Finding a new place to lose weight & hang my iPod

Finding a new place to lose weight & hang my iPod

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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

This post has already been read 144 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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