Cardinal Fitness

Cardinal Fitness

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Get Buff On the Cheap at Cardinal Fitness!

Sep 7, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Amazing equipment, low price.

Cons:No frills.

The Bottom Line: I miss my gym!


Cardinal Fitness appears to be taking over the Midwest. I’ve seen dozens of branches spring up all around my part of Indiana, and new ones are opening every day. The hubby and I were extremely happy members of Cardinal’s South Bend branch for six months. More than two months after our move to a new city, I still miss that gym. Cardinal was a perfect fit for my lifestyle and it may be for yours as well.

The Concept
This health club chain stresses convenience and affordability. All the branches I have seen provide a tremendous number of cardio machines and a respectable amount of weight equipment in a basic warehouse setting. Membership costs just $19.95 per month for and individual and $31.95 for a couple, no matter where you join. Don’t expect aerobics classes, massage treatments, or spa services. Cardinal is for busy folks who want to pop in for a quick workout and then go on with life.

Equipment
My husband and I were extremely impressed by the quantity of cardio machines available at our Cardinal branch. There were literally dozens of treadmills, stair climbers, upright and recumbent stationary bikes, and elliptical machines. Nearly all were manufactured by Precor, my own fitness company of choice. I never waited so much as a minute to use any type of cardio machine, no matter what time I showed up.

Cardinal’s weight equipment is definitely sufficient for the fitness needs of most folks. In addition to many easy-to-use weight machines for all body parts, our branch had a large collection of free weights. My husband, who is a bit more hardcore on the weights with me, complained repeatedly about the lack of an effective calf machine. For the most part, though, we were both relatively pleased with the selection of weights. I personally was thrilled to find multiples of the lighter weights I use for my upper body, which allowed me to carry a set around with me for the duration of my workout without ticking anyone off. The weight area did tend to get more crowded than the cardio area, but it never became unbearable enough to drive me away.

My favorite thing about working out at Cardinal was the fact that every item I used during my six month membership in peak condition. Practically every single cardio or weight machine looked like it had barely been used. I don’t remember seeing a single out-of-order sign during my time at Cardinal. Since this is a relatively new chain, I imagine this is the case at most branches.

Facilities
Our branch of Cardinal Fitness did have two small locker rooms. The women’s offered a couple of toilets, a mirror, and two small showers. I don’t recall seeing any free toiletries like more upscale gyms tend to offer, and members are asked to bring their own towels. Since the gym was only a quarter mile from my apartment I never used the shower facilities during my membership. I did use the lockers to store my coat at times. Members must bring their own locks if they want to use them, but I always just shoved my stuff in an unlocked locker and never had a problem.

For the convenience of its members, Cardinal also offers a small “Kid’s Room” with childcare for a relatively low per-month fee. The room doesn’t have much besides coloring books and a few toys, but the staff do keep the little one busy while dad/mom gets buff. A few Cardinal branches offer tanning beds, but ours didn’t.

Staff and Stuff
The employees at our club were always reasonably friendly. I was lucky enough to be given member number 𤃒’, so I quickly became known for that at the front desk. Cardinal Fitness does offer a staff of personal trainers who provide training sessions for a fee. They sometimes run a special where the first consultation is free, so be on the lookout. Sometimes the trainers were nice enough to offer me free workout tips during my weight-lifting sessions.

My only complaint about my entire Cardinal Experience regards towels. Machines are to be wiped down after use with small, dishcloth-sized towels that are stored in buckets with spray bottles of cleanser. I’m not a germophobe by any means, but I would certainly like to have my own towel or disposable cloth rather than using a mostly-dirty towel that has already been used to wipe off other people’s sweat. Additionally, the towels often got concentrated in a bucket at one end of the facility, requiring me to cross the entire length of the gym in order to do my duty and wipe my treadmill clean. Low-budget or no, Cardinal should spring for some better sanitation technique.

Is Cardinal Fitness For You?
This health club chain is certainly not for everyone. If you love aerobics classes or other forms of group exercise, you won’t get that there. Cardinal’s setup doesn’t really invite congregating or socializing, so I think that a different type of gym would be a better choice for those hoping to get to know their fellow members. Also, those brand new to exercise may be daunted by the oceans of machines all combined in one large room. Cardinal probably isn’t as user friendly to the workout novice as a Curves-style establishment.

I think Cardinal is ideal for the veteran exerciser who basically knows his/her way around a gym and wants to get a good, hard workout on high-quality machinery. The large number of available machines makes this gym a good pick for someone who has a limited amount of time to work out and wants to make the most of it.

Hours of operation at most Cardinal locations are from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Overall…
I loved nearly everything about working out at Cardinal Fitness. This health club chain provides a lot of bang for your buck. If you are a no-frills exerciser who doesn’t get particularly excited about yoga lessons or a smoothie bar, Cardinal may just be the club for you too.


Recommend this product? Yes

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