Ask the doctor @ USN

 FEEL
 Entertainment
 Film / TV
 Books
 Tech
 Travel
 Bodybuilding & training




 
BODYBUILDING & TRAINING

Comparing Virgin Active Classic Melrose Arch & Planet Fitness Wanderers


22 October, 2004

Open a magazine, watch a movie at the theatre, or notice the streetlamp ad campaigns and you will most definitely be bombarded with marketing activity from either Virgin Active or Planet Fitness. Both campaigns are witty, and in rather clever ways poke fun at each other without boiling down to mud slinging or blatant comparative advertising.

While neither of these two gyms will go down the road of comparative advertising, we at Gmax.co.za can take the stand of comparing experiences at each. For the sake of this article we have decided to compare the two gyms flagship premium branches. Out of fairness to both I have trained at both Virgin Active Classic in Melrose Arch and at Planet Fitness The Wanderers, so I can give a detailed account on each.

I hope that this article proves to be informative and finally put to rest which is better for you.

Gym Layout

VC:
What a pleasure. Nicely spaced with an entrance that is both visually appealing and immediately relaxing. Entering the door one is subject to a fantastic view through the large window wall of the highway. Far from the maddening crowd! VC has four levels: basement for parking, ground floor for changing, socializing and swimming, first floor for cardio and weights and second floor for studio workouts, abs and stretching. Maximum use of space once again allows for an easy feel, not having to fight your way past fellow members to get to any of the commitment.

PF:
Interesting entrance. As is the style, Planet Fitness's entrance is modeled like a small mall where you can either buy cat food or gym gear. The entrance hall is slightly cramped with patrons having to squeeze around the front desk to get to the entrance. Once in the gym, one feels as though one has wondered into a Salvidor Dali painting with stairs going up and down, with platforms and multi levels everywhere. The cardio area is somewhat cramped, but once upstairs maximum use of space has been accomplished with great spacing of equipment.

Rating:
VC: 8/10
PF: 6/10

Gym Equipment

VC:
The latest in ergonomically designed gym equipment to maximize muscle use with minimal impact of the joints and bones. VC's treadmills are far superior than PF's offering extra length to promote larger strides and a more comfortable run. A nice touch is the rubberizing of the free weights allowing for an easier grip and noise reduction.

PF:
Generally the same equipment as Virgin Classic, but with one particular extra piece of ab muscle equipment that is fantastic, which VC does not have. Unfortunately the free-weights are not as modern nor as comfortable as VC's. They serve their purpose but without those small touches that would place them in the same category as VC's. The treadmill running platform is also shorter than VC's making it difficult to develop a large stride.

Rating:
VC: 8/10
PF: 7/10

Gym Staff

VC:
Lovely. The VC staff members are very presentable with a fantastic smile and a cheerful greeting, which could be mistaken for welcoming you home. A doorman too is present to offer a friendly greeting and help with any questions or issues. VC is racially representative but discriminatory in terms of looks - it seems only beautiful people are employed at this gym.

PF:
Friendly and appreciative PF's staff members are helpful, but unfortunately lack the sincerity and customer service orientation that VC offers. However the floor staff members are generally more approachable when asking for help with a particular exercise, while at VC one feels as though one is going to get a surprise invoice for doing the same.

Rating:
VC: 8/10
PF: 8/10

Gym Attendance

VC:
In comparison to the standard Virgin Active clubs, Virgin Classic is far more appealing to train at in the mornings and the evenings. With less people taking up all the equipment, you are assured of not waiting too long for a particular piece of equipment. And if you have to wait, you at least have a fantastic view to enjoy! Its also great to know that VC has a membership quota so there will never be too many people in the gym at a particular time, like Virgin Classic Old Eds on a Monday night!

PF:
A fairly new gym, PF Wanderers has yet to reach the stage of over crowding, however peak times can be a bit of a nightmare, especially when waiting for a treadmill. While it is still acceptable for now, as more people join up it is going to start becoming a pain in the neck.

Rating:
VC: 8/10
PF: 7/10

Gym Change Rooms

VC:
With a change room like this, why bother leaving to go and train. The changing rooms are fantastic. Designed to be comfortable and pleasing to the eye, the brown pleather and wood finishing's are great. Multiple TV's keep you up to date with the news on CNN, each locker has its own key, so you do not need to bring your own (bonus), there are always cleaners cleaning (bonus bonus), plenty of showers for everyone, a Jacuzzi, two saunas (one with a TV), a steam room and a chill room WITH fresh fruit, chilled water and reading material. I would much rather use this change room than my own bathroom. FANTASTIC!

PF:
Space is great, and it has all the amenities that are required. The finishing touches do not measure up to VC's – sorry. I must say though what is bloody annoying are those little ad televisions that blare the same crap over and over again. The less time I send in this change room, the better for my temper.

Rating:
VC: 10/10
PF: 5/10

Gym Snack Bar / Relaxation Area

VC:
VC has incorporated a snack bar selling health goods and small meals for those with a appetite before or after gym. The d�cor too blends in with the relaxation feel of the gym sporting leather and suede chairs and couches to relax on. Also included is a large screen television and a variety of books from which to choose. This section also overlooks the pool area and looks out through the large window wall. Prices are reasonably expensive for what you get, but the kitchen does make a killer chicken salad.

PF:
PF really doesn't have a snack bar to speak of nor a relaxation area either. There are some couches that double up as a waiting area and a couple of vending machines to provide snacks and drinks, but these are really not that health orientated. What PF does have is a Newscafe just outside where you can sit and socialize with friends. This also allows for you to buff up nicely and then meet friends in literally a few minutes.

Rating:
VC: 7/10
PF: 5/10

Gym Parking

VC:
VC falls within the precinct of Melrose Arch, so there is plenty of parking available with a tonne of security. VC also allows for a limited amount of vehicles to park in its basement parking area. An hour's free parking is allowed, thereafter a charge is levied and it can be a bit expensive.

PF:
PF's parking area is also large catering for a couple of hundred cars, which is adequate, and there is security all the time. The problem is, is that once you enter those boom gates you are going to have to pay (that is unless you can do a complete workout in 15 minutes). PF also allows for members to purchase monthly parking cards, allowing for a discounted parking rate overall. But still there is no free time, unless you park outside the boom gates, and risk having your car stolen.

Rating:
VC: 7/10
PF: 6/10

Added Benefits and Nice Things

VC:
  • Fresh and clean common towels
  • Common locks
  • 1 hour free parking
  • A killer view
  • Large screen television
  • Extra long treadmills
  • Free water and fruit in the change rooms
  • Free shoe shiner

    PF:
  • A fantastic track around the top of the gym (a nice break from the treadmill)
  • Other shops to buy things at on the way in and out
  • A nifty little machine that measures your body fat percentage for free (although I am not sure how accurate it is)

    Gmax.co.za Overall Rating

    While both gyms serve their purpose, it is obvious that they are catering for two different crowds. Virgin Classic is by far the better gyming experience, but it comes at an additional cost. If you are prepared to pay that extra bit of cash a month for comfort, style, clean towels, a view to kill for, privacy, fresh fruit and to be seen at the in place then Virgin Classic is for you. If you are not too bothered with all these things and you just want to get on with gyming 'no frills' style, then Planet Fitness is for you.

    One thing is for sure, comparing Virgin Classic (the flagship branch of Virgin Active) and Planet Fitness Wanderers (their flagship) is like comparing Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, both really good and assured of keeping the doctor away, but the one just tastes so much sweeter.

    VC:
    8/10

    PF:
    6/10


  •  

          

       


    Copyright 2004 GMax.co.za | Contact Us