The following conversation took place at work the other night, and it probably won't interest the majority of you in the least. I sound entirely arrogant here, but I have serious issues with commercial gyms and the methods by which they separate "members" from their money. And yes, this actually happened.
"Well," said the little skinny guy, "we have personal training services, too. You know, if you're interested. We can really get you going."
"Sorry, man. You're wasting your time. I don't live in this area."
"Where do you live?"
"Queens," I replied. "I live in Queens."
"We'll have a club in Forest Hills by next summer. Might be a good idea to jump on a deal with us now while the price is still low like this."
"Dude, I train at gyms. I don't train at clubs. I do this and this. Not this*."
"What gym do you belong to?" he asked.
"I go to a couple of different places, but I'm a big fan of Lost Battalion Hall in Rego Park, and Iron Island out in Oceanside. Chain gyms suck cock."
"I don't know those. You should really give our place a try. We could really bring your workouts to another level."
"So, what?" I asked. "You're assuming my "workouts" suck? Is that what you're saying? Dude, you've never even heard of two world class lifting gyms, and you have no idea who I am or what I do. How can you possibly tell me that you could improve on anything I do? What the fuck kind of approach is that?"
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah, I'm serious. I want to know what you think you're going to accomplish by telling me you can take me to "another level" without even knowing what "level" I'm on to begin with. Are you a trainer?"
"Yeah," he replied. "I train people."
"So, if I buy a membership to your "club," I can come to you for personal training?"
"And you think you could help me out?" I asked. "You think you could improve on what I'm doing?"
"I'm sure of it. We have everything you could possibly need, and our staff are all certified."
"How can you say that, though? You haven't even asked me what my goals are. You mean to tell me you're an expert on every single facet of training? Like, if I wanted to be a bodybuilder, you could help me out with that, but also, if I wanted to play professional football, you could get me there, too?"
"Come on, man."
"No, seriously," I persisted. "Tell me. You said you could take me to "another level." How you gonna do that? I seriously want to know. What's your athletic background?"
"I've been training people for twelve years."
"That's great, but did you ever do anything? I was a Division One athlete in college. I train at gyms where professional athletes train in the offseason. I was doing front squats this summer with a guy who plays for the Detroit Lions. What were you doing that day? Some reverse wrist curls and a half hour on the elliptical?"
"You made your point, man," he said. "I'm just trying to sell gym memberships here."
"Yeah, I know you are, but I don't like your approach. It's insulting, in a way. You have the name of a major commercial chain behind you, but that doesn't mean you know what the fuck you're talking about. You can't walk up to people and assume they don't know what they're doing."
"I didn't do that."
"Sure you did," I said. "You can't tell people you'll improve on what they're doing when you don't know what they do. Save that shit for people who actually look like they need your help, you know? Especially when you're trying to sell to bouncers. Seriously. Me and Frank would show up to your gym for a training session, and start chalking up and throwing weights around, and you'd regret ever inviting us down."
"We have tons of free weights..."
"Dude, stop. Please. I know your whole game. I have a certification from the NSCA, and I don't even use the fucking thing. Commercial gyms want you to buy a membership, and then they never want to see you again. You're not interested in helping anyone unless they come down and just curl some dumbbells and do cardio for twenty minutes. Anything that doesn't wear out the equipment and increase your overhead. I wouldn't set foot in a chain gym unless you paid me to show up. Especially one in Manhattan. I'd rather eat a bowl of broken glass."
He shrugged. "Suit yourself, then."
* I've been writing on this site for so long that I can now insert links in actual conversations.