in, as most gyms do these days, there are 2 ten-week "semesters" and a summer session, so that you might sign up, say, for Iyengar Yoga MW8-9am for that ten-week session. If I have a work conflict, I can't do a makeup class at another time, and also, frustratingly, there are no regular classes (they have been offering a limited repertoire of classes, but never the ones I want!) during the weeks BETWEEN semesters when I actually have time to go to them! And you pay for each class - the basic CU membership sounds like a great deal, I pay something like $300 for the year, but once you add in the lane swim and class costs it stops being so great, especially once you consider how it adds up - $140 for a semester of morning swimming, $48 for 10 sessions of yoga - the prices are all very reasonable in themselves, especially if you can go to all of them (which I never can), but the cumulative cost is not negligible.
The other thing I really see is that though a gym membership with a pool would be a luxury, given my ready and convenient access to Columbia's pool, other TNYA options and my true love for swimming (which means I will find some way to do it regardless), I really do need to figure out a better solution for core and strength training. It's too crowded to be pleasant at the Columbia gym, and the class structure there clearly doesn't work for me - I've signed up a couple times now for Body Sculpt-type classes and they just don't suit me. The style of what's offered at a regular non-college gym is more to my taste (there is just something depressing about the spaces the Columbia classes are offered in, perhaps that's the long and short of it!), but the flexibility of drop-in is also very good.
Whether or not I get the Chelsea Piers membership, in other words, I need to find a better solution to the problem of my lack of motivation to do 2x/week strength training - I believe that it is essential for body composition and that it much more directly contributes to healthy eating than endurance training does (the latter just gives me a craving for cake, whereas the former makes grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli seem delicious and infinitely desirable)...
There's only one huge downside to this notion, of course - COST! I can afford it, I guess, but is it a good use of my triathlon dollars? Hmmm, I hate descending to the sordid realities, now I feel like an obnoxious rich person too - but we are talking something like $158/month, with a thing where you can pay $35 and "freeze" your membership for a month (30 days, not necessarily on an actual calendar month) if you are traveling. If I went twice a week, with great faithfulness and enjoyment, that comes to $20/visit, which strikes me as altogether reasonable when compared to the cost of, say, a one-class pass to a boot camp at Bodystrength Fitness (another option). Let's say $1600/year, with the freeze months.