Yes, I am sure many of you saw the title and automatically thought–yeah...that's a no from me.

I have had my Equinox gym membership for over 3 years now (with a 5 month long hiatus...will get to that later). The price is insane, I am very well aware, but it is so worth it. Not only is my location less than a mile away from my house but it truly has the best amenities, including an Earth Bar, locker rooms/showers stocked with Kiehl's products, a steam room, and unlimited, eucalyptus-scented towels (plus a spa and a boutique). 

How It Began For Me

I originally signed up for my Equinox membership as soon as I graduated high school. The first day I walked into #EQX, I was mesmerized by the eucalyptus smell and the energy in this gym. One of the great perks about signing up for an Equinox membership is that you get two free personal training sessions. I got assigned to Katy. I automatically clicked with her because we are both Japanese. Katy graduated from UC Berkeley and she is a certified nutritionist. The first training session is actually a sit-down session, where Katy and I discussed my eating habits, my body type, and what exercises I am capable of doing. She also measured my body fat and recorded my weight, and a breakdown of where I carry fat in my body. It was extremely personal, intimidating, and motivating. I told her my goals, and she said with my body type, I cannot gain muscle easily. In order to see any results, I would have to eat a carb-free diet. Sounded like torture, and a definite no. The next training session was where the hard work was going to start. We did a warmup, circuit training, and stretching within the span of an hour. Let me tell you, I. was. winded. I never experienced lifting weights, doing pushups, or using machines before. I was shocked at how out of shape I was. I never had a gym membership before because I played competitive soccer for 10 years and quit when I was 15. I then joined the long-distance track team at my high school for 3 years (to get out of PE, but hey, we ran 8 miles a day). But, throughout the end of high school, I truly was not in good shape. My first training session intimidated me and scared me from the weight section of the gym...for 2 years. 

Starting To Get There

For a year, I basically went to the gym 2-3 times a week. Not much considering the monthly price tag. My gym routine consisted of stretching for 10 minutes, going on the elliptical for 45 minutes, and going to the steam room for 15 minutes. Maybe grabbed a protein shake from Earth Bar. As you could imagine, I was not having any results. Across from all of the bikes, ellipticals, treadmills, Stairmasters, and other cardio machines was the Main Studio. No matter what time of the day I went to the gym, there was always a crowded class happening. I was intrigued, but too scared to try anything. It seemed like everyone in there was an expert and a pro, and I never imagined myself being in there. But, one day, my older sister and I decided to try out a class called Cardio Kickboxing. It involved zero weights and was 60 minutes. We walked in not knowing what to expect, but we were horrible! As soon as the music started playing, the instructor was super intense and everyone in the class had the kickboxing moves memorized like a specialized dance routine. My experience consisted of me cracking up the entire time while simultaneously being out of breath, trying to keep up. But, I was not frustrated at my lack of skills because the instructor, Michael, noticed my struggling and coached my sister and I throughout the class. My trainer, Katy, noticed that I took the class, and said that if you do each move correctly, you can burn up to 600 calories! With Katy's comment and Michael's patience, I was excited to come back to this class on a weekly basis. 

Found a Routine...For Now

I actually ended up going to Cardio Kick 3x/week, every week for over a year. I became a regular, and my spot was in the front every single class. I knew the moves by heart, and could do it in my sleep. That was basically my gym routine, with the occasional, additional workout once a week on the elliptical with minimal, pretty much zero weights. Body weight was pretty much the same, and I looked the same. The only thing different was that my endurance was better. I didn't get tired as easily as before. I was convinced I was in great shape, and that still was not the case. I still viewed my gym membership as being way too overpriced, but I convinced myself it was worth it.

The Beginning of Something Great

Last summer was where my true fitness journey really began. My sister, Tiffany, and I decided to start going to more classes. We wanted to lose weight and diet too. So, we finally took Katy's advice and cut out carbs for 3 months. Of course we had the occasional cheat meals, but we basically cut out the bad carbs we ate on a daily basis: bread, rice, and pasta. We started doing at least 4 classes a week, and even moved up to 6 classes a week, by doing back-to-back classes. We branched out and the classes we went to were HIIT classes. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. These classes involve both weights and cardio. This was my first time lifting weights 4x/week. And cutting out carbs. I slowly started seeing results. But, by the end of the summer, I was hooked to the gym. I was still not at my goal weight, but I was making progress and I felt strong. I felt more confident and healthier. But after 3 months of actually enjoying the gym, I had to end my gym membership.

EQX, I Miss You

Last fall, I was about to enter my junior year at USC. I am an LA native, and live in Marina del Rey. I previously commuted to USC by car because I'm from LA, and us LA peeps drive everywhere. A 30 minute commute is not that bad. But, I wanted to live near campus and be more involved with dat #trojanlife. I moved into an apartment across the street from school and was stuck with no car and 3 strangers to live with. There was a newly renovated gym, but of course it was no different than any typical, tiny apartment complex gym. I am just gonna be straightforward. I became depressed with my new environment, especially knowing my house was a 30 minute drive away. I started eating terribly and only stepped foot in the gym once. I am talkin' finishing a whole bag of a family-sized bag of Doritos and a bucket of mini Trader Joe's Cookies within the span of a week. Although I enrolled myself into 2 PE classes for extra unit credit, I was not being fit or getting enough exercise, and certainly not enough to compensate with my new eating habits. All of my summer progress (not much, but still) had vanished and my body and health was being set back even further. I gained weight and had zero motivation. I missed home, and I missed the gym.

Honey, I'm Home

As soon as the semester ended, my 5 month lease was up, and I moved the eff out of there. The day I finished moving out, I called up Equinox and signed up for my gym membership again. I knew I was bigger, jigglier, and not in any shape at all. But, I was so excited to resume my fitness journey again. I had to start slow. Even though my mind was capable of completing at least 4 classes a week, my body wasn't. After the holidays, I started up my carb-free diet again. It is not extreme as it sounds, because I would probably have a cheat meal a week. But, I was determined to stick to it as best as I could for 3 months. Soon enough, I was back to my gym schedule and completing 2 classes a night, no problem. Again, I was filled with energy and feeling my body changing. Within this past spring semester, I lost 15 lbs. With the metabolic conditioning classes such as Metcon3, 4x4, and Pure Strength, I was gaining muscle and confidence. I still am. 

Tell Me What To Do

Now that I have been back home for almost a year after my traumatic apartment experience (I have some insane stories about crazy roommates), I 100000% believe that my Equinox gym membership is so worth it. I mean it is worth every penny. There are classes all day, everyday. There is a Main Studio, a cycling studio, a yoga studio, and a Pilates studio. And of course a cardio section and a weight section, with top-notch machines and the newest equipment on the market. There is a niche for everyone. As mentioned before, I was a soccer player for 10 years, and a pretty slow yet steady track runner for 3 years. I have always been under instruction as an athlete, which is how I learn and listen and do what I am supposed to do. Basically, I need someone to tell me what to do. This is why I am a firm believer in taking classes in order to see results, feel good, and be proud of the work you do in the gym. I need someone to yell at me and be my personal trainer and an instructor all in one. I love the feeling of lifting weights and seeing my muscles work, and sweating out my stress with cardio. There is also a sense of community, and it feels amazing to finish a workout along with 30 others who experienced exactly what you did. It is not just a class, it is an experience. 

I'll keep the ending as short and sweet as I can. I would recommend an Equinox gym membership to anyone who can comfortably afford it. I know it is crazy expensive, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to go to this gym. But, once you commit, you will not regret it. From the eucalyptus scent floating amidst the sweat, the unlimited towels, the Kiehl's products (which I will use heaps and heaps of...hello I am paying for it! I can use as much grapefruit body wash as I want), the steam room, and the other amenities, this gym is so worth it. There are also staff members called "Maintenance" who are constantly cleaning and sanitizing the gym to make sure your experience is spotless and perfect, as well as fixing the machines. Go up to any trainer on the floor with a blue shirt and they can teach you how to use a machine. Find a handful of classes that work around your busy life schedule, starting from 6am to 8pm. I know other fitness studios/gyms may have what you need for a workout, but they do not have what you need outside of it, meaning the amenities. All in all, I spend $200 a month on my gym membership, and I have zero regrets about it. I am forever going to continue my fitness journey and work towards my goals, and I have Equinox to thank for that.