Reader Reports New Washington Sports Club in Columbia Heights Kicks Ass!

From a reader:

So, I worked out at the newly opened Washington Sports Club at DCUSA this morning. Not sure when it opened, but the place is MONEY! Full length 4 lane lap pool with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Irving St; a full court basketball court with a beautiful old school wooden gymnasium floor; huge layout of the weight/cardio room with sweet views from the corner of 14th and Irving. Didn’t get any photos (they’re pretty strict about that sort of thing), but it’s a great addition to the neighborhood.”

If my swimming skills consisted of more than the doggy paddle, I’d totally be there.   It definitely sounds awesome though, very cool to hear.

26 Comment

  • I know “they change daily” and “can’t possibly offer you the same deal in an hour if you walk out now and don’t sign up” but about how much do they run a month? I hate playing their silly games and I just want to know if it is even worth going there and talking with a sales rep and only a sales rep about their current deals.

    Also, does anyone have any good tips on how to get the lowest deal out of a gym sales rep?

  • It was $59/month a month ago when I signed up. To get that rate (one year) you pay a $75 initiation fee, which is pretty standard. It opened on June 1st and I’ve been the last two days in the morning. Yesterday was fine, but today it was completely packed and very difficult to get on cardio equipment. I would suggest you visit the gym around the time you plan on working out – that way you know how busy it may be on a typical day.

  • Kalia, I had a tenant who was a sales rep at WSC. This was several years ago but how it worked back then was that there was always some “new” special package offered each month. If you didn’t sign up or told the rep you “needed to think about it” you would get a call back from the sales rep the last week of the month and you would be offered a lower rate “just for the next 2 days if you sign up now.”

    The sales reps are always under a lot of pressure there to make their numbers the last week of the month. I would hold out and see what is available then.

    One of the many reasons I left WSC was that my monthly rate had crept up to almost $90 per month yet I would be working out with people paying $50-60. WSC also continued billing me after I tried ending my membership.

    I won’t be back. Despite the fancy new digs in CoHe

  • I used to be a WSC member, nice gyms, but they can get pricey. My rate started out at an introductory $49 and within 3 years had crept to $93. worse than Comcast.

  • i go to results–i’m getting sick of it with the incredibly loud 8 am music, poor lighting, and increasingly scant staff. i’d been thinking of switching to wsc, but i’m sort of concerned about similar problems. also, there are almost no bike racks out front–when i pedal by on my way to work (or results), it looks like it’s hard to come by morning bike parking. you’d think they’d put a bit of thought into that.

  • “One of the many reasons I left WSC was that my monthly rate had crept up to almost $90 per month yet I would be working out with people paying $50-60. WSC also continued billing me after I tried ending my membership.

    I won’t be back. Despite the fancy new digs in CoHe”

    this is the exact reason i had left WSC. I had even made an appointment to discuss my membership fee and negotiate a lower rate- a co-worker had told me she was pay like $45 less than me. I was unable to get a lower rate, and I have no plans to join again ever.

  • I’m sure they’re still doing the $59/month memberships. (of not, walk away and wait for them to call you and offer it to you) And if you plan on moving before the end of the year, you can cancel your membership for $25 (per the contract). Beats paying a month to month rate of about $90, plus extra fees.

    I went on opening day and it was pretty quiet, which was nice. The pool is nice, but I would imagine that it will get crowded with only 4 lanes- especially if they close some periodically for classes.

    My only complaints were that the water pressure (in the womens showers at least) was horrible, and the towels, while probably great for general work out needs (mopping sweat) leave much to be desired for showering purposes. I mean, if you’re bald and prefer not to cover up while naked, the towels are probably great, but if you’ve got hair to dry and you’re not into lounging around naken in locker room, they’re pretty skimpy. (or was I just the idiot trying to dry off with a gym towel when there were larger towels to be found elsewhere??)

    Hey PoP- instead of crime and neighborhood safety, perhaps we can have a post on WSC locker room do’s and don’ts…. I’d love to hear this community’s thoughts on cutting toe nails at the gym, how long to maintain awkward half-clothed conversations with neighbors etc.

  • This is why I and most Americans must be so fat, it is way to stressful to thin! sheesh. Well I appreciate you all getting back to me about the fees and tips and all your frustrations. I guess I will stop in to see at least.

    quick question, when you started at 49 and the price kept going up, were you able to cancel when they let you know the rate was going up or was it say mid contract and you were stuck? I don’t want to get trapped into something like that.

  • I signed up in April paying $59 a month with initiation fee. Thought is was a pretty decent deal. Then talked to my best friend, he just joined a different branch in March and is paying $40 a month, no initiation fee.

    Staff said they couldnt match the deal, needless to say I wasnt too happy.

  • I signed up the last day of September (in Chinatown) for 59.99/month with no joining fee, and a 2 year contract. The guy who signed me up said that if I ever wanted to get out of the contract, just make up a fake letter from an out of state job saying I was moving (he just asked that I wait 60 days before doing that, so that he could get his commission). I’ve been happy with my membership; I belonged years ago, and it was more expensive then.

    I heard some people last month were getting in at like $40 a month at the CH gym.

  • I had the same experience as Dani. I will never join again.

  • Kalia, the rate increases only occur when your contract is up (at least that was the case for me). they send you a letter a month or so in advance saying that starting on such and such date your contract will automatically renew at this higher rate. I didn’t make a fuss about the first two rate increases, but when I got a letter for a 3rd rate increase I just said enough.

    First I tried to opt out of the renewal over the phone (don’t even bother), then I went down there in person and was turned away because apparently there is only one employee at the location that was authorized to cancel a contract and he conveniently was never around and never returned my calls. I finally caught up with him after a couple weeks and told him not to renew my membership.

    He took me into an office in the employee area and tried to upsell me on something or the other and then offered to cut my rate for 6 months down to 60 something bucks. but I said no thanks, filled out a couple forms and the billing stopped the next month.

    WSC is not a bad gym, in fact most of their locations are very nice and clean but the prices they charge seem to have no rhyme or reason. You have people paying 40 bucks a month and others paying $100 for the exact same product. and the price increases I had were fairly large percentages that far outstripped the rate of inflation. In the end I just felt like I was being taken

  • LOL now I am getting email on this through my blog. One person was charged $54 at WSC CoHe and another $69 and both got memberships that could only be used at that club.

    Ro, I had a similar experince trying to cancel. They somehow “lost” my cancellation and then put it back on me to prove I had cancelled it. I was charged for three extra months…my bad for not paying closer attention to my checking account statements.

  • I’ve been a WSC member since 1999. It is pricey-but I average four visits a week, so I figure I get more than my money’s worth. Went for a tour of the 14th Street joint.
    Nice. It’s closer to home than the one I use after work (F Street)-but I am willing to bet that the new one will be more crowded.. If any of you end up making 14th Street your home club, enjoy.

  • I went in yesterday, the place was a mess. The front desk staff was surly/unhelpful, but it was extremely busy. I wanted to know what the rates were and the desk folks, who directed me to stand in the questions line, could not help. When I finally got to talk to someone, they offered me a $54.99 “early bird” rate with a $29 initiation fee for the duration of the 1 yr contract. I asked about a couples membership, but the woman at the desk said they didn’t offer that. The rep said they expect to have family memberships available once the WSC for Kids opens sometime between July and September. He couldn’t say how much it would be, but he guessed between $65 – $70/mo plus a % for the CH club since it is a premium club and per extra person. I grabbed a class schedule but there wasn’t a whole lot of selection, I imagine this is something they’ll fill out as time goes on.

    As an aside, I talked with the women in front of me (not together, but same issue). They both said they had signed up at another club with the intention of coming to CH once it opened and said they made this clear to the manager. When they went to CH though they were told that there would be transfer fees and a higher rate for switching from a regular to a premium club, despite reassurances that there were no such fees when they signed a 2 yr contract. Not sure what the resolution was, but when I left they were talking to a manager (who actually turned out to the the one who signed them up at the other club). Sounds like a major headache.

  • Kalia, regarding the obesity.. last night we had to take our kid to the ER for high fever, and I was absolutely horrified seeing a couple put coke (coca cola not the other coke at least) to a bottle for a girl that must have been less than 2 years old… UNBELIEVABLE.

    Should have pointed to them another little girl (probably about 2.5 years) that already had a pretty mean belly sticking out…

    So sad.

  • I joined WSC 4 years ago. I started at $56 month, no initiation fee, and I can use any of the gym locations. To get this “special offer,” we arranged at their request for my employer to electronically transfer a portion of my fee into a WSC account every time I get paid (every two weeks). Since then, I think I have received a two letters about fee increases. But I have never authorized my employer to change the electronic transfer amount, so it remains at $56. I have never heard from WSC about an improper transfer amount, yet. From my experience getting the electronic transfer arranged initially, their accounting system is not too sophisticated.

    I usually go to Gallery Place/Chinatown, and was eager for the CH location to open for convenience sake. I went on Monday, June 2. I arrived about 4 PM, not crowded at all, but by 5 PM it was packed more than Gallery Place ever is during the time I’m usually there. I’ll let the dust settle and will give it another try in a few weeks.

  • Man, I was so interested in joining, and now you good folks have scared me off, I think. I just want to pay a monthly fee that make sense, and I don’t care for contracts.

  • Christina-

    I recommend it- it’s a nice facility once you’re done dealing with all of the sales crap. I’d just go in and say that you’re ready to sign the contract, and that “Monika quoted me $59/month.” Maybe then you won’t have to talk to a “membership counselor.” The contract isn’t strange or confusing, just read it to make sure you know how to cancel it etc. It says pretty clearly in the contract that I signed that you have to notify them by registered mail if/when you want to end your contract, so that’s what I plan to do. At least then I’ll have documentation that I followed all the rules.

    The only gym I’ve been to that didn’t require a contract was the YMCA near Dupont. It was month to month, but more expensive than most gyms (and an older facility, but had a pool and lots of classes) and it took me months to get them to stop deducting the monthly fees from my account after I moved.

  • I used to belong to the WSC at 1211 Conn but left after they let it go downhill–broken equipment, indifferent management and staff only interested if you are paying for personal training. Not worth the $80+ I was paying.

  • I’m going to stick to the YMCA. I go to the nice one on 17th/Rhode Island NW, and they offer “financial aid”. I’m currently paying $21 a month!

  • I have been a member of WSC for 8 years, and I have to say that I’m pleased with my membership. No gym is perfect, but WSC offers several different locations so I can workout all over DC with my passport membership. Check out the Georgetown club. It’s in the mall on m street, and it’s always clean and never over crowded. I swim at Columbia Heights. It can get over crowded at night, but I’m sure that will slow down once the hype is over. If price is what matters, then you will always be able to find a cheap health club. I’d rather pay more, but get everything that I need.

  • I tried to cancel but they told me I have a balance and cannot cancel until I pay it off. What happens if you sent in your cancelation letter and just refuse to pay the remaining balance? Can they come after you with a collections agency?

  • Hey, I live about a 15 minute walk from the Col. Heights WSC and I really want to join too, does anyone know if the hype has gone down from the initial opening and lessened the crowds? I plan to go after work (like everyone else I guess) around 6ish and possibly on weekend mornings (like everyone else!) lol I’ll probably have no such luck but does anyone else frequent during those times that could tell me if it’s crowded or not?

  • I’ve belonged to the CH WSC since June 2008. It was awesome when it opened…but now they have oversold memberships so you can never get on equipment if you go after work. It’s so bad now that even finding a locker in the locker room is near impossible. At the same time they signed on more members they cut down on the number cleaning staff so the place is nowhere near as clean as it once was (the locker room has a funky smell now). I hear the Gallery Place WSC is great, though…I recommend checking out that one instead.

  • It’s a great gym…but some funky things are happening. The pool’s heater has been broken for almost a month. It’s too cold to swim. You ask the desk staff or the management about what is happening and you can’t get a straight answer. A friend of mine asked the life guard and was told, “people need to complain or it won’t get fixed.”

    I’ve worked out there and seen the same gum and discarded towels in the shower stalls that were there the day before (which says as much about some of the clientele as the cleaning staff.

    In short…I think it’s a great club but has some management issues.

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