The ins and outs of a young library media specialist's life. Rock, rock on.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Wish I Was Making This Up

In a moment of loathing my own recent laziness I decided to check out some gyms around my place. I'd been dreading looking at other gyms after leaving the Gym of Dreams when we moved, but the time has come to move on and get back on the proverbial horse. As lovely as napping every day after school is, I don't want to become one of the women you see on Dr. Phil who's so huge she has no other option but to have the Jaws of Life cut an extra space in her doorway so that she can be airlifted to the nearest hospital for gastric bypass.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I decided to start with the closest gym to ease myself back into the process. On the short walk over there I mentally prepped myself; I knew there was no way it could compare to my beloved eucalyptus-scented place of sweatitude and I didn't want to be disappointed in a normal machine-ridden gym. There was just no way of knowing just how ghetto this gym could be.

This gym- let's just call it, oh, say, POW- was in the filthy dirty basement of what could comfortably house a meth lab but instead housed a number of decrepit, squeaky machines. I entered through a haze of Newport Light smoke emanating from three or four POW employees and passed through the metal detector, approaching a desk manned by four people. Then I waited. I stood there for about 3 full minutes, patiently waiting for them to stop yapping about their co-worker who had, apparently, just been arrested for dealing. When they finally deigned to grace me with a glance, I informed them I was interested in checking out the facility. Already regretting my decision, my newfound tour guide meandered around the windowless concrete dungeon, sometimes pointing at machines, but mostly silent. Until we got to the woman's locker room.

"You wanna see the locker room?" She looked hard at me.

"Uhhh... sure?"

"Good. Some people say, I don't need to see no locker room. And I say, whatever, you DO need to see the locker room because you can't know no gym if you don't see no locker room! You get?"

"Oh, yeah. Sure. Let's see the locker room," I nodded vigorously.

"Yeah, you needs ta see it to know it. Like see here? I always use the handicap changing room because it's twice as big as the regular room. It's like you got a whole room to yourself! Plenty of room for your wheelchair, or your shit." She looked at me hard again. "Ya also got some special 'quipment down in here for women only. Ya know, for your thighs and shit."

Things get a little hazy here. I think I probably gulped and nodded, looking around for someone else in case this girl decided I was challenging her in the locker room and wanted to throw down. Instead, she ushered me back out to a row of cubicles where I sat, relieved to be out of the dirty diaper-smelling locker room.

"Ok, ya got two options: one, you can pay $499 down and $19.99 a month, which is good foreva, like, for your life. Or you can pay $299 down and $29.99 a month. Right?"

"Well, I was kind of thinking I'd like to try the gym out for the day, to see how I like it?" I have a bad habit of posing my statements as questions when I'm nervous.

She looked at me suspiciously. "It's $20 for a day pass. You got $20 to try it out? You might as well sign up now."

I'm sure I looked as confused as I felt. I was dizzy from so much fluorescent lighting. "You're not going to let me try the gym out?"

"Oh, alright. Just leave your license behind so I can fill out all your paperwork while you're working out. Cuz I know you're going to join and it takes me foreva to get that paper shit done."

I slid my license over and got up to leave.

"You probably wanna keep your bag with you unless you got a lock for the lockers," she warned as I walked away.

Shaking my head, I snagged the nearest elliptical machine and plugged my headphones into the tv, making sure my bag was in plain sight next to me. The tv blared some Food Network show into my ears and two guys with dreadlocks stared at me while I futilely clicked the volume down button. Giving up, I fired up my ipod and got to the ellipticalizing. Almost immediately I noticed a shrill shrieking sound. Looking around in annoyance, I suddenly realized that it was me making the noise. Every upswing of my left leg a big "SHHHhrrrreee" wheezed out of the machine. Oh, so that was why it was the only available machine. Great.

I gathered up all my stuff and scoped out the treadmills, grabbing one as someone stepped off. Once I got going, I glanced to my right and noticed that the little twelve year old boy had stopped his machine to stare at me. Thinking if I ignored him someone would eventually come to collect him, I persevered. Ten minutes later he was still staring thickly at me and I could take no more. I wiped down the machine and stalked back over to the cubicles of doom. Then the real fun began.

"Yeah, I was just trying out some machines, so I need to get my license back."

"Ok, well why don't you take a seat. The assistant manager will be over to discuss plans with you."

"No, but I..."

"Just take a seat."

A very large man came to sit down next to me. "Well, missy, what do you think of our gym?"

I explained I wanted to look at some other gyms and that if I decided I wanted to join I'd come back.

"Well here's what I'm gonna offer you. We had this deal, see, that ended on Sunday. Like, last Sunday that already past. It was for $49.99 down and $19.99 a month. Normally I couldn't give you that price, since it's already past Sunday, but someone just cancelled so I have just one opening. You must be a lucky miss."

"Oh. Well, that's nice of you, but I still want to check out some other places."

"Hold up, hold up. If you don't take this now, someone else will. And that would be dumb, see? Cuz I want to give this to you, you know, like a little sumptin sumptin on the side?"

I stared at him dumbly. Did I not know what sumptin sumptin meant? Was he saying he wanted... no, it couldn't be.

He winked at me.

"Errrm... well, I'm going to take a look at other gyms. I know I might miss this special "deal" and all, but I haven't looked anywhere else yet..." I rambled on in my flustered state.

"Hold up. My regional manager is here. I definitely can't hold this deal for you, definitely not. But maybe I can."

At this point I was already partly angry at being corralled, partly amused at the situation, and mentally composing this post in my head.

The zit-faced regional manager limped over. "I hear you want me to hold the special deal just for you?" she demanded.

"No, I was just saying I'd like to take a look at other places," I reiterated, "I understand if you can't hold something for me."

"Well let me tell you what we can do. I can do you one better than that special. How about if I wave that $49.99 fee and just sign you up for the $29.99 a month? Manager's special." She leaned in conspiratorially.

I brushed her too-bleached hair out of my face and repeated my desire to shop around for places.

"Well you're in luck. Our actual owner is here today. Let's see what he can do you for."

"No, really, I..."

She stalked off, returned, and told me to head to the "back of the stalls" to meet with the owner.

"Well hi there, NPW. I'm GreasySalesman. You're a tough customer, but I like tough customers. So here's what I can do: you sign up today, right now, and I'm going to give you the $19.99 for membership for life, no money down, and I'm going to throw in a TV. A free TV! You'd be an idiot not to take this deal. A real idiot. In fact, if any of my salespeople didn't get you to take this deal, I'd fire them myself."

My reaction to his deal must not have been what he was looking for- probably a laugh or a face- because he suddenly looked angry.

"Look, there's no better deal at any gym in town. You know you're going to come here. Just sign up today. You're a real dope if you don't just take this and I won't be in tomorrow to give you this deal, so this is it."

"Uhhh. No, I don't think so."

He threw his hands up. "Fine. Nice to meet you." I got up to leave and I swear I heard him mutter "Dope" under his breath.

I finally reclaimed my license and left, TVless, to call Chris and regale him with stories of poor salesmanship.

As I was making dinner that night, around 8:00 p.m., my phone rang. "Hi, this is Mattie from POW? The owner told me to call you to let you know he'll be here till 9 if you decide you want the deal still. Should I have him call you?"

I looked at my phone like it was playing a joke on me. And then I clicked END and laughed.

In all my vast imagination, I don't think I can picture anything worse than being a POW "member for life". It's like a death sentence with no hope of pardon. So much for easing back into things, eh?


Anonymous Anonymous rocks hardcore!

I am glad you didn't give in to their suave tactics bacause I heard that POW is a gang in Boston and you would of ended up with a very bad tattoo on your neck that said DOPE....and still end up having gastric bypass surgery.

9:18 AM

Blogger Ween rocks hardcore!

This? Is the best gym story EVER. Also why I have an elliptical at home that I don't use instead of paying to not use one outside of my house.

Second, I'd like to say I haven't seen that episode of Dr. Phil. But I think I did.


12:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous rocks hardcore!

this reminded me of the time that i thought it would be a good idea to attend one of those time-share seminars as a means to get free disney tickets. I will never get those 5 (5!) hours back. i will never understand pressure sales. people either want to buy, or they don't. it's that simple.

- kir

12:41 PM

Blogger 3carnations rocks hardcore!

For some reason that reminded me of the movie Cable Guy. I can't believe you didn't take that deal, ha. What I really can't believe is they called you at home. Maybe you should change your number.

{muttering under my breath} dope...


1:09 PM

Blogger Kelli rocks hardcore!

So, wait I don't get it? Why didn't you want to take that sweet deal? The gym sounded SO awesome.

Kidding aside this story is HILARIOUS.

I love the dialogue you had with the 1st woman giving you the tour. People at work must be wondering why I'm giggling quietly in front of my computer...

2:21 PM

Anonymous LaLa rocks hardcore!

Brilliant. That post filled me full of rage at past gyms I have been railroaded into signing up with, who I pay for 12 months and then I have to have an "interview" with their Customer Service Manager to cancel an expired contract.

Never again.

And the habit of posing statements as questions? Most Australian women do that all the time?

3:47 PM

Anonymous alyndabear rocks hardcore!

Jeez, that is bloody scary. I would have grabbed my licence and RAN.

4:24 PM

Blogger Aaron rocks hardcore!

I'm speechless. But I'll try:

1. This is the funniest post you've ever written.

2. Honestly, I can't believe you even stayed to try the place out.

3. I had a bad experience like this at Golds in Manchester about seven years ago. Amanda was on this "we need to get in shape" kick, and I honestly thought we weren't going to make it out of that place, ever. They were so persistent as to be rude (ie. "dope").

4. This extra amuses me now that I work in a gym. Dude, there's a PF in Somerville now, you know. I'm just sayin'.

5:42 PM

Blogger Lisa rocks hardcore!

Ummmm....I can't believe you stayed to try out the gym!!! Never having belonged to a gym in my life, but recently thinking of trying one out, I am not absolutely horrified. I think this is a set back of at least a week!

5:32 AM

Blogger NancyPearlWannabe rocks hardcore!

Anon- Well, I already have the DOPE tattoo. Just not on my neck.

W- For the $500 sign up fee they wanted to charge me I could have bought my own treadmill. Seriously, who goes in there and says, "Sure! Here you go! $500!"

Kir- I was actually surprised they didn't grab my arm and twist it behind my back until I yelled Uncle.

3C- Jim Carrey was way less scary than my gym tour guide. At least he didn't look like he might knife you when no one was looking.

Kelli- Sometimes I'm pretty dumb. I probably should have signed up for the rest of my life. I must be some kind of dope.

Lala- I should have asked Mr. GreasySalesman if he would carry the TV home for me on his back? Then I might have signed up?

Aly- Your tactic probably would've worked better than mine. Sometimes I'm too nice.

Ace- 1. Thank you. I thought I was funny all the time though?
2. I really wanted to work out!
3. It kind of puts you off gyms forever when they're so pushy. Let me sweat in peace, people! I know you hate PF, but at least they are low pressure.
4. I'm totally joining the one in Somerville. Thanks!

Lisa- I have never had an experience like that before. If you have a Planet Fitness or a Healthworks, I recommend them. Very low-key.

7:47 AM

Blogger stilettoheights rocks hardcore!

um, this was brilliant, I think it will be remembered in history as one of the great works of the English language, people in future cultures will learn to read English,just so they can read this post.

like the Iliad or somehting.

7:55 AM

Blogger Noelle rocks hardcore!

Wow, despite the fact that you seem to be nowhere near Poughkeepsie, you pretty much just described the Dutchess County YMCA where I used to go until I found greener pastures at Planet Fitness. Free Bagels this Tuesday morning! I'm just sayin...

9:11 AM

Blogger NancyPearlWannabe rocks hardcore!

Jenn- Why thank you! Maybe once they come out with the Norton Anthology of Blog Posts I will be a contender.

Noelle- Umm, yum? I just so happen to love bagels AND pizza. I used to go to a different PF and I loved them. Hassle free work outs, that's what I'm aiming for.

10:18 AM

Blogger Mary Sheehan Winn rocks hardcore!

It was not lost on me that the place was called POW (Prisoner of War).
What a creepy place. Glad you escaped.

7:37 PM


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