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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bally's Total Ripoff

It's somewhere around 1,000 degrees outside and everything is sagging in the heat. The upholstery in my car singed the backs of my thighs and the steering wheel bears my fingerprints. Even the lizards look hot and tired out there: They look at you like, "Dude, it's fuckin hot out here." (I always imagine that lizards have voices in Latino accents, so try to utilize that accent when reading that line in your head.)

Not pleasant weather for exercising outside.

I've been thinking about joining a gym so that I can run on a treadmill during the day in the comfort of central air, but I hesitate to sign up at any gym because of the contracts, the fees, and the fact that I usually stop going anyway. Statistically, I think gyms actually count on members to stop attending, that way they can continue to make money from you, but can also continue to recruit new members without worry of overcrowding. The last gym I joined bound me to one year's membership, several hundred dollars, and my soul. The soul I was happy to hand over (what am I going to do with it anyway?), but the money and the committment? Whoa, that was a lot to agree to.

But the day I signed up I was feeling like a tugboat, so I handed over a check and sealed the deal with my Herbie Hancock. Unfortunately, I failed to read the fine print of the contract, so after a year was up, and I hadn't been attending for about six months, and I had moved to different state, I found that I was still being billed for my time there. Well, I got sufficiently worked up and sent them an angry letter complaining about the bills. They in turn calming informed me that I had failed to notify them that I would terminate my membership (something you have to do sixty days before your contract is scheduled to expire), so I had to pay several months worth of membership fees, plus late fees, plus a fee for being snarky with them. In the end, I spent half a year's membership for months that I lived 2,000 miles away from any of their treadmills.

That experience pissed me off enough to make me feel jaded and cynical about gyms for quite awhile, but now that the temperature makes running outside so difficult, and running around my house just isn't practical, I now return to the idea that perhaps I should scout out a place. But I am, of course, completely indimidated by gym people, so I don't like to actually go in there -- I just know they'll rope me into a deal with their quick talk and flashy spandex. So I like to do a little reconnaisance work; essentially, this means driving slowly by the establishment and trying to catch a glimpse of the envrionment through their windows. This is tricky because many places don't have a lot of windows, in which case I try to gauge the other clientele by the cars parked in the lot.

If there are a lot of Beamers, Mercedes, or other shiny vehicles then I know it's not for me: too expensive and the people working out there probably have designer workout clothes. But if the lot is empty, but I can see a lot of people inside, this means it's most likely chock full of old people who hitched a ride there on the city bus, in which case, I don't want to go there either. Old people are likely to piss me off at the gym just as much as they piss me off in the grocery store (say what you will about respect for the elderly, but when you're stuck behind an old woman haggling with a cashier over a $.60 can of green beans, you'll start to hate them as well). I just know that an old person would be on a coveted treadmill forever, walking, when I want to run on it.

So I look for a place with the parking lot filled with economy cars and the people heading inside look averagely tubby and who are wearing sweats and t-shirts. I also like to see a lot of middle-aged people -- I may be young, but I don't like to be compared with people my age, that makes me feel like poo; however, I do look good when compared to someone who's forty or fifty years old. So I have one place in mind; it scouts out pretty well, but I haven't yet gathered up the courage to go in and face their recruiter because I know that once I committ to stepping through that door, I've committed to that gym, and I'm going to have to hand over some money, I'm going to need to sign something, and I'm going to have to forge the certificate for my soul -- the original is in a vault belonging to the aforementioned gym.

2 comments:

Froyd South said...

You are in luck! Froyds gym south has just opened its doors! Here is what you get: One fully functioning weight bench, with leg extentions for people of the height challenged variety(my gangly legs just don't match up right), a full complement of dumbells, a pullup bar(which works well for hanging your sweatsuit on, pullups are too hard) and a dip bar. You also have the option of am/fm radio, or dog barking, whichever you prefer, and best of all there are no floor to ceiling mirrors to show off pit or crack sweat. You also feel like you are really getting a workout due to the lack of AC and the small fan, which help you produce bucketloads of perspiration. All this for the low cost of having Jerry wear a unitard to one workout a month! No contract, no annual fee! This is my Final offer, you know how to reach me. Over and Out.

Froyd said...

haha! now that's a deal!