I never really liked gyms before I became a mother but once I became a mother, I needed to have a gym so I can workout. There are a few reasons for this. My body changed once I became a mother. I rarely had trouble with my weight before my children but after giving birth I had weight issues. I also lost a lot of freedom in terms of having the time and the leisure to just do things when I please, so routine became very important. While self-care is important, my children became the most important things in the world to me, and I had to find a way to make sure that they were well taken care of while I take care of me.
I started a fitness blog to keep myself accountable but I decided to post this review of East Bay gyms here on my personal blog. I had posted an article about gym child care in general but this is a bit more specific. Those who know me might wonder why I do not post this to Yelp. While I do enjoy posting reviews on Yelp, it felt to me to be less appropriate a place for this kind of a post because I didn’t become a member at all the gyms I have checked out and tried, though I did post a review for the place I did end up at and are quite happy with. Secondly Yelp has started to feel less like a good place for review with their filtered reviews. Although given my Yelp status it is not too likely that my reviews will get filtered out, I felt that my experience with the gyms is more personal so my personal blog would be the best place to post it.
So here is a run down of all the gyms I have checked out and my thoughts on their facility with the point of view from a mother with young children, focused on child care facilities:
24 Hour Fitness
This is obviously the most popular of all gyms and they have different levels of gyms from”Active” to “Super Sport.” I actually checked out several different 24 Hour Fitness locations in the East Bay. Obviously the Super Sport tends to have more features like swimming pool, steam, and sauna, but the place in general is not kid-friendly because other than the child care room. Kids are not allowed anywhere else. Obviously kids should not be on the fitness floor, but I found the check in and check out process a bit painful since only one parent is allowed to be checking in or checking out their kids at one time. This can be a major issue when children are acclimating to the new environment. In one instance, I was called in after 5 minutes on the machine because my younger child was crying. My 3 year old was playing happily, so I left him alone, but I found myself stuck with nowhere to go. The only place for me to be was right outside the child care room. There was no cafe or lounge to hang out and be at. I could take my child for a walk in the parking lot, but that is obviously not desirable for safety reasons. The childcare room itself was adequate and even equipped with with child-sized toilets and a changing table room, but the room is one big room with all ages lumped together. They do mind the staff to children ratio but the staff often are not tending to the children but talking amongst themselves. I had reasons to suspect that they don’t deal with kids too well since I was called in after merely 5 minutes away.
The information on Bally’s website is quite limited, so you actually have to call each club and go check it out for more information. There are not too many Bally’s located in East Bay, but the child care facility is somewhat limited compared to the others in terms of hours of availability. Much like Bay-O-Vista, child care is only offered 8am to 1pm, then 4:30pm to 9pm. Like ClubOne, you have to call and make a reservation. The child to staff ration is 12:1, so it is adequate. Bally’s doesn’t necessarily really have a pool facility in most of its locations in the East Bay, with the exception of the location in San Leandro.
Bay-O-Vista Swim and Tennis Club
Bay-O-Vista is the first gym with child care I had put joined as a new mother. I didn’t know anything back then, but we did join for the nice pool facility, which included a kids pool. My son loves to swim, so that was a major reason for us to join. My major gripe with the place has to do with the inadequate child care — bad staff to children ratio, general safety and cleanliness of the child care room, and lack of policy. Please read my Yelp review for more details.
ClubOne in Oakland City Center was recommended to me as one of the better places with child care. That may be true, but the club’s membership system is clearly designed for singles and couples. There is no family membership offered and the child care there is expensive, at $4 per hour per kid. On top of that, you have to make a reservation the day before you show up to workout at the gym. What is good is that they have excellent staff to children ratios, and “Playcare” offers the children activities, not just a place to hang while you work out. I have been told by acquaintances that their child care for young toddlers is excellent, but it was too far away from where I live to actually be useful especially with all the reservation requirements. We did not join, but it might work really well for someone who work and live close to Oakland.
There are several ClubSport out there, and most of them are affiliated with each other, but not all are. ClubSport San Ramon is independent of ClubSport in Fremont, Pleasanton, and Walnut Creek. ClubSport in Fremont, Pleasanton, and Walnut Creek are owned by Leisure Sports, Inc.
Each ClubSport is slightly different in layout in terms of the child care room. The facility is like a spa and geared toward moms, and Kids World takes children ages 6 weeks and up. Some clubs’ kids activities are geared toward ages 7 or older, but some do have activities for younger kids as well. Generally the child care is more organized, and children are lead through productive activities as well as allowed free play.
ClubSport San Ramon
I joined ClubSport San Ramon as a member and my children and I have been very happy at this facility. As I have previously mentioned, this facility is independent of the other ClubSports in the area, so the membership isn’t good anywhere else. The cost of membership is a lot like the other ClubSport facilities, but I found the child care staff and facilities to be friendly to the younger children. In fact, they have many activities and classes for children ages 3 and up. There is a baby room, a bigger room for children ages 1 to 6, and another room for children ages 7 and older. There is an entrance for child care, which helps to cut the chaos and makes it safer when you are juggling multiple children. If you want to read more detailed review of ClubSport San Ramon, check out my Yelp post.
If you have any gyms that have great child care, please share it with me!