Hip & Healthy: Blink — Gym on a Slim Budget

There are many things I consider when I look into joining a gym: location, amenities, classes, equipment, TVs, and of course, cost. I’ve been at my current gym for a while now, so I have started to consider other options.  A friend recently mentioned a gym in my neighborhood I had never heard of Blink.

I figured it was a fancy boutique gym. I was curious, so I took a look at the website and was shocked to find out that the gym monthly membership fee was only $20 a month.  How was that possible?  What was the catch? Can a business even pay its rent for that amount?  I was equally surprised to learn that Blink is owned by Equinox.  I had to see it for myself.

Upon arriving at Blink I was greeted warmly at the front desk by Shawn who was happy to give me a tour. No paperwork, no leaving my ID, no being stalked by representatives, I just breezed through the door. The first thing he pointed out was quick stash lockers right near the entrance.  These would be perfect on the days I just want to drop my bag or wallet, keys and phone and hit the machines without having to waste time going to the locker room.

I wondered what type of equipment Blink would have and was surprised that there were two large cardio areas with tons of brand new Life Fitness bikes, elliptical and treadmills, each with its own TV and every channel that Time Warner offers.

Due to the high number of machines – 17,000 square feet of equipment to be exact -- there was no wait to get a machine, even at the busy after-work hour. One of the things I really liked was the sprint track along the side of the gym that could be used for timed workouts. There were also two medium-sized strength sections and a stretching area to round out the facilities.

So what was missing?  Well, studio rooms because Blink offers no classes. The theory behind Blink is the best of the basics. They focus on what you really need to get in shape. They explained to me that they believe working out is a right, not a privilege, and they want to make fitness accessible to everyone.

Brand new machines, a well-trained staff and a friendly, clean workout environment are what Blink offers. You won’t find pools, high end bath products, saunas or eucalyptus-scented towels, but the modest locker room has what you need: lockers, mirrors and showers. I realized I never used the saunas or the pool at my own gym.

I also take 95 percent of my fitness classes outside the gym in boutique studios. I thought about how many more of my beloved barre and spinning classes I could afford if I had a cheaper gym membership.

You also won't find personal trainers at Blink, which is actually something many members prefer. Blink may implement a personal training model that fits its philosophy, but you’ll never have trainers accosting you at machines trying to sell you exorbitantly priced packages. Instead, you’ll find a variety of fitness menus available at the front desk as well as in the stretching areas. It’s more of a self-guided personal training approach.

Overall, I was really impressed with Blink, which only debuted in January. This new venture from Equinox seems to be succeeding and has really nailed why most people really join a gym.  The cardio and strength areas are impressive, and while the stretching area may be a little small for the size of the gym, it was definitely adequate.

How much you value classes and amenities is a personal decision. I’ve learned that those things aren’t what I really use at my gym. While Blink may meet your fitness needs, it may not meet your geographical needs. There is only one studio currently in Manhattan, in NoHo.

Still, I think this new fitness concept is just what the city needs and I hope to see more Blinks popping up soon.

Melissa is a NYC resident and workout junkie. She keeps motivated to stay fit and active by trying out new workout classes, signing up for races, and keeping an eye out for a fun fitness challenge. She hopes to complete the New York City Marathon for the second time in 2011. Read more about her healthy adventures in New York City at her blog fitnessnyc.wordpress.com.

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