Desparately Seeking Structure…

He Sells Sold Sanctuary…

I have recently transitioned from a very simple, albeit very structured life in southern California, to a simple yet ever-changing life in Colorado – in pursuit of new structure all the while.

The cornerstone of structure in my life has been exercise, strength training in particular. Since the last couple of decades have found me working out on my own equipment in my own studios, structure has been a non-issue. I have called my studio, The Sanctuary, for good reason.

Sanctuary...?  More like the Thanktuary...

Sanctuary…? More like the Thanktuary…

In Colorado I no longer have my Sanctuary. Hell, I don’t even have a home yet. I have been camped out with good manners and low expectations with those who have been willing to host me, and grateful for their goodwill.

My daily strength training has also been at the good will of others – guest passes and day use fees at local fitness centers and public recreation centers which are numerous in the Denver area. I have even been making use of a small apartment gym at the place I am currently staying.

Despite this lack of a singular and consistent place to workout these past few months, I am proud to have consistently met my workouts, making the most from whatever resources I can find, wherever I can find them.

Lost In The Bally Of Hope…

I had registered online for a 7 day guest pass at a nearby Bally Sport Fitness Center. Shortly after I registered I began receiving phone calls from Bally’s employees wanting me to come in and activate my guest pass. This was to be expected – they are there to make money and I have no problem with that.

Tired frustrated with the apartment gym I had been using, one evening I decided to head to Bally’s to activate my pass and try the place out. I used the navigation on my smartphone so there would be no problem finding the club.

“You will reach your destination in 600 feet” said the voice on my phone. WalMart…? There’s a Bally’s in WalMart…? No. BUT, there I was in the WalMart parking lot having arrived at my destination. I was frustrated and confused. I switched from smartphone navigation to the navigation system of the car I had used to get there. Five minutes later I found myself at the same Walmart with nearly twice the frustration. I returned home for a beer in hopes of a do-over the following day.

Confirming the address from the Bally’s website, I headed off yet again to Bally’s WalMart. Crap. This time I called Bally’s and asked their location from where I was. “Are you on Exposition Street?” the man on the phone asked. “Yes” I said, “I am”.

He replied, “Oh, we moved a while back. We’re now on Abilene about a mile further south. Our website just hasn’t been updated yet”.


It wasn’t always here, but here it is…

One might think a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars would update their website more regularly. All is well that ends well though, and I arrived at the new Bally’s. It is a gorgeous club. Since it was early in the morning, the young man behind the counter was the only one there and not able to activate my guest pass. I quickly paid a $10 guest fee and took in a great workout.

Noah Time For Old Men…

The following morning I went again in hopes to activate my Bally’s guest pass. Noah, a baby faced trainer/sales team member barely out of his teens was there to greet me. Noah toured me the club from top to bottom but did nothing on the tour to truly engage me. He then escorted me to a computer kiosk where he asked a series of computer generated questions involving my personal fitness.

Let’s be clear, though I am not currently at 8% body fat or in prime bodybuilding shape, it should be obvious to anyone who sees me that I take strength training very seriously and have been at it for a while. This went completely unnoticed by young Noah. In fairness, I did not introduce myself as a career fitness trainer, but I was sleeveless and obvious.

Noah asked the basic questions; my age, weight, medical history, where I thought my fitness level was, what my goals were, etc. I just went along and answered honestly, “I currently strength train 4-5 days per week, ride my bike 17-23 mile every-other-day, and eat very well most of the time.” As he entered this information into the computer a chart came up alongside a silhouette which resembled me fairly well; athletic. The corresponding chart suggested I was in excellent health.

Twenty miles out, and I needed a rest.  Yup, I should probably hire a trainer...

Twenty miles out, and I needed a rest. Yup, I should probably hire a trainer…

At this Noah began to ask me about goals. I explained that I’m in my 50s and that my only goals in exercise are enjoyment and sustainability.  Without hearing a word I said or taking a good look at me, Noah took time to explain that statistics show that less than 3% of people who don’t work with trainers ever reach their goals. However, people who work with a trainer are 88% more likely to realize goals.

I’m not going to question those statistics today. I’ll leave that for another day. What I do question take exception to is what happened when I declined the possibility of working with Noah as my trainer.

Hit The Road Jumping Jack…

I explained to Noah that I had been working out on my for over 40 years and that despite that I see great value in using a trainer for some, I didn’t I feel I needed one. I just wanted to activate my guest pass and check out the club as a potential consumer. Noah explained that since I had been in the club the day before, and paid a day-use fee, I was no longer eligible for a guest pass. My only options he said, were to buy a membership or leave. I left.

I have been in and out of the fitness industry since 1981 or so. Since that time I have been a trainer, in sales, management, and ownership. What transpired with Noah didn’t surprise me, it simply put me in a very bad mood.

This pass entitles holder to one swift ejection...

This pass entitles holder to one swift ejection…

The following day I received a phone call from a different employee of the club – inviting me to come in and activate my guest pass. “No. No thank you” I said. I’ll simply write this this essay, post it to my blog, and send it along to Bally’s Director of Brand Management and await the litigation.

This is just one more reason why, despite my affinity for the fitness industry, I will remain its largest skeptic critic. Be well… rc


Please take a moment to scroll back to the top and rate this essay honestly.  Thank you.

Please check back every so often to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Slade.  Enjoy…

12 responses

  1. I have a difficult time with even the thought of having to pay to workout. That kid Noah is part of the system. Sad to say he was not in tune with who you,he just saw dollar signs.With one look at you,my questions would have been,Why do you want to work out here and what would like to experience out of Ballys? With your experience in this industry you have every right to be critical,as we all should be. Because at this point of paying to workout at a Ballys facility we’re all just Consumers and paid Customer Members. Critic you may be because of the Bally’s way of mismanaging.

  2. Sorry, I’m behind on my reading, Roy. This made me laugh out loud! Not at your misfortune, but at your retelling of it. It sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch. Or a sitcom plot.

    Are you sure you haven’t stumbled unwittingly into your own sitcom?

    What happens when a seasoned fitness trainer, well-versed in the ways of the world, locks dumbbells with a greenhorn, fresh from the farm, fitness center lackey? Non-stop belly laughs, that’s what happens! And that’s what YOU’LL get when YOU tune in to “Roy and Noah”! A heartwarming tale of two unlikely friends on a journey of life, learning, and laughs…in a Fitness Center! This fall at 9/8 central.

    Now, if we’re sticking with 1980s tv plots, you probably need to commit some sort of minor offense that requires you to work your punishment off at the fitness center (else, why would you stick around to impart your knowledge on young, baby-faced Noah?) or maybe you owe a debt and this is the only way you can work it off?

    Well, whatever. I’m sure the plot will work itself out. You have time before the premiere.

    Keep an ear out for the laugh track, next time your GPS sends you to a big box store parking lot.

    • Thank you, Shannon. Sweet Jeebus, please don’t ever feel like to are obligaed to comment on these. I appreciate that you take the time, and the means much to me. But I also know you spend a lot of time these days in camo, hidden in the apple trees, with your weapon and night vision scope protecting your apples, so we’re good.

      As far as the TV plot goes, I was thinking more reality show. I attempted to turn the video camera of my phone on several times during the encounter with Noah, but I couldn’t do it.

      Perhaps I can use this essay as a draft for a pilot to be filmed in Omaha, where I have plenty of friends willing to work as extras. 😉

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