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Arcadia Fitness vs. 24 Hour Fitness

Stewart’s Workout: Arcadia Fitness vs. 24 Hour Fitness

There is no excuse for most people in Arcadia not to have a regular exercise regime. There are now two workout facilities in the city, with another coming. If all goes according to plan, an LA Fitness will be located at 1325 Baldwin Ave., south of Duarte Rd. where the Ross – Dress for Less clothing store has been.

Larry Stewart

For now, there is the Arcadia Fitness Sports Club, formerly Arcadia All-Pro, located at First and Duarte, and the new 24 Hour Fitness, located three-quarters of a mile to the north at First and Santa Clara.

Arcadia All-Pro opened in 1982, backed by a group of investors that included some well-known athletes. (Footnote: It’s commonly believed that former Ram great Merlin Olsen was one of them. Reached at his home in Park City, Utah, Olsen told Arcadia’s Best that his bother Phil was an investor, but Merlin was not. The group also included the Rams’ Jack Youngblood, according to Merlin Olsen, and I believe former UCLA quarterbacks John Sciarra and Rob Scribner were also involved. )

The new 24 Hour Fitness opened in early July, and is one of more than 400 such facilities in the U.S. and Asia. I have been a member of what I still call Arcadia All-Pro since 1990. I joined when I turned 44 and decided I was too old to continue to play basketball with the kids at the Santa Anita YMCA in Monrovia.

I signed up for 24 Hour Fitness a few days before it opened. My initial cost was $173, if I recall correctly. That covered two months at $35-and-change per month, plus a $102 initiation fee. I was told the monthly fee would go to $40 each month once the facility opened.

My membership at Arcadia All-Pro (as I say, that’s is what I still call it) is $50 a month, and that also includes a membership for my adult daughter Kelly, who lives at home.

The $50 is a discount deal because my wife is a teacher in the Arcadia Unified School District. In fact, the fee comes out of her paycheck.

Arcadia All-Pro offers discounts to a wide variety of city employees. 24 Hour Fitness may too. Don’t know for sure. The people there haven’t been real cooperative in helping me with this story.

First, an e-mail with several questions was not returned. Then the manager told me I needed to submit a list of questions that would have to be approved on the corporate level. Since I had already done that, I figured it was just more trouble than it is worth.

The idea behind joining 24 Hour Fitness was to compare it with Arcadia All-Pro. I’ve found that basically there are good and bad things about both.

I think the best thing to happen to Arcadia All-Pro was the arrival of 24 Hour Fitness. Don’t know for sure if that’s the reason, but there have been a lot of improvements at All-Pro: new equipment, new flooring and at least attempts to improve the men’s locker room. (Sorry, women, I’m not familiar with your locker room, for obvious reasons.)

Arcadia All-Pro is a private club with lots of amenities. Members are handed two towels and a locker key when they walk in the door, although sometimes the dryer isn’t working and you have to wait on the towels. At 24 Hour Fitness, you have to bring your own towel and your own lock. Towels and locks are for sale in the lobby shop.

Since Arcadia All-Pro is an older facility, not everything works all the time. For example, the steam room has actually been too hot lately. It never turns off, for some reason. And the cold dip, which provides a great way to finish off a workout, usually isn’t cold enough.

However, I prefer the locker room at Arcadia All-Pro to the one at 24 Hour Fitness by a wide margin. The locker room is the worst thing about 24 Hour Fitness. Early on, there were a lot of complaints about it being dirty and the floor often being wet. Management has attempted to keep it cleaner, but the tile looks dirty even when it’s clean.

And the way the locker room is designed, it’s as if they’re trying to tell you – go home and shower. The faucets are automatic, so the water isn’t hot enough for shaving. There are automatic hand dryers as well and no paper towels, which is not a good thing. And where you have to stand to turn on the showers, you get hit in the face with cold water. I could go on and on.

The aerobics area downstairs and the weight-training upstairs generally get high marks. One complaint about downstairs, however, is members have no control over what’s shown on the flat-screen TV monitors. And there is no volume, only closed-captioning.

There are little bothersome things too. For example, there has been some ripped vinyl on a triceps machine upstairs since Day One, and apparently no one has noticed.

The good things about 24 Hour Fitness include its newness, a wide variety of exercise equipment, a full basketball court (even though I no longer play) and an enclosed exercise class area. The swimming pool at 24 Hour Fitness beats the one at Arcadia All-Pro, and when the parking structure at 24 Hour Fitness is completed, that should be a another plus. But Arcadia All-Pro has racquetball courts and 24 Hours Fitness does not.

A positive about Arcadia All-Pro is that it has the feeling of being a private club. You feel you are part of a group, and it is easy to make friends there. I certainly have. They include Rick Ramage, Pete Bonfils, Larry Risdon, Tony Lugo, Ray Bell, and Brad Berger, to name just a few. I doubt I will make many friends at 24 Hour Fitness. It’s too big and impersonal.

My biggest complaint about Arcadia All-Pro may be the muscle-toned exercise class instructor who is apparently tone deaf. He plays his music full blast, and it reverberates throughout the gym, disturbing those who aren’t in his class. Apparently, the young man has had a deaf ear to complaints. A front-desk employee said there have been “millions” of them.

But when this instructor isn’t conducting a class and breaking eardrums, Arcadia All-Pro is a good place to go for a workout, a steam, a shave, a shower, a relaxing session in the Jacuzzi, and an invigorating dip in the small cold pool next to the Jacuzzi.

24 Hour Fitness is basically only good for a workout.

If I eventually have to choose between one of the two, I’m sticking with Arcadia All-Pro, or what is now called Arcadia Fitness Sports Club.

(Have you tried both fitness centers? Give us your response to Larry’s experiences as well as your own feelings about the clubs in the comments area below.)


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