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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Wait Training

In order to break up the summer I created a list of constructive things to do which I've been pretty faithful to...well with the exception of the teaching related manuals I've procrastinated about picking up thus far. One of the things on my list was to learn more Spanish. I bought a book months ago called Spanish For Educators, but all it really does so far is take up space and collect dust.

So instead I decided to take a more active approach by signing up for a non credit, Spanish language class at the local community college. It was called Spanish For Educators. The class would teach you valuable Spanish phrases for communicating with the students' parents, including such classics as "Your child is failing". or "Your child does not do their homework". I figured this would be a great way to learn something new and to possibly meet new people, teachers like me. All pluses, right?


Class was due to start this past Tuesday. Last Friday I got a call that the class was cancelled due to low enrollment. How much you wanna bet the enrollment was one? I had a sinking suspicion that this might happen though. I believe I signed up for something else years ago, only to have it get cancelled. Apparently I'm the only dork in a 25 mile radius who looks forward to taking non credit classes just for the joy of learning.

Once again I must turn to my trusty book in order to acquire the skills I need. Instead I decided I should probably take the refund I would be getting from that class and apply it to something new. So, begrudingly, I decided to look into signing up with a local gym.

Don't get me wrong. I know lots of people go to gyms. And for most, I'm sure they are great places. But gyms have always scared me. They also make me incredibly weary. I mean I work out in my home FOR FREE. What do I really need a gym for? Despite the slogans, there are a million reasons not to join actually.

For one thing, there's the time factor. If you want to get the most out of your gym workout, you gotta block off at least an hour of time. Then you have to add in the time it takes you to commute to and from the gym. Oh and of course shower time, no matter where you do it cause if you don't do it at all, well then, that's just disgusting.

Then there's what I like to call the possible humilation factor. Yes I work out, but I work out in the comforts of my own home, far away from the sculpted bodies and judging eyes of my more fit peers. I mean I'm pretty content with my body overall, I just want to be more toned, as I've stated before. But I really can't wanna musclehead or perky cheerleader type coaching me on the ways of toning up for an extra fee on top of the one I'm already paying. It's kind've like a sick form of exeroxia. No matter how fit someone like me ever gets, my inner "gym class, last to be picked for teams" child will always feel a bit like the outsider looking in.

Then we have what just might be my favorite reason not to join, the cost. Debbie Allen once said there was a price you'd pay, but you'd pay it in sweat. Ms. Allen, however, didn't add in the hefty fee they charge just for the privilege to sweat in places like these.

To prove myself wrong (or right as the case may be) I decided to call the local gym and inquire about membership fees. I had gone to the website and got overwhelmingly vague descriptions of packages offered, so I pretty much knew what I was in for by calling, but I did it anyway. Immediately they asked my name and transferred me to the perkiest sounding sales rep ever named Tara. Stereotypes on overdrive, I proceeded to ask Tara about how much it cost to join. Tara proceeded to instead give me a whole lot of double talk.

After question number one, my first name, I found myself entering a downward spiral slope of lying and/or being extremely vague. I figured it was ok though because I was giving them a taste of their own medicine.

"Where do you live?" In the area.
"What do you do?" I work in an office and I'm calling different gyms rather than having to drive to each one to inquire about their services.
"Can you come in for a tour?"
Sure I can. Can you tell me more about what I'd be touring exactly?

Needless to say with each question came another brick wall.

Now some of you might wonder why I insisted on being so difficult. The reason, other than the ability to write a semi-witty blog entry about it, are simple. MY ANSWERS SHOULDN'T MATTER AND IN REALITY, THEY DON'T.

For example, I obviously live in the area or else I wouldn't be calling YOUR gym. If I lived in say, Fort Worth, Texas, I'd call a gym there. Then there's the "what I do for a living" question. Give me an answer that would change THEIR answer in this scenario. A carnival ride operator is the only one I can come up with since their time at home is probably extremely limited. Or what if I had said I was a police offer. Would they say "All well, I see. We might as well end the application here as police officers are the one profession we do not accept".

The bottom line is of course I CAN come in, but I shouldn't HAVE to in order to weigh the pros and cons, no pun intended. Think about applying to colleges. Part of the process is getting an orientation and a tour of the campus, but you can still apply and even know how much tuition is before checking out their dorms and their meal plans. It's just common sense. There are certain cases where I realize this does not work. Buying a house for instance, you might not want to do over the phone, nor should you. Neither does it make sense to order a car over the internet, yet people do it everyday. Heck, nearly everything can be done from the comforts of your home these days. With the possible exception, I now know, of joining a gym.

When I asked why they couldn't give me raw numbers over the phone Tara insisted it was because there were simply "so many plans and options to choose from". Call me crazy, but I don't like entering high peer pressure situations. If I at least knew the numbers before going to a gym I wouldn't have to waste their time and they wouldn't have to waste mine. We'd both have a rough idea where we stand. If instead you told me the options and they seemed doable then I'd come in and give you all the time in the world to show me just how many speeds the treadmill has. But until then, I reserve the right to not get physical in your establishment.

Fueled by the fire of my conversation with Tara, I proceeded to call other gyms in the area to see if I'd get the same problem. And with minor variations, I did. It's amazing actually. I even have a gym a few towns over who asked for my name and number "just in case we got disconnected". Then he said "A sales rep will call you back in a few minutes". I said, "I thought I was holding?". He said, "Well all of our reps are busy at the moment". Right.

Regardless, their attempts to contact "Jen Brown" at a number where I'm sure a "Jen Brown" does not reside will all be in vain.

So let's review what we learned. Gyms might have many good reasons for you to join them, but they're not telling them, at least not unless you know the secret handshake or special code. I guess that's why they call themselves "clubs" in the first place.

I don't, comprende. In full circle fashion, this makes more than one language I still can't speak.



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