I had a little post traumatic flashback today about an experience I had several years ago when I stopped in at a fitness center in Ames, Iowa
“How much is a membership at your gym?”
“Well, let me give you a tour of a state of the art fitness mecca and then we can talk numbers”
So how much does it cost per month?
“Let me ask you this, what is your health and wellbeing worth to you?”
(Awkward pause ensues while I contemplate if I’m supposed to actually answer this question or just agree with it.)
“What I really want to know is what are your personal health related fitness goals? Any problem areas that get you down?”
“Umm, that seems a little personal. I don’t make very much money and I have a lot of other expenses right now, so I really just stopped in to find out how much it costs.”
“Like what? What other expenses do you have that would be more important than your health…your life”
Even though I knew the tricks he was using by name, I felt trapped, like I couldn’t leave without handing over a very big check. This fast talking, muscle bound, fake-baking dude was smooth. I was very uncomfortable and he sensed my hesitancy.
“Tell you what… I don’t usually do this, but I’ll do this for you. You write me a check for this amount (first and last months payment, joining fee, access card, etc) and go home. I won’t touch the check, and I will let you think about whether you want to make this investment. I’ll give you 24 hours to think about it, and if at anytime in those 24 hours you decide you don’t want to join our gym family, give my direct line a call and I will rip up your check, no questions asked”
Ok. I did it. I wrote the check. I drove home. I called him as soon as I got home and told him to rip it up because I couldn’t afford it. And…get ready to cringe… he talked me out of it.
Every time I went to that gym I felt mad for not being assertive enough… and every time I didn’t go to the gym I felt guilty for wasting so much money… and everytime I saw the automatic withdrawls on my bank statement, I felt a little sick. I wonder what all of those negative emotions did for my health and wellbeing.
Well, that was several years ago and I like to think I’ve wised up a bit. Our previous gym didn’t have childcare. I get tired of doing workout videos at home and I can’t exactly leave the baby while I go for a run outside, so I’ve been feeling couped up. I tried to look online for gyms with childcare and I was reminded how hard it is to get a straight answer about membership costs. There were some numbers on some sites, but the little asterisk was always hanging out indicating that childcare costs extra.
So I called one gym and was very straight forward asking how much it costs for a regular membership with childcare. A cheerful lady said she would transfer me to a membership specialist (AHHh), but first needed my name, phone number, email… wait, wait, wait. Could I just find out how much it costs before giving out my information. ABSOLUTELY!! Please hold.
The voice I heard next sounded almost as suave as the guy in Ames. “What? I hadn’t seen their facility? I NEEDED to come in for a tour with my husband…” according to Suave, I was going to love it. It was so much better than anything I’d ever seen. So I asked about cost again, and he said, “Can you come in later today or tomorrow for a tour?”
“Well, I can’t schedule a tour today so could you give me a ball park range of what the cost might be so I could compare and contrast with my other options?”
“[Condescending laugh] It all depends on what day you come in for a tour because we have deals going on today and tomorrow and it’d be a lot cheaper…What day can you come in?”
“A lot cheaper than what?? I don’t know when I can come in, never if you don’t answer my question” Okay, so I didn’t say that exactly, but I didn’t schedule a tour. I also don’t buy the bit about special deals today and tomorrow. What’s so special about March 3rd and 4th? He made that up. Now I’m in a pickle because I still want a gym membership, but without the charming, conniving membership guy and without the games. That’s all.