BEST HEALTH CLUB - 24-Hour Fitness - For the fourth year in a row, the round-the-clock gym (with four Spokane locations, plus Liberty Lake and Coeur d'Alene facilities) has cornered the fitness-fanatic vote. Like other health clubs in the area, 24-Hour has cardiovascular workout areas, free weights and machine weights; it offers yoga along with cycling and aerobics classes; some clubs have gyms for basketball and pools for swimming. So what makes this Emporium of Sweat distinctive?
"People tend to come in here," says Carl Washington, fitness manager at the downtown club, "for one of three reasons: they're seeking either sports performance -- we get a lot of skiers and golfers here -- weight loss or muscle gain. Weight loss is the most common." At this point, his advice switches topics from exercise to nutrition: "I tell people that they'll need to increase their frequency of eating. 'You mean, I get to eat more?' they ask. And I say, 'No, I didn't say that. You need to eat smaller portions, but more often.' Because if you steadily feed your body, it's like with fuel injectors -- you're keeping a steady flow of energy going."
The downtown club's manager, Stephan De La Cruz, comments that, in addition to being open 24/7 and offering nutritional advice, the 24-Hour staff pay attention to each member: "Where we differ is in our individually based programs. Instead of generalized programs, where you're just sort of generally told to get in a good mix of cardio training and resistance work, we succeed in keeping our members updated with the latest information."
But what about problems with lack of motivation? De La Cruz agrees that too many folks give up on their New Year's resolutions too soon: "They'll linger, not knowing what to do, and they'll just quit showing up." But individual attention helps the Sweat People stick with their programs. "We have one guy in here," says De La Cruz, "and he's lost something like 88 pounds. And he says it's because he feels welcomed in our club, that we have motivated him, that we know him by name."
2nd: Gold's Gym
3rd: The Spokane Club
Michael Bowen is a senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things. Since 2005, he has authored Stage Thrust, a local theater blog.