I like to "move it, move it" as much as the next supermodel. There is nothing better than to get your endorphin motor runnin with an hour on an elliptical or five minutes sprinting/jogging/lumbering/dying/falling off a treadmill while others working out nearby worry that your beet-red color and pronounced wheezing indicates the beginning of a myocardial infarction and they might have to lip lock you and perform CPR but instead will probably just call 8-1-1, it's cheaper.

One of the spots I used to frequently frequent before my obsession with exercise was replaced by an obsession with cake was Anytime Fitness, at 1925 Grand in West Des Moines. I had not visited there in over a year when I visited there last week and I was very interested to see how things had changed (both the facility and my weight). I remembered it being clean and well organized, and the owner (at that time) was friendly and very committed to providing a great place for us locals to hang out, work out and wear ourselves out.


The most important thing I want in my health club (besides a macaroni and cheese dispenser) is a clean bathroom and workout area and a facility that is well organized and free of floor clutter. Paul and Tasha Booth are the new owners and they have done a lovely job delivering on all counts.


There is more equipment and it is better organized than before, which creates better spacing for free weights and weight machines. The entire workout area looked nearly pristine and smelled neutral instead of like a herd of wet dogs.  The wi-fi password and (expanded) staff hours were clearly posted. The place was well lit. And their scales had me five pounds lighter than the scales I use in my bathroom at home that are now in the garbage can by the curb. Score!

Speaking of which, the garbage cans in the bathrooms are the only negative in an otherwise positive review.  The dirty paper towel pile in one of the cans was spilling onto the floor, and the can itself was filthy. The others were from a half to three-quarters full of workout goo - and it was 12:05 pm when I popped in. So either the entire Iowa State Cyclone Marching Band had been in that morning to do crunches or the cans had simply not been attended to in several days.


Cleanliness = safety and security. We often feel less safe and jump to conclusions when things aren't (W)right, fair or not. If the garbage hasn't been emptied, what else hasn't been attended to? We call it "customer fatigue" in coach-speak. It builds inside us from the things that look, feel, sound and smell out of place. It steals some part of our happiness. And since happy people spend more money (and unhappy people spend less), it ultimately has an impact on a business's bottom line.

The one other VERY minor concern is the fluorescent lights reflecting down and creating glare on the pages of the magazine I was trying to read while trying to distract myself from not hearing how much my breathing sounded like an asthmatic Darth Vader.


Okay, maybe I'm reaching a bit on the glare issue. Okay, a lot. But I did get a slight paper cut trying to adjust the horizontal plane of my Sports Illustrated for better readability.

I secret shopped a half-dozen Des Moines area health clubs many moons ago and wrote of my shenanigans in a huffing and puffing-ton post. The overriding theme then was the happy employee interaction, or sometimes lack thereof, and how that impacted the overall experience.

Anytime Fitness (and others like her) brilliantly bypasses all of that warm squishy people stuff. It removes the $9 an hour ambivalent employee and replaces him/her with  convenience and anonymity, like the self check-out lane at Wal-Mart. Wanna do squats at 3am? Wanna lay down until the thought passes? Anytime Fitness is there for us, to move it, move it - or not - 24/7.

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