While Menlo Park is known for being a place where you can drop a few grand while strolling downtown, it also has a lot of opportunities to have fun for little or no cost. Starting today, we'll help you find things to do this summer -- that won't liquefy your wallet. Tune in every Thursday to get a new Cheap Thrill with Austin Walsh.
Menlo Park has helped me lose 20 pounds since March. At the end of February, I weighed over 230 pounds. Today, I'm hovering just under 210. And though my work isn't yet done, I've got to credit specifically the for much of the progress I've made.
I stumbled across this gem of a gym during the winter months while covering a story about the library. And while the library does offer many great, free opportunities for family oriented fun, it was the facilities at 600 Alma St. that captured the lion's share of my attention.
As I walked into the state of the art gym, which is located in the Civic Center just blocks from downtown, I figured it was too good to be true. My experience with community centers is that adult men are not often offered many opportunities to use the facilities.
But imagine my excitement to find that the Arrillaga center not only offered men's activities, it did so for cheap! I was thrilled. Especially to find that I could play basketball on the brand new and immaculately maintained courts three times a week, for only $2. And from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, it is free!
Now let's backtrack to how I was living a few months ago. I had recently relocated my residence to Mountain View from Santa Cruz. And as most of us do after relocating, we spend some time experiencing the new restaurants and food venues offered by the new town.
Unfortunately for me, Mountain View catered to my culinary weaknesses. I took the variety of taquerias, food trucks and restaurants vying for the the best burrito in town as a challenge. I tried nearly each one I could. And though I found a favorite (), I also found myself unhappy and out of shape.
And during winter, it is easy to make excuses to not exercise. My favorite was to blame the weather. But when I found Arrillaga, I also found an end to my ability to justify being out of shape.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week, from noon until to 2 p.m., I'd grab $2 (sometimes eight quarters) along with the dusty old basketball shoes and make the short trek to Menlo Park. Invariably, every time I walked in that gym and heard the familiar deep thump of a basketball pounding off the hardwood court, my heart rate would excel.
And as anyone who enjoys a good workout knows, that first pump of adrenaline can be as addictive as any other sensation out there. So I indulged in the moment, took the momentum of an accelerated heart rate and chased it up and down the court.
After a few months of being overweight, one tends to forget how great a good, hard sweat from a workout can feel. But after my first day, I vowed to myself to not get back to the point where that sensation became unfamiliar.
Since then, I've religiously attended games three days a week at Arriillaga. And during the off days, I've taken my talents down the street from my house to Rengstorff Park in Mountain View and played for free.
So for $6 a week, combined with a healthier eating regiment, I've been able to trim down so much that people are beginning to ask if I've contracted a nasty tape worm, or some variety of strange illness that has caused my weight loss.
To be honest, there's little greater satisfaction than knowing that I've earned the shape I'm in. And I did it the old fashioned way. Without the help of fad diets, starving myself, or any other gimmick available on the market.
And it's not just me. The people I see playing with me on a regular basis are beginning to look a lot leaner and healthier, too. Healthy living becomes contagious, and quickly all those involved in the active community are interested in bettering themselves. It's almost like a health club, but for a fraction of the price.
Even the younger folks get a shot at playing ball in the fine gym, as one court is reserved for the younger kids to shoot hoops, while the big boys play on the other.
For those out there wanting to join the fun, who aren't into shooting hoops, don't fret. Because adult basketball isn't the only thing offered at Arrillaga.
In the gym, volleyball is offered for $2 on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (on one court) from noon to 2 p.m. On Sunday night, there is volleyball from 6:30 until 9:30 for $3.
There are also youth and adult leagues for both volleyball and basketball players to join.
One could even play badminton on one court Sunday nights, for $3, from 6:30 to 9:30.
There are also health and fitness classes offered at the gym in the center most days of the week. Visit www.menlofit.com for more details.
Outside the gym there is a skateboard park offered to the more daring thrill seekers out there. As well, one can find outdoor basketball hoops and baseball and softball fields to play on.
So as summer slowly rolls around, and we begin to consider exposing the masses to how we look in our bathing suits, it is in everyone's best interest to know what kind of options there are locally to get, or stay, in shape.
And together we can enjoy getting fit. Without spending much money. Through amazing local options available at the Arrillaga Family Gym.