After yesterdays post, I rang up the local gym, Fitness Institute, and spoke with a chap named Brian.

Despite the gym closing at 11pm and my current shift ending at 9:30, it still is plenty of time to get over there and do 5x5s three days a week.

When I got there, it was exactly the opposite of my experience with Goodlife earlier in the day; Brian was patient and just wanted to chat. Instead of pushing the trainers and classes on me, he asked what my goals were and worked towards a general understanding of what my knowledge level was and what I was looking for. After clearly understanding what I was after, he showed me the gym.

I was amazed.

I was there at about 9:30, as that’s the time that I plan to be working out for the most part, and the place was perfectly populated. There were enough people around so it didn’t feel like I had broken in to the building to work out and it was sparse enough that there was no waiting for the equipment.

The program that I’m on now uses primarily the squat/power rack and the bench press. In stark contrast to Goodlife’s very small free weight area and crowded, basic, SINGLE squat rack, Fitness Institute has three racks including one with a raised lifting platform and bump plates (for dropping the bar on cleans, etc). Underground parking is included as well, which is a big benefit.

Though the price was slightly more than Goodlife ($67 tax in), and yes, there was still a contract, it was much less intimidating and Brian modified the contract enough with my concerns to make me happy.

After seeing the facilities (which, incidentally also include squash courts, a pool with the higher membership levels, and numerous other amenities that most gyms charge extra for) I signed up and had the chance to do my first session with barbells in several years.

I wasn’t disappointed with myself nor the routine. There is enough challenge in this program that I feel muscles that I haven’t used in a long time, yet all the work I’ve done at home has GREATLY increased my stabilizers and my ability to lift.

Last night was just about finding the right weight to be working at, and I ended up lifting much more than I expected with the bench press, the barbell rows gave me a clear picture that this is my weakest area, and the mother of all, the squat, is pretty much exactly where I expected it to be. I would imagine it will increase quite quickly (I also think I’ll be throwing the leg press in for a while even though it is somewhat frowned upon, I think it will be helpful for regaining leg power at the beginning).

Overall, happy so far and hopefully will continue to be so as I get to know the gym.