Talwalkars Gym, Vashi Branch
Caveat: The review you are about to read is bound by severe limitations since:
I am not familiar with other gyms or other branches of Talwalkars.
So the concerns expressed here are restricted to the Vashi branch. I can't offer personal comparisons with other gyms in terms of price or otherwise. You are in for some hear-say though.
Secondly, I am not an expert by way of judging gym equipment.
All I can say is that it appears to be in order and doesn't lack maintenance. Repairs are also prompt.
Having said my piece, I leave to read on at your own risk.
Talwalkars offers training in weights, cardio vascular exercises using the treadmill etc.; coaching for floor exercises and an hour of aerobics on alternate evenings; massage, steam and sauna facilities. There are different packages based on one's requirements for different lengths of time. There is a lifetime membership option as well.
The services of a dietician are included for the weight loss or gain (yup, even I was amused) packages.
A physiotherapist and doctor are present for addressing any physical pain or injury caused during the work-out.
The purpose of joining could be general fitness, gaining/losing weight and increasing the height (teenagers). One can opt for personalised exercise programs with a dedicated instructor, or, a general one where any of the gym instructors help with your workout regimen.
Now you are probably wondering, are the results any good?
I feel it depends on how strictly a person adheres to the work out routine, diet and other advice offered. Frankly, if my experience wasn't good I wouldn't be taking the effort to talk about it.
The instructors are helpful and friendly. They prepare separate exercise cards for each individual every month. If one has opted for a PEP then, the chart is prepared by him/her.
They let you work out by yourself after demonstrating the exercises and making sure you get a hang of it. PEPs are present with the individual throughout the session. For the rest, trainers may have to leave you to supervise other people during the same time. The difference is exactly like private classroom coaching and having a one-to-one private coach.
If one opts for a personal trainer, then the timings for the work out are fixed. Else one can come in anytime during gym hours from Monday to Saturday.
The 5.30 am to 10.00 pm gym timings are extremely convenient. With the only hitch being a separate 10.00 am to 5 pm ''ladies'' slot, since the gym area is common for both sexes at the moment.
The premises are clean, air conditioned and maintained decently. However, the ladies changing room has been treated in a step-motherly fashion with no AC, a single shower and steam room for only two. (This is in comparison to the one for guys.)
The facilities are neat, but nothing to boast of.
Lockers are available for an extra fee. There is provision for keeping shoes and clothes during the workout. This is a temporary arrangement and one can't leave shoes etc. lying in the changing room unless it is in a locker.
A small but nagging issue is the telephone, which at 5 bucks a call, is a little too steep. A one buck public phone in the gym would make an appreciable difference to me.
From time to time, Talwalkars organises different activities to keep the interest going and motivate members.
Over the past two months enough has been done to merit a mention:
Arm wrestling competition with prizes for the winners.
Aerobics style warm ups were introduced. Seeing the interest it generated they promptly started one hour aerobics sessions on alternate days.
Guest lectures by body building champions who were/are title holders like a Mr. India etc.
Now we come to the cons bit. While not calling it cons, I would like to see this branch do away with certain shortcomings by:
1) Creating separate work out areas and massage rooms for both sexes. This will even help reduce the over-crowding problem during peak hours.
2) Having a full-time physiotherapist instead of part-time one.
3) Increasing equipment or controlling number of patrons during peak hours to avoid waiting time at the machines.
4) Playing appropriate music at all times at a controlled decibel level. I understand that tastes differ. But, senti love songs and mush aren't exactly conducive to sweating it out in a gym!
5) Allowing an installment based payment plan.
Yes. Talwalkars is a pricey joint unless you take advantage of their discount packages announced from time to time. Pricing is based entirely on the nature of the package and duration.
However, for a rough idea. My package costs Rs. 11,000 for a year -- Rs. 10,700 for the package and Rs. 300 towards admission fees -- i.e. about Rs. 900 a month.
Gracilite in Vashi charges round Rs. 1000 a month for a similar package. You can also go to gyms that charge Rs. 500 a month but don't offer certain facilities, like an AC. Then again you could go to places that charges just Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 a month for using the equipment but don't have trainers.
All things considered Talwalkars seemed like the best bet for my money, time and effort. If you come across an equally good (if not better) and cheaper alternative, I am all ears :-)