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Kirkland Gym Tour: That's a Wrap!

 My body isn't as exhausted as my fingers are.  That was a lot of typing!  I hope you all had fun virtually joining me on my gym tour of Kirkland.  Thanks again to all of the great gyms and fitness fanatics out there that made this such a fun adventure.  You guys were awesome. May we all look fabulous in our swimsuits this season. When the sun comes out........mid-July perhaps?

People keep asking me if I'm changing gyms or doing things differently since this project.  Here's the net....we're staying put at Columbia Athletic Club because it's the best fit for our whole family.  But I will say that I have picked up really useful information at each gym that I visited and have stored into my fitness memory bank and pull it out often.  When I'm doing reps and not feeling like I'm challenged I make sure that I'm going slow/steady and sometimes add small pulses to increase the burn.  I've incorporated more short burst exercises into my wt room routine (jumping rope, obstacle jumps).  I count some of my intervals by time instead of reps now. I love setting up mini-circuits for myself and powering through the stations.  And crazy as it may seem, you can occasionally find me doing some sprints on the treadmill. There are specific exercises I've stuck with that were really challenging when I first tried them and now I've got them dialed in.  We have a sloped roofline in our garage, and to my surprise (delight) Steve just suggested we install a pegboard out there.  Things are looking up. 

So, I hope you picked up a few new tricks and learned a little along the way about what each of the fitness facilities in Kirkland has to share.  Which is your fave and why? Did you go try somewhere new? Or did you have to check with corporate? Snap! You guys have been uncharacteristically quiet lately.  

Next I'm getting ready to share some really fun yoga reviews from guest bloggers.   But first I have to pay some attention to my kids who are wondering why all I do is workout and sit on my computer.  Catcha soon, j 

Kirkland Gym Tour: Columbia Athletic Club

Columbia Athletic Club

11450 98th Ave NE, 425-821-0882, Hrs: 5a-10:30p, Sat 7-8, Sun 8-8

050  059 052 <--group exercise room

For fear of being completely obvious, you should know that we have been members at Columbia Athletic Club (CAC) for over ten years, so this is the easiest one for me to talk about.  This club has a lot to offer a wide variety of people, but my favorite thing is that it has a neighborhood feel where people take the time to know you by name.  Just look at those warm smiley faces on Mark Peterson/General Manager, David Hamilton/Operations, and Alicia and Jeannie at the front desk (photo above). 

Columbia is a true 'club' where you can expect a fresh folded towel when you walk in and will be able to shower in the locker-rooms without fear.   They just underwent a remodel last year so much of the facility has been recently renovated and the equipment is new.  I love this gym because it is the kind of place where you can bring your whole family and there is something for everyone.  Let me run you through a typical Sunday morning for the Rabuchin family: We drop the kids in Kids Club while I hit the weights/cardio and Steve runs squash drills with Bali, the squash pro, on one of their three courts (there is also one racquetball court). When we're done, we grab the kids and run them around the basketball court or bring them down for a swim in the salt water pool.  Then we can all hit the hot tub, shower up and sit in the lounge sipping our free coffees and hot chocolates.  There's no place else in Kirkland that has so many offerings under one roof. Bonus: parking is easy and you never have to wait for equipment.  

There are plenty of programs to keep you busy.   For the kids they have the Kids Club, camps, swimming lessons, birthday parties, parents nights out, swim/gym (free for members!).  There's an active senior membership as well that take advantage of classes like Tai Chi and "Young at Heart."  Then there is a designated room for spin classes, a group exercise room (pic above) with many offerings to take advantage of (most are free, a couple are fee based), and there is also a designated space for 'Gravity' classes where there are 4 machines and one instructor.  If you have never tried this workout, you should give it a go! The machines (photo below) have a rolling glide board and a unilateral-bilateral pulley system that can deliver high intensity sequences that target specific muscle groups.  Steve does the 6am class with Brandi every Weds morning and every Weds night he's whining about what a tough workout he endured. Waaaaahhh!

If your post-workout soreness needs to be addressed, they have massage therapists that can get you fixed up too--maybe after your steam/sauna? There's cardio upstairs (ellipse, cybex, bikes) and downstairs (treadmills, stair-climbers). You'll find experienced trainers that love what they do and care about your goals and helping you achieve them.  Some have even been there longer than I have.  Top Secret-I love eavesdropping on training sessions to pick up new ideas.

053 058 pool, cardio and squash courts
 054 056 free weight room, GRAVITY

Speaking of training,  Brandi Ohlsen, the Fitness Director, was nice enough to do some metabolic testing on me.  I had to run on a treadmill for about 10-15 minutes with a mask on my face that was measuring my breath (must be stinky at that wee hour of the morning) and oxygen levels.  A bit claustrophobic but made it through. We also did some resting/fasting measurements on a different day.  Turns out my VO2 max, which is the 'horsepower' of your metabolic engine and largely genetically predetermined, is considered 'well above average' (47) so thank you mom and dad!   The really interesting thing about this testing is that you can determine your RMR, or resting metabolic rate. (ie the # of calories your body is using to simply run itself and just be you. Mine is 1759.) and use that to figure out how many calories you should be consuming in a day to maintain (2639 for me).  Of course, this also gives you what you need to figure out how many calories and how much exercise you require to reach specific goals.  For example, if I wanted to lose 15 pounds, I would need to cut 500 calories somewhere- either reducing my intake or increasing my exercise or a combination of both.  Brandi recommended using this free online calorie counter. Be sure to pay attention that you are documenting your portion sizes correctly- ie, calories on the box may be for 1/2 cup of cereal.  But who really only eats 1/2 c of cereal? And btw, NEVER make dietary cuts that makes your daily caloric intake below your RMR.  Then your body thinks you're starving and that will really mess with the resources that your body is burning. The test also yielded my aerobic base and anaerobic threshold, which segmented my  target heart-rates into 'zones'.  An entire workout was generated based on my profile, which looks like a perfect formula for working on my weaker zones (zone 3-a high intensity zone used to improve aerobic conditioning....go figure!).   

Ok- I love this stuff but if you read this far into the gritty details of zones and thresholds you deserve a reward!  Columbia Athletic Club is going to offer a  free one-week pass to the gym for our first FIVE responders.  If you've been thinking about trying it out or know a friend who is, here's your perfect opportunity.  Email me here if you are interested and I'll hook you up.

Memberships start at $94/mo and $400 for initiation for an individual.  Right now initiation is half off thru the month of June (new promos start in July).  There's also a 'flex hr' membership so those of you that don't need to come during peak hours can enjoy some savings (starts@ $58/mo indiv). The great thing for us is that CAC is so close.  When something is convenient  (I literally pass it 4-6 times a day) it makes it that much easier to commit to being there.  You can usually find me in the free weight room pulling on my water-ski rope or doing some crazy balance exercises.  Be sure to say hello. See you there? 

Kirkland Gym Tour: 24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness

529 Parkplace Center, 425-889-2582, Hrs: 24 hrs (DUH)


24 Hour Fitness has been working out the locals in Kirkland Park Place for 25 years now.  Their 22,000 square foot location operates on the principle of "fitness done right," says Club Manager, Noah Gross,  "....it's for the everyday person that wants to work out.  We make it easy to join and easy to use." 

There's an open format studio upstairs where they offer plenty of classes which are included with a membership (Zumba is hot right now). The cardio machines seem to be a really popular spot, and there is also a separate free weight room and plenty of nautilus equipment (which could maybe use a little updating). There are more photos on their site. 24 Hr employs 7 full-time certified trainers (3 sessions for $129 w/a money back guarantee).   I got to spend an hour with Master Trainer, Leo Matsumoto, who really made me work. No dinking around, which I love! After a quick eval and a review of my usual fitness routine and goals, we were off working on core/balance (BOSU crunches), reactive exercises (box jumps), speed/agility (treadmill sprints), and strength (lunge curls, push up's w/rotation). Leo quickly honed in on my strengths and weaknesses and tailored a workout that had me in constant motion.  I would definitely recommend him- I also liked his creativity when I told him I typically focus a lot on balance/core he came up with some great challenges (even by-passers were commenting!)

It's evident from Noah's enthusiasm that he cares about the club and it's members.  As we walked through the free weight room he congratulated a 66 year old woman who was getting ready to go run the Boston Marathon for the first time in her life. He just raved about her training and determination.  24 Hr does have a locker room with sauna/steam/jacuzzi and even a kids club ($20/mo unlimited) but don't expect glamor.  I was there in the morning and parking was fine, but I can imagine that gets more challenging during after-work hours.  I had to let the elephant out of the closet and ask about the plan for the Park Place Re-development and how that would impact the club (it is located on the end of KPP that is slated to be Phase 1 of the project). Noah said they have enjoyed being part of the community for this long and are very much hoping to find a new location in Kirkland.  They'd be looking for a space that is around 40,000 sf which is comparable to the size of their other clubs. 

In the meantime, go ahead and try it.  You can always get a 7 day guest pass with no hassles, no questions asked. All memberships are month to month and they make it easy to join or cancel at any time. Detailed pricing options are on their website and start at $26.99/mo and vary based on term and whether you want access to one or multiple clubs. Every new member gets a fitness orientation when they join. For an additional fee, they also offer the Body Bugg personal calorie management system (this is the one they use on Biggest Loser, which they sponsor).

Kirkland Gym Tour: Gold's Gym

Gold's Gym

1113 120th Ave NE, 425-827-0777, Hrs M-F 4:30a-11p, Sat 7a-8p, Sun 8a-8p


I was really curious to try out Gold's Gym but ended up sorely disappointed when they snubbed me. I have a few friends and neighbors that are members who like it but I had never been in there. And I think it's commendable that Gold's has managed to overcome their 80's stigma of being a meathead gym.  Unfortunately, they need to work on their customer service.  I walked in happy and excited to explain my blog gym project to the manager, Clint, who kept his arms folded and cut me off mid-sentence saying "everything goes thru corporate." Okay.  Maybe he wasn't listening-it's not like I was selling him something, so I explained that this was an opportunity.  Free marketing, in a sense, to let everyone in Kirkland know what they're about.  Last I checked freedom of speech rights didn't have to go through Gold's corporate office, but he was pretty firm on his stance.  So much for a smile and warm welcome to a potential new client.

So I tried a different strategy in English he might understand..."I have my gym clothes on, may I work out for an hour?" Apparently yes with a $15 guest fee.  At this point I'm thinking maybe I should have just cut the "3 month free" coupon from the paper and not even introduced myself.  "How about a tour at least?" Finally, a nod and he waved his arm and delegated me off to a completely embarrassed college age worker that led me on a tour. So, here goes........

It's a really big space with lots of weights and machines and cardio both upstairs and downstairs.  It was actually nicer than my mind had envisioned a Gold's being--machines seemed new and the place was neat and organized within the warehouse-sized space. There's a Kids Club too which is $32/mo unlimited usage when you buy a package. I saw locker rooms with showers that appeared doable. Classes are included with your membership and range from yoga to body pump and muscle blast. One popular selling point for this gym is it's hours.  They open at 4:30am on weekdays and I've heard there's a lineup at the door to get in then. Parking could be an issue-spots seemed limited compared to the number of people this gym is capable of holding.  

This Gold's Gym is in the same franchise as the Lake Forest Park, Woodinville, Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle and North Seattle locations. Some memberships transfer but you will have to check with corporate. Enrollments range from $24.99-39.99 an indiv/mo dependent on whether you pay a small enrollment fee ($19) or commit to personal training sessions upfront. But you should check with corporate. Their website appears to offer a 7 day Free VIP membership. But you should check with corporate. I am going to check with Kirkland Weblog corporate (that's me) to see if I can send Clint a copy of "Raving Fans." Maybe that's all he needs. :-) 

Kirkland Gym Tour: Kiva

Kiva Conditioning Clubs

14130 Juanita Dr. NE, Ste 111, 425-821-6004, Hrs: M-R 5am-10pm, Fri 5-9, Sat & Sun 7-7

Kiva 004 Kiva 003 Kiva 005

Hello annexation! Although this club is technically not in Kirkland, I know that this is a great fit for many of our Juanita neighbors that are now officially Kirklanders. So, welcome!  Kiva has a clean and new feel with plenty of cardio and a beautiful studio for classes upstairs (photo above) which are included with membership.  This is one of the few so far that is a true club in the sense that you can expect towel service and there's a locker room that you can shower in without hesitation.   And a dry sauna too ;-).

Downstairs there are plenty of free weights, machines and other equipment like BOSUs, physioballs, medicine balls, etc.  It feels like a happy place-- great light, clean environment and members were all very helpful and upbeat. I met Wendy Kriston for a training session and we ended up at the Kinesis wall (photo above, that's me and Wendy standing in front of it).  This was a unique piece of equipment from all of the other gyms I visited. Here's a video clip I found so you can get the gist of how it works. Wendy darted me around the weight room with gusto - I love a woman with a plan.  She pushed me through some compound movements, BOSU hops, balance exercises on the physioball and then over to the kinesis wall (where my lack of coordination really had a chance to shine).  But after a few reps I was getting the hang of the multi-pulley system where I would pull, squat and then pivot into a lunge while pushing the pulley handles away from my body. A Kinesis workout is designed for increasing strength and flexibility, improving resistance, bettering coordination (hello Janis!) and improving posture and breathing control. This program is in addition to a regular membership, but you do not have to be a member to sign up for a kinesis class (reservations required). 

Overall, this seems like a great place for all ages and fitness levels as there's something for everyone here.  Parking seems easy since it's in a little shopping center.  Memberships start at $59/mo for an individual and there's a discount for committing to a year (they also waive the enrollment fee of $199).  Seniors and students also get a break. Memberships include FREE tanning, FREE childcare (woohoo!) and one training session per month.  That's pretty cool.  Summertime promo is no enrollment fee and 3mos for $159/single or 6 mos for $299/single. If you want to give it a try, head on in for a 1-2 week free trial pass!

Kirkland Gym Tour: EndZone Athletics

Endzone Athletics

423 6th St. South, 425-739-9295, Hrs: M-F 10-8, Sat 11-3

EndZoneAthletics EndZone  Pegboard1

Endzone Athletics is a great fit for anyone with sport-specific performance goals and the drive to get themselves to the next level. Whether you are running your first marathon or need another 2 inches of vertical for your jump shot, this is the type of training that recognizes millimeters and fractions of a second DO make a difference. While they also cater to general health and fitness clients, student and recreational athletes, many competitive and pro athletes also frequent this facility.   MMA fighters come here from all over the world to train for months at a time (AMC Kickboxing is right next door).  

Conveniently located in a small shopping center between our new Metropolitan Market and the Google campus, at first the location seems unsuspecting. Some warm weather sets in, the garage door goes up and you can see the astro-turf floor in the weight room with clients focusing on the challenge at hand.  When I first strolled in, the owner Joel Jamieson (pictured above at the rope-pull), used his really cool software program called Omegawave to evaluate my current fitness status. This required me to rest for 5 minutes with electrodes on my torso and monitoring devices on my wrists and ankles.  After skirting any worry that he might be turning me into Frankenstein, we went on to do the physical test.  This included push-ups (41, love those), flexed arm hang, front and side plank holds, rope pulls, the Versaclimber and  Jacob's ladder (endurance,ack! this one makes me cry). What I already knew was proven for sure: my upper body strength will outshine my legs any day.

A couple days later we reviewed the results.  This testing tells us all kinds of things about your lactate threshold, strength assessment, metabolic profile and cardiovascular fitness.  But the reason this is so important is because everyone is different and the the type of training your body needs might vary greatly from someone else that has the same goal.  For me, this evaluation let us know that my system was not completely recovered from the workout I already did that morning.  It also measured the state of my energy supply system by giving me an aerobic and anaerobic status index.  It is graded on a scale from 1-7 with 7 being optimal.  Turns out my aerobic level (cardio/distance endurance, the activities I dread and avoid) was a 3 while my anaerobic score (short burst strength types of things I love to do-squash, waterski, weights) was a 7.  It also let me know my HRV (heart rate variability) and identified training intensity zones.  Then there was the option to have Joel do a body fat measurement for me.  I won't bore you with the results but let's just say I was pleasantly surprised.  Ok, I was jumping up and down in delight. 

My workout at Endzone felt very customized.  Damn it if we didn't head back to that Jacob's Ladder again. It's like my personal torture chamber. Then to single legged squats with one leg propped behind me.  Some killer hamstring work then short burst intervals where I would jump down a row of obstacles.  Then we'd head to the cardio for 5 minutes of high resistence in between exercises.  It was fun doing some waterski training too- we slung some giant rubber bands around me and some heavy equipment so I could lean away (simulating the pull of the boat).  Then Joel would give me a light push in different directions so I could focus on keeping/recovering my balance. I've got to mention the peg board.  Have you seen one of these? It's simply a board with pegholes mounted to the wall.  The objective is to use the pegs to lift your bodyweight and scale up the wall (no using your feet!).  Joel said he hasn't had a woman make it to the top, so of course I take this as a personal challenge.  Why do I do this to myself? Halfway up the first time.  Been working on my pullups (6-7 now) which got me about 75% up when I dropped by again.  Then today I was finally victorious!   We took a few photos (see above)-you may even see one mounted on top of the board soon. ;-)

If you are serious about your workouts and have a performance goal that you are striving towards, Endzone is going to get you there.  The hours are a bit unusual- no early mornings (my prime workout time), and they are not about frills (no towels, and what I call a 'boy' bathroom) but parking is easy and the facility and training is really customized for results.  Think you're ready for it?  EndZone Athletics is giving away FREE EVALUATIONS (like the one I had, valued at $75/each) to the first 5 readers that respond here.  There are no initiation fees at Endzone.  Powerfit classes are 3x/wk for $249/mo and are offered Mon-Thurs @ 6pm and Sat at noon.  This includes a monthly evaluation so you can monitor change and evaluate results.  For sports fanatics, there are also sports specific programs offered throughout the year, check the website for current classes. Summertime=hello volleyball! Have fun. 

Kirkland Gym Tour: Fitness Together

Fitness Together

10600 NE 68th St, Ste C, 425-739-4668, Hrs: M-F 6am-9pm, Sat 6-3

FitnessTogether 002
Former military man and Dallas football player, Chuck Miller (photo), owns Fitness Together which you'll find right across the parking lot from PCC in Houghton.  He's been there for seven years. This is an interesting concept, especially for those that may feel uncomfortable in a gym or out of place in a group exercise situation. Here they have four private training rooms, each equipped with pulleys, a BOSU, medicine balls, weights, etc. There are a few cardio machines up front that you can use anytime.  So, this is always a one-on-one customized workout with a professional trainer.  They have 3 trainers and you always workout with the same one.

I asked Chuck to take me through a typical workout.  By the way, there's no childcare but it's ok to have your kiddo in your session with you (my 5 year old tagged along and stayed occupied w/their bucket of toys). We did a little trainer-assisted stretching to start and then hit the weights. Most of the exercises were isolated movements which he clearly demonstrated for me as we moved around the room. Lat pulls, lunges onto a BOSU, calf raises, bicep curls, chest presses, and a bunch of abs at the end.  Overall we hit each major muscle group with a set or two of 15 reps. Not super challenging for me personally, but I think the sweet spot for this business model is folks that are new to the gym, don't know what to do at the gym, or are not comfortable in the gym and prefer the privacy and supervision of this environment. That's not to say it's limited to that,  I know that if Chuck were to sit and learn about my fitness level and goals that he would be able to amp up my workout accordingly. They will design a program that is designed for you. Their motto is "1 Client 1 Trainer 1 Goal."

Fitness Together does have a shower facility, which is nice to know.  And Chuck's son, Wyatt, is the nutritionist that you consult with when you purchase a package.  Personal training packages range from $45-65 per session depending upon how many you commit to.   Give them a call (# above) or email to get your free personal training session and $100 off any training package.  

Kirkland Gym Tour: Element Five Fitness

Element 5 Fitness

11626 Slater Ave NE, Suites 4 & 5, 425-823-4400, Bootcamp Calendar

Element5Fitness 002 

Hidden behind some shops in Totem Lake since August of 2009, you can find  Element 5 Fitness where owners Rommel Acda (photo above) and Belton Lubas are really passionate and educated about getting you in shape. I went in for an early morning hour long workout in the "Strong and Sexy Bootcamp" with about 8 regulars in the program.  The emphasis here is on calisthenics, body weight exercises and interval type training. The workout is different everyday and there's an emphasis on FUN!

After a quick warm-up Rommel paired us up and walked through the program of 6 exercises/stations on the whiteboard.  A quick blow of the whistle and everyone hustled through the 40 second interval at their first station which varied from chest presses to jump squats to bear crawls and even pushing/pulling the weighted 'sled' the length of the warehouse building. When the whistle blew again we had a few seconds to ready ourselves and get weights for the next station. We kept rotating stations every 40 seconds so the movements were pretty varied and quick-paced.  We used all sorts of equipment including kettleballs, the physioball and the BOSU for different parts of our workout. The last 5-10 minutes were spent on floor exercises that we all did together such as sit ups and plank-positioned challenges. I've heard that when weather permits, this class is brought outside and incorporates short runs and obstacle courses which sounds really fun too!

They also offer an 'Underground Strength Program' for fitness warriors. You have to qualify to be in the program and it is targeted towards athletes with a positive attitude that want to boost their performance to the next level.  I haven't been to this type of session, but it sounds a bit like a CrossFit style workout.

The members here are very enthusiastic about the program. I asked regular, Kim Stark, why she is committed to Element 5 Fitness and she said, "I love going there because you feel like you are getting a one-on-one workout, like you would with a personal trainer,  but not paying the price.  I also love the fact that we all push each other and have become friends through our classes.  On the days that you really don’t want to get up and go, it gives you the extra excitement element knowing you have buddies who will be happy to see you and help push you through the time.  I love the fact that they [Rommel and Belton] are so close and such good guys.  They truly care about the well being of their clients and will do whatever it takes to help them find their own success."

My favorite workout apparel store, Lululemon, has selected Element 5 Fitness as their June Club of the Month.  So head in for the Alpha Male Challenge put on by Element 5 in honor of Father's Day- free classes on Sundays @ 9:30 @ Bellevue Square's Lululemon.

Pricing ranges by how often you commit to be there.  It's approx $160/mo for 2x/wk, $240 for 3x/wk, and $299 for unlimited. There's a money back guarantee on results and Element 5 always has a try-before-you-buy policy so there's no reason not to get in there and try this place out! Right now they are offering a $20 one week unlimited bootcamp trial.  Must be activated before the end of June 2010.

Kirkland Gym Tour: CrossFit

Kirkland Crossfit

11200 Kirkland Way,  206-779-5895, Hrs: Class Schedule

Crossfit 003 Crossfit 002

CrossFit is a definitely an ass-kicker.  That about sums it up.  When I pulled up I was secretly a little bit scared because I have some friends that work out there and I knew it would require my focus to power through.  The facility itself has a garage gym type of vibe where you might expect to see Rocky Balboa punching a bag in the back corner.  Instead, I found myself admiring the female dead-lifters with bleeding callouses that were preparing for a competition (which was way cooler).

I'll put a little disclaimer in that I did not do the ON RAMP program which all new members are required to go through so that they are familiar and trained on the movements used in CrossFit training.  But I consider myself a pretty fit person that has been working out consistently for over 20 years and I'll tell you that these workouts are high power/high intensity (and TIMED). There is a different prescribed workout for each day.  On my particular day the protocol was: 21 dumbbell snatches/rt, 21 "L" pull-ups (yes, a pull up w/legs parallel to the ground), 21 dumbbell snatches/left, 21 "L" pull-ups.  I, and my group of about 10, had to do this whole cycle 3 times to complete the workout. The prescribed weight for women on the dumbbell snatch was 25 pounds. So, call me a wuss, but I did 10 pounds. There was one trainer that reviewed and demonstrated the workout, started the stopwatch, and then came around to help anyone with questions or problems with form/technique.

There's definitely a focus on strength here.  I know they often do sprints outside and set-up challenging circuits. Many of the top CrossFit athletes go on to compete in regional and national CrossFit competitions. The cool thing is that there's a sense of team and motivation as you see many of the same people at your workouts and help encourage them to do their best. It's a great spot for an ex-high school or college athlete to get a fix of the old spark of being a competitor. At the end of each class, your time gets put up on the whiteboard and they take a picture of it each day and put it up on their website.  

I know people that rave about CrossFit and see results and go religiously 5 times a week.  Personally, I wonder if the human body was meant to withstand this type of rigor on a regular basis, and I worry a bit about the safety of the everyday Joe that gives it a try.  The rates are listed on their website, but generally range from $145/mo single to $255/mo family for unlimited classes.  There is a loft area with some children's toys where you can put your kids (unsupervised) while you work out. Parking is easy. I think this program is very targeted and intense, but if you've got the eye of the tiger, this is the place for you.

Kirkland Gym Tour: Curves


-->10627 NE 68th St., 425-739-0303, Hrs: M-F 6am-8pm, Sat 8-1 (this is the location I went to)

10052 NE 137th St., 425-821-9296, hours of operation (also in Kirkland)

Curves 002

I was pleasantly surprised when I walked past the Metropolitan Market construction in Houghton and into Curves. The manager, Shari Schimmel, and trainer Helen Campos were more than welcoming and excited to show me their facility. What a fun bunch!  This concept is designed for women, which was evident by the female connections and encouragement between members and staff.   It's a low pressure environment for anyone that may not typically be comfortable in a gym.

But it wasn't completely the cake walk I thought it might be. Curves is designed to give you a full cardio and strength training workout in 30 minutes.  There are 25 stations in a large circle which include 13 machines and 12 recovery boards.  I was given a "Curves Smart" card which remembered my profile and identified me and my desired workout goals at each machine.  I had 30 seconds at each station.  The machines are all a double-positive hydraulic system, so I had to push out AND pull in.  Very sneaky! This sounds easy but the trainer was constantly correcting my speed and form at each station. Every thirty seconds, there was an automated (woman's) voice that says, "change stations now." I kept wondering how this voice didn't make the employees insane all day but for 30 mins it's handy and keeps your workout on time.   So I then moved along to the recovery board which is a padded board where you walk in place to give your muscles time to rest before you go to the next station.  By the time you have done all the stations, you have worked every major muscle group!

There's fun music in the background and when you're done you can go to the computer and see how your workout stacked up to your goals.  You can learn about calories burned, muscle power, progression, and lots of other criteria via your Curves Smart profile.  This workout is prescribed 3 times a week (every other day).  One of their many members is a 90 year old woman that has been there every day since she started back when they opened 7 years ago. Now that's dedication! I noticed many of the members attend with friends and also know the other members and employees all by name.

You'll find two changing rooms and a bathroom there.  Parking might get interesting with the new market next door. Curves also offers free classes once a month on topics like weight management (also free to the public).  Membership is typically $199 initiation and $39+tax/mo. Check here for different promotions they have running each month.

UPDATE: Call Curves at 425-739-0303 between 6/17/10 and 7/31/10 and mention the Kirkland Weblog to receive the corporate rate to join ($69 instead of $199!) Monthly dues would be $39 +tax w/a 12 mo contract.