• Michelle Buyer

#14: Finding a New Home (AKA Gym)

This past week was my first week in Seattle. Naturally, my priority was to find a gym. I was hoping for a Lifetime or an Equinox, but I’m not willing to commute 45 min to Bellevue right now. I’ve been looking up gyms online in Seattle for months now since I’ve nervous as usual about finding a great gym for my spoiled self. So, what do I look for in a gym?

My fear of losing my progress makes me picky about machines and squat racks. I want to make sure that I will have all the weights and accessory machines that I need to feel like I’m reaching my full potential. I’m not sure I developed an aversion to a very crowded gym, since I used to workout during rush hour after my internships, but I’ll do almost anything to avoid having to wait for a machine.


Shower facilities are important too—specifically the shampoo and conditioner. Nothing can beat the Kiehl’s products at Equinox. At first, I didn’t understand how you could charge so much for hair products and lotion, but the Kiehl’s stuff really was the best. Equinox even had face wash in the shower. I’ll never spend the money Kiehl’s, but if I’m already paying for an expensive gym membership… I’m getting sidetracked. Lifetime’s soapbox products were nothing special, but they did the job.


The gym needs to be within walking distance of both my apartment and the office. When I’m in a hurry, every minute matters. If I can get to the gym a minute quicker, I can get an extra set in or do a proper warmup. I’ve never been lucky enough to be less than 15 minutes distance from a gym, but I’m sure I’ll get there one day.


It works to my advantage that I’m strong for a woman, but not for a man, because I have an easier time finding heavy enough dumbbells and enough plates. I know that I’ll never (or not yet at least) need to take up more than 4 plates at a time. However, this also means that managers underestimate my needs when visiting a gym. For example, I went to check out a place with my mom and explained to the environment and equipment I require. I look relatively small, so the manager assumes that I’m a cardio bunny who occasionally uses dumbbells. I laughed when my mom interrupted me to explain that I’m a nut and that I need just as many benches, squat racks, and bumper plates as the next man. It was the same way before I joined the Equinox.


After only a few visits, I joined the Seattle Athletic Club. I’m excited about it, but they don’t know what’s coming for them. I’ve been pushing myself hard lately, so my first week here was a de-load week. I’m embarrassed to be putting less weights on my bar at a new place, but I know that I need to be smart, and I’ll prove myself eventually. It usually takes a month or two before trainers and regulars start to introduce themselves to me once they realize that I’m consistent and serious. (I wish I could say I’m like “one of the guys” but that’s not true. Why does lifting have to be so inherently masculine?) The gym is my home and it’s important that I feel confident and welcome there.


My apartment building has a rack of dumbbells and cable machine, so I’ll be able to avoid the small panic that comes on national holidays when the gym closes. My new club also specializes in squash, so I’m hoping that I can get my dose of cardio, minimize burnout, and meet new people. I’m not excited to be walking up a new version of the Wellesley Death Hill every morning, but it’s a small sacrifice I can make to have a gym within a mile of my apartment and the office. This gym has a $15 fee every time you make a reservation and don’t cancel within 3 hours. As much as I hate this, I know that it will keep me accountable in the mornings when I’m on the fence about sleeping in and going after work. I hate paying fees as much (maybe more, I’m a Buyer after all) as I hate missing a workout.

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