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Opinion: I signed up for a Burnaby gym. This is how it went sideways

Maybe stop with the high-pressure sales tactics
Are you a gym member?

When you look down and can no longer see your feet, it’s time to make some changes.

Same for climbing a single flight of stairs and feeling like you’re having a heart attack.

That’s where I found myself about six weeks ago when I was on vacation and feeling like hot garbage. My sleep was bad, I couldn’t even walk for a few minutes and I had constant headaches. Oh, and I refused to look at myself in the mirror.

I was complaining about how I felt and my girlfriend looked at me and said, “Well, do something about it. Stop whining.”

I hate when she’s right (she’s always right).

This led to a few days of soul searching as I fought hard against the drug that is denial. I’d like to blame the COVID-19 pandemic for putting on weight, but that’s not it. This hasn’t helped, but my struggles with weight and fatigue go back way before the pandemic ever hit.

And so, for the first times in many years, I decided to join a gym.

Let me state here first that I totally support the return to gyms. The protocols in place are good and everyone is vaccinated at the gym I signed up for. I’m not naming the Burnaby gym because I’m not trying to single out any one gym.

I’m just going to vent about how signing up for this gym went sideways and nearly ended up with me walking away (breathing heavily as I walked, of course).

When I signed up, I was paired with a person taking down my information. When things were nearly done, the guy suddenly told me about all the personal training I could sign up for with one of their specialists – for a price.

I said that I wasn’t interested in paying for personal training for at least the first couple of months. I said I would reconsider as I got over the initial few weeks of exercising.

I remember the words clearly coming out of my mouth, but it was as if I was speaking another language because the staffer got up and said he was going to get one of their trainers to speak with me.

That’s when the one of the largest men I had ever seen up close sat down in front of me. He was ginormous. His arms were like tree trunks. It was actually hysterical because he was so big he could barely sit in the tiny chair.

That’s when Mr. Personal Trainer started explaining all of the benefits of using his services. Fair enough. There are benefits to this, but I wasn’t interested, especially the extra cost that comes with these services.

After his long spiel was done, I politely declined. That’s when he got really aggressive with me, telling me I didn’t understand and I needed to listen to what he was saying. I politely declined again. You would think after me saying no twice that would end things, but this gigantic human leaned in closer and started arguing the point again.

I was this close to walking out.

Look, I get it. Gyms make big money from these services and, like I said, for some people they are very beneficial. I might even sign up down the road once I feel more comfortable. But staff need to remember how hard it can be for someone to finally take that step to sign up for the gym, especially during a pandemic.

Don’t make the experience painful. Don’t pressure people who are teetering on the edge of this decision. And maybe don’t use humungous dudes who make people feel intimidated.

Just a suggestion.

In the meantime, I’ve lost a few pounds, I’m sleeping a little better and I did several flights of stairs without feeling faint. For me, the gym is working. It’s just the hard sell I could do without.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.