BEST NEIGHBORHOOD GYM (2001)
We're not knocking the other two YWCA facilities in Minneapolis, but let's face it, natural light--which is so essential to the indoor workout, especially in the land of seven-month winters--isn't easy to come by at the Uptown and Downtown locations. At Midtown, the $21.4 million center that opened August 1, windows are everywhere. Staff members are eager to proclaim that this is the largest YWCA in the country, and indeed, spacious simplicity is the rule. There's the solid red brick and peppy yellow exterior, an arc-shaped area upstairs for free weights and exercise machines, and the aerobics studio with its suspended wood floor for extra give. And again, there are windows galore: along the running track, with a cushiony surface that takes the jolt out of jogging; circling the field house, which Minneapolis schools use during the day but is otherwise open for tennis, golf, volleyball, even batting practice; and by the family pool, the lap pool, the whirlpool, and a steam room. Classes, kids' activities, and daycare are all available. Memberships, priced for adults, families, seniors, students, and youth, can be paid in one lump sum or through a monthly debit. For example, a single adult could pay $520 for a year, or pay $153 down and $39 a month. Be sure to do the math, though--a paid-in-full six-month membership can turn out to be more expensive than the monthly payments.