Sorry I didn't get a Pentagon Gouge post up last Monday. What can I say, it was a holiday and I was busy picking out pumpkins and enjoying the farm scenery in the country.
I learned something new recently that I wish I had known before I reported aboard. Well, at least before I signed up for my PAC (Pentagon Athletic Club) membership.
If you're an O-4 or above and you work in Crystal City, then I highly recommend getting your gym membership at the Sport & Health Club.
It turns out, the Navy Staff ("OPNAV Staff") has a special agreement with the Sport & Health Club. Members of the OPNAV Staff can join the Sport & Health Club at the same rate as the PAC ($20 per month or $240 per year at the time I wrote this). That's considerably less expensive than the normal Sport & Health Club membership, which is in the ballpark of $90 per month. The special OPNAV Staff membership doesn't get you access to ALL the Sport & Health outlets across the country like a full-blown membership would, but it gets you access to the TWO Sport & Health Club locations in Crystal City (one at the north end and one at the south end).
If you're O-3 or below, then membership at the PAC is free, and I'm all about free. However, if you're O-4 or above and have to pay for your gym membership no matter where you go, then you get much more bang for the buck at the Sport & Health Club.
Unfortunately, I didn't find out about this deal until after I had already paid for a year membership at the PAC. So I just used the PAC for the first year I was working in Crystal City. When my PAC membership recently expired, I switched over to the Sport & Health Club, and WOW what a difference!
What do I like about the Sport & Health Club?
- It's closer to my office.
- It's bigger than the PAC Annex in Crystal City.
- It has racquetball courts (and lots of them).
- It also has tennis courts, but (a) I don't play tennis, and (b) playing tennis costs extra.
- The southern Crystal City location has a swimming pool.
- It has free classes.
- There are six TVs in front of the cardio machines. Each TV is tuned in to a different channel and you can listen to the audio channel for whichever TV you want to listen to. (The PAC Annex has ONE TV on, and the volume is on so you get to listen to it whether you like what's on or not).
- They provide towels (so does the PAC though).
- In the men's locker room, there's both a hot tub and a sauna (there's just a sauna at the PAC Annex).
- I could almost get away with not bringing any bathroom-kit with me. In the showers, they have large dispensers of shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. At the sinks, there are large dispensers of hand-soap, shaving cream, lotion, tissues, and Q-tips. Pretty much all I need is a comb or a brush for my hair.
- They have a nice, modern, digital scale with a zero function and a crisp readout to the tenth of a pound. At the PAC Annex they have this arcane old scale with a HUGE dial that indicates anywhere from 0 to 300 pounds. It will tell you your weight within about 5 to 10 pounds of accuracy.
- The lockers are bigger and have both a hang-up bar and hooks on the side, a shelf up top and a little tray on the door for storing things. Plus, there is a mirror right there in the door of your locker so you can comb your hair without having to walk back over to the bathroom.
- They have rental lockers available. You can pay $20 per month, or $200 for the year if you pay in advance. That way you can just leave your racquetball gear, shower gear, an emergency set of black socks, etc in your own locker. (No rental lockers are available at the PAC Annex).
- You don't need to bring a padlock with you to secure your locker. The lockers each have a little key. At the PAC Annex, you figure out which lockers are empty by trial and error (open one door, nope - somebody's stuff is in there, open another door, nope - somebody's stuff is in there...). At the Sport & Health Club, you can tell which lockers are available because there is a key in the door.
- Added 11/09/2009: There's a little side-room off the men's locker room with an iron and an ironing board in it! That's cool.
So, like I said... If you're on the OPNAV staff working in Crystal City and you're O-4 or above, then I recommend going to the Sport & Health Club instead of the PAC Annex.