Finding a new place to lose weight & hang my iPod

I finally found a great place to work out, at Charter Fitness. I’ve bounced around a few health clubs but Charter fitness so far is the best. And I think seniors in Southwest Suburban Chicago should give it a closer look. It’s also the least expensive of all the clubs

By Ray Hanania


Ray Hanania

I think it’s great news that the Village of Orland Park has stepped in to takeover the Palos Health & Fitness Center, which Palos Hospital planned to close as a part of their medical expansion in Orland Park.

But the change forced me to do some soul-searching and to examine costs.

My health club history started at the East Bank Club when I worked at the Chicago Sun-Times in the 1980s and 1990s. Later, I switched to a weight system and Stairmaster in my home, but I just don’t think I was motivated enough to use it.

A number of years ago, I joined Life Time Fitness in Orland Park, but they just didn’t seem to care about me. They cared about my wallet. It cost me $145 a month. And it was a hassle to quit. When I quit, they made me pay two months more.

Fine. I was glad to leave.

Charter Fitness Treadmill data

Charter Fitness Treadmill data

I joined the Palos Health & Fitness Center, although it still cost $45. Palos Fitness was so much better at letting me leave, although they still clipped me for two months.

When they announced they were closing, I decided to make my physical health and my “expense health” priorities.

I had looked at Charter Fitness several times in the past. But I didn’t like their original property, even though membership was only $10 a month for basic equipment use and $20 a month to use any Charter Fitness center.

But a few months back, Charter moved to a larger and sprite location in the Orland Park Mall. It’s very nice. So, I decided to try it. It cost 99 cents to join, and I took the $10 a month plan.

They have a lot of equipment at Charter Fitness. One of the Vrdolyaks owns the franchise there and it is run professionally. Very clean.

They have 30 treadmills, 24 ellipticals (those bicycle machines), four stair climbers (I have no idea what they are really called but they sure give you a workout), and 10 of those rowing machines. Plus, they have a separate area for weight machines and another area for real weights.

They also have a training room and they offer classes.

The downside is they don’t offer those handwipes to clean your machine when done. People use a spray, Charter provides, and towels. I bring my own. But so what. For only $10, am I really going to complain?

Though they said it only costs 99 cents to join, later I was told I would have to pay an annual membership fee of $39, in three months. That’s annoying but it doesn’t come close to the money I’ve dumped into the other health centers.

Charter has 19 TV screens, but they use the old system of having an FM Receiver. When I first joined Life Time, I bought all the fitness paraphernalia that allowed me to tune in to the FM frequencies. Today, they’re outdated.

Motorola, which produced a great MOTO ACTV fitness gadget with GPS, abandoned the item. That only cost $300 to buy – recommended by Life Time. (Motorola has pretty much abandoned everything. Do they even exist any more?)

Still, my iPod and iPhone are filled with audio books (non-fiction, and mostly politics), plus a lot of music from iTunes.

The truth is, I should have joined Charter Fitness a long time ago. The people are nice there. The equipment is great. And I can’t complain about being charged only $10 a month. Even with the $39 charge I am anticipating being charged, it’s still a deal.

And truthfully, if you are a senior citizen, why would you spend more for your fitness membership? I suggest you all say Thanks Palos and move to Charter Fitness.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Email him at

Categories: Baby Boomers, Middle East Topics

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