Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Don't Read the Fine Print

Or:  Ignorance Is Bliss
Or:  Why I Won't Be Going to the Y

In case you haven't heard, Leonard has started going to the gym again.  Well, two different gyms,...trying to find the right one.  And in case you don't remember, Leonard went to the gym once before.  If you want to read the boring reasons of why I'm trying a gym again, scroll to the bottom:

Two things to keep in mind while reading Leonard's Quest for Gym:

  1. I'm cheap.
  2. I'm lazy.
I don't want to spend a lot of money or really commit to anything.  And I don't want to travel too far out of my way to get to this place where I will sweat and smell bad.  Near me are two places that fit my requirements:  the YWCA and a Planet Fitness.  And at first glance, they appear to fit my very basic gym needs:  weight machines, some kind of cardio, locker rooms/showers.

I was wary of the Planet Fitness.  Was the location skeezy?  Would people be creepy?  Would it be dirty?  What's up with offering pizza and doughnuts at a gym?  So then I looked at the YMCA, but I couldn't find any prices whatsoever.  I did sign up for a Guest Pass, though, and it was delivered to my e-mail box with a note that "someone would be contacting [me] about a membership."  I printed off the pass, put on my big girl panties, and went someplace new and large and loud and scary to the YMCA.

The people were friendly enough, and I told them that I was interested in membership details, but still no one got back with me on that.  This particular facility is downright huge for a Y, and it was the hopping place to be at 6 p.m. on a weeknight.  It was busy, but not too crowded.  They had a lot of cardio equipment (treadmills, stairmasters, stationary bikes, etc.), some weights (the big, "manual" kind), and a smattering of weight machines.  I'd say they had only one of each type of weight machine, sometimes two; that, in turn, meant I had to wait for the weights sometimes (see what I did there?) or do something else and come back.

I spent 30-35 minutes on the treadmill, which was about 15 minutes too many; by the time I got down, I felt like I was floating all the way to the locker room and beyond.  When I got home, still breathless, my Unit commented,  "You look pale.  Like all the blood went straight to your heart."

It wasn't a bad experience, although I was disappointed that I couldn't find any pricing information online and that no one had contacted me about it.  The next day I decided I wanted to work out again (who AM I??!??), but my YMCA Guest Pass was only good for one day.

I looked at Planet Fitness again online, but I couldn't find any information about guest passes. I called them and was informed that a "day pass" costs twenty dollars ("but that fee is then applied to your membership if you sign up").  Then I tried to research more on the Y's website (give me dollars and prices, people!) when I stumbled across their Membership Handbook.  I was scrolling through the PDF file when I discovered page three under "Lockers":
"Use the gender appropriate locker room with which you legally identify."
Wow.  What if my legal status hasn't been changed/updated to reflect my gender identity?  What if I don't have an updated legal photo I.D. with my new name/gender?  While it's not as bad as North Carolina saying to use the biological sex on one's birth certificate, it's close.

And then I found under "Code of Conduct" this little gem:
"We take pride in our family friendly environment. Please keep attire appropriate and modest."
"Modest" according to whom?  What is "appropriate"?  Your family and my family may be entirely different.  If it's hot and I'm busting through my cardio, am I not allowed to wear capris and a sports bra?  My swimsuit probably shows cleavage because I have big boobs; is that going to offend your family's modest sensibilities?

Granted, those things did not happen to me in the hour that I was there, but the fact remains that they could.  The fact remains that the language alone made me very uncomfortable.  And when I told all of these things to my Unit, she pointed out the same thought I was having, "YMCA does stand for 'Young Men's Christian Association.'"

And that clinched it for me.  Off to Planet Fitness I went, despite the charge to try out the facility. Luckily for me when I showed up to the desk, the attendant was the same person I had spoken to earlier.  And she let me use the facility for free (without me asking) -- which practically guaranteed that I would sign up for a membership because I am a sucker for good customer service.

So there ya have it.  Reading the fine print will usually destroy your blissful ignorance and remind you of what those pesky abbreviations stand for.

Prologue:  Why a Gym?  Why Now?  And then I dislocated my knee (for the third time), so I stopped.  But after last September's adventure on a trapeze (yes, a real trapeze!), I decided I wanted to try more things, new things, fancy aerial things.  And I did aerial yoga for a while.  And I really enjoyed it (and didn't hurt myself).  But my schedule of rehearsals combined with crippling anxiety ("where have you been? why haven't you been here?) mean I haven't been there in months.  And when I looked, the class I had liked was no longer on the schedule.  Also I realized that yoga was not doing enough; I wasn't sweating enough, getting my heart rate high enough. 
But you know what did do those things?  Going to the gym.  But I no longer teach at a university with a fitness center, so now what?  Cue Leonard's search for a gym.

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