Subtitle: Something I owe to the people who continually search for this topic.
I have a post titled something similar and apparently disgruntled gym members come to my site seeking commiseration, only to find that that post contains not one lick of explanation as to why I spent countless hours devising ways to obliterate all Gold’s Gym locations from the map.
Wind the clock back about, oh, five years. I believe it was October of 2004. Ash and I had begun living together – just he and I – in June and we had reached an impasse in our relationship. You know, the make it or break it place, the make your decision now or forever hold your peace place. To make a change in ourselves and our relationship, we “broke up” but were still living together. And we joined a gym. My memories about the whole relationship part are fuzzy (possibly blocked?) but I recall the gym stuff very vividly.
We ventured to the nearest location, took the tour and sat down with a beefy guy with a small head, comparatively. I was wary he would try to scam us but he swore that our membership was month to month and we could quit at any time. We perused the contract but in no clear terms did it say this OR otherwise. And we were pretty committed to making a change in our lives. Before this, we ate like there was no tomorrow and we gave not one tiny thought to the food we put in our mouths, nor the time at which we shoved said food into our gullets. By the time we joined the gym, we’d quit eating fast food and drinking soda. So this was the major change.
We signed on a two year contract, which was fine by us because we had committed to it and the incorporation of exercise into our lives really worked. Every day after work, we went to the gym. At first, we did only the stationary bikes – the reclined ones – but then we worked our way up to treadmills and then found the magic that is the elliptical. And once we found our groove, the pounds just melted away. I like to call this first six months “The Golden Age.” Sure, we were eating smaller portions and lean meats, barely any cheeses or fats in general, and I went all this time – oh-so many days – without a single cookie or ice cream. But we felt SO much better about ourselves, our relationship… everything.
And then, the holidays came. We slacked off a little on the diet but were still going strong. January: time for people to make their New Year’s resolutions. As you and I know, everyone seems to resolve to work out more. And so they did. And they joined our gym. Day after day, the machines we had always used were occupied by noobies, just getting their feet wet. Which, of course, I shan’t judge since I was that same slacker just six months prior. But boy did this anger me.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I hate the gym. You say, hate the people, the circumstances, but it’s not the gym’s fault. Aye, right you are. But it spirals out of control very soon.
We started going to a different location, in hopes it may be slightly less crowded. And it was. But the first problem was that the televisions on half the machines were in a constant state of BROKEN. This sounds awfully whiny but if you’ve ever worked out at some length, then you know how torturous it can be. And the presence of entertainment can make an hour of pain pass much quicker. We filed complaints with the staff but they were always so quick to pawn it off on the repair people who never – EVER – seemed to show.
In general, the attitude of the employees was what killed it. They were the holier-than-thou sort. What a cushy job it must be for people who are already in shape to sit around and watch fat-asses swipe their membership cards all day. If a machine was broken or something else was wrong, these employees treated us like scum. It was sickening to be forced to feel like less, just because we carried a few extra pounds around our mid-sections; because we didn’t come complete with bulging biceps and a couple hundred fewer brain cells.
It all came to a head when we had reached our weight goals prior to the end of our contract. We had originally set out to look our best before our wedding and when we were satisfied and had control over our eating and our bodies, we wanted to quit the gym. And here’s where I began to despise the evil corporation that is Gold’s. We were informed that under no circumstances had anyone ever told us that our contract was month to month, even though the guy had said this; it was our word versus theirs. Then, they said we could request to prematurely end our contracts but it would cost fifty dollars just for our plea to be considered. There was no guarantee they would allow us out.
We sat in the manager’s office on more than one occasion, going through this back and forth of “Why do you want to quit?” He wouldn’t let us make our own choices. And this made us both resent the gym more than I can even put into words. It was a fierce hatred; when we drove past the parking lot, I imagined new ways to hurt them, all of them. It was unhealthy, but the way it all went down was such a travesty that I wanted to scream.
The kicker of it all was that we did exactly what the bulked up manager said we wouldn’t: we kept the weight off. We bought our own equipment and kept on the diet. He was positive that without Gold’s help, we’d never make it on our own. Way to be supportive, there, buddy. Some days I want to walk in there and say, “How ya like me now, bitch?” But that would be puerile. And what still burns, even though I’ve mostly come to terms with it all, is that Gold’s now offer 14.99 memberships on a month to month basis. We surmise that someone finally sued their asses and this was the result.
In the end, we learned a lot and got ourselves in shape no matter what. So I don’t hate Gold’s like I used to. But it was a long time spent feeling that way, a lot of wasted effort on their poor business practices. I wouldn’t recommend joining that gym but who knows? They may have also learned their lesson.
ETA: Please note I don’t *actually* think that muscles = fewer brain cells. I quite like guys who are built ;) .