Hi to all,
Accidentally discovered this forum. I was actually born and sort of grew up in Taiwan but migrated to North America 20 years ago. Since then I only returned to Taiwan once in 2007.
I was a member of 24 Hour Fitness in San Francisco for 10 years and I've used all their clubs in SF, among them the Van Ness @ Post club the one I most frequented. I was also a member of Bally Total Fitness (also in SF) from 2006-2007 which also allowed me to use Crunch at the time.
After 2006, I moved to Toronto and my Bally membership allowed me to use quite a few local gyms besides the Bally gym in Toronto. But that privilege ended in 2007 and those local gyms raised heir membership so that's the end of my bally membership, also the time I moved to Vancouver.
When with 24HF in SF, I paid more in the first 2 years (already forgot how much) and after that $12/month for life. Back then, I found them not that great (however, this POV has been changed since I moved to Canada and revisited Taiwan in 2007). I love the fact they have so many locations and that their membership fees were so affordable. But the quality of their customer service was just a passing C, some worse. The rest room at the Van Ness club can be a mess during the week and a HUGE mess during weekend. The lockers in the locker room were old and lots of them have been pried open before. And things got stolen more often than it should. That actually happened to me once. When I reported this incident to the front desk, their staff was totally obnoxious, responding to me like a bureaucrat official from a corrupt country with an attitude of "I've seen this a hundred times. It's not my problem! What the F*** do you want me to do?" But they do have a very large gym facility with lots of equipments, lots of space, which I loved and I also liked the constituents of members at that club.
Someone in this thread mentioned Crunch was the best gym s/he has seen. I'm not sure I would say that myself simply because my experiences with them in SF was just a good gym but nothing particular really impressed me. The front desk staff (especially males) were often times kind of stuck up. Their equipments were not as extensive as the 24HF at Van Ness and their space is smaller than theirs, too (which is not a big deal but just my personal preference). But I understand everyone has one's own idea of what's considered the best gym.
When it comes to the local gyms in Toronto, there were actually 1 or 2 clubs that were very nice in terms of its extra amenities in the locker room, besides their large workout space and extensive equipments. Already forgot the names of those clubs. I was still paying Bally membership fees then and it was around $30+/month (can't remember exact amount). After Bally withdrew their association with those Canadian clubs, just like most things in Canada (compared to the US), you now have to pay more for the same thing.
But Bally gave me the hardest time to get out of contract after I moved to Vancouver where I have no access to Bally gym. 24HF did not do that to me when I cancelled my membership. So beware!
I just visited SF this year and revisited 24 Hour Fitness. They have membership for short term visitors and I paid $39/month. What really impressed me was the changes at the Van Ness club. There have been two different mangers since I left and they're now actually pretty high in customer service and the renovated lockers in the locker room look new, nice and big. It's clean including the restroom. But one thing about the restroom really bugs me. They decided to go green and minimized the use of papers, so you cannot find any papers in the restroom, except toilet papers in the stalls. But their faucets are still those old fashioned ones which require you to use hand to manually turn them on / off. Imagine yourself after finishing your business in the toilet stall, turning on the faucet at the sink with your still "contaminated" hand, which means everything on your not-yet-washed hands will also get to the faucet, then washing your hands with soap, and then use your clean hand to touch that same faucet again to turn it off. Got the picture? And you don't just pick up everything you left on that faucet with your "unwashed" hand previously but also everything everybody else did before you. So when people try to go green but without taking necessary measures to make it reasonable is just being irresponsible.
Visiting Taipei in 2007 was an exciting and also educating experience to me. Taiwan has changed so much. I saw a 7 day free trial on California Club web site so i decided to check it out. The first time I went there (can't remember the location), one guy took me inside the gym, sat me down. After that, a guy looked maybe in his 30's started to "talk" to me with a stern face. And throughout that "talk", he was acting like a boss / security personnel and treated me like I was going to steal something from the gym, nothing about the gym stuff, no to mention the 7 day free trial. I left feeling insulted.
A couple weeks later, I mustered up courage and went to another location. This time was a woman. Finally we were on topic of gym membership. But she totally ignored the 7 day free trial ad in their web site and continued to sell me different memberships, which all cost MUCH MUCH more than any memberships I've heard of in N America. Can't remember the $# she quoted me but all I remembered was those #s totally stunned me. I tried to remind her I really just wanted to try it out first. So she brought her manager to me. And this manager continued to forcibly sell me memberships, and tactfully changed the fee amount and length of term to try to get me buy. It was a long, extremely uncomfortable "talk". I felt like a criminal been interrogated and in the end I was actually been forced into a one week membership, and i don''t remember how much I paid.
This was not the end of it. Near the end of the one week, they said they would give me a free personal training session since it's included in my membership. To make a long story short, when that personal trainer found out I wasn't buying any PT sessions, he got his manager to continue "questioning" me immediately following his own, another long, uncomfortable "questioning" like a criminal been interrogated.
I left that gym horrified thinking I'd never ever go back to that gym again!
After all these experiences, I have to say that 24 HF really is the best gym because it offers so many locations (convenience) and sets its fees affordable to just about anyone. They may or may not have the best facilities / equipments / staff, but they're at least okay, some great. From this thread, it sounds like Taiwan still somewhat aristocrat-ize gym membership, which I personally think will change over time - or at least I hope it will.
I now know little about Taiwan, and from reading this thread, it seems many gyms in Taiwan are still running their business similar to the way California did. It would be disappointing if that is true. But it also appears to me that Taipei Gym and Tai-Da Gym may be good choices. Can anyone share with me your experiences with them if you have any? And are there any other good gyms in Taipei that you know of?
I'm moving back to Taiwan soon and I was actually considering working for a gym. When first learning World Gym took over California, I was excited because I thought being an US gym chain, World Gym would not be like California and it'll be just like another gym in the USA. But from reading this thread, I think I may be having an unilateral wishful thinking on this one. Am I? Can anyone share your World Gym experiences with me and how much you're paying?
Speaking of working for a gym, I'm not a certified PT, can't be a sales guy since I don't know anybody there and after that all is left is just the front desk. I'm wondering how much a front desk staffer in a gym in Taipei can make? Probably not much.
Sorry for rambling so long. I'm really excited and nervous at the same time about moving back to Taiwan. It's almost like moving to a new country, so familiar but yet so distant from me. It feels like deja vous! Good thing I still speak fluent Mandarin, minus all the new language / slang evolved since I left.