A New Englishman In New York Part 24: Getting Scammed At The Gym

After getting swindled by the salesman, I nearly died in the back of a New York gym before hitting the emergency stop and being confronted by a naked king of the gym...
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I’m trying to lose a bit of weight. My first attempt was somewhat of a failure. I essentially tried to eat my way out of the problem. I tried one of them diets people talk too much about. That Paeleo/Caveman one. I interpreted it in my own way and chose to just eat a load of bananas everyday for a week. Instead of losing weight I gained gout. Gout. Good old medieval gout. ‘The disease of kings”.

Having been unable to walk for a week I came to the sorry conclusion that I would actually have to exercise. A dark day. So I decided that I would join a gym. A place that is not my natural habitat.

There are a lot of gyms in New York. So I chose the gym that was nearest to my home and least likely to be full of muscular beautiful people that would make me feel inferior as I wheeze and sweat on a treadmill next to them. It is also opposite a McDonalds. The second most depressing McDonalds in the world, after the one that used to be across from Debenhams at the Moor in Sheffield city centre.

So this one gym near me had a special deal. 30 days for 30 dollars. A dollar a day. I can handle that. Do it for a month, see if I even bother to go and take it from there.

My first attempt at losing weight was somewhat of a failure. I essentially tried to eat my way out of the problem.

So I walk in the gym, announce to the receptionist that I’m looking to join and am soon touring the facilities with a salesperson. He is a nice fella but full of it. He tells me how he has lost over 100 pounds so he knows all about weight loss, yet he remains about three times my size.

He asks me what my goals are.

“I just want to come in now and then, run for a bit, go on the bike for a bit and go home.” I say.

“Do you think this the sort of place where you can achieve your goals?” he asks.

I’m not sure he is listening.

“Yeah.” I say.

After the tour we sit down for business. I’m keen not to get scammed. The mythical 30 dollar deal suddenly no longer exists. Instead joining would cost over $300 dollars. I explain that I just want to try it for a month or two.

He suddenly crashes the price down to $50 for two months.

This is better. I mean, he shows me on a pad of paper by using a simple subtraction how I have just saved $250 in a matter of seconds.

He prints out the contract. I look at it. It’s a year contract.

“You just need to sign here and here and then you can start achieving your goals today.”

“But I, um, just want to do a trial.” I say.

“If you sign up for the two months we can work something out in October,” he says.

Him saying “Work something out in October” placates me enough to sign it.

“Feeling the burn man?” asks a naked gym king.

I walk out, having gone in for a cheap one-month trial, holding a yearlong gym contract in my hand. I was probably halfway home when it struck me that I had just been scammed. I’ll be honest, after that, I didn’t enjoy my McDonalds.

Having realised I had been absolutely swindled I came to the conclusion that I had better begin actually going. I haven’t exercised in a gym since a two-week trial at Cotswold Sports Centre Tilehurst in 1999.

I panic over what to wear. This is one of my main gripes with going to the gym. I settle on as nondescript an outfit as possible and head over. Walking in I’m already regretting my decision. The gym, awful, the noise of machines, the heavy breathing, the sweaty stink of the male locker room and the intolerable beeping of popular music.

I wander to the corner where no one can see me and get on a bike. Twenty minutes. Starts off ok but soon I’m a sweaty red-faced mess. Worse still the view from the bike is the McDonalds. The evil clown taunting me from my stationary cycle.

Should try the treadmill. 5 minutes on that and I have to press the emergency stop button, as I feel light headed and my eyes have blurred over. Am now convinced I’m going to faint. I struggle off the machine and waddle to the male changing room. I sit down in a corner and stare at the floor till my focus comes back.

“Feeling the burn man?” asks a naked gym king.

I turn to him. Beads of sweat covering my scalp like a water wig, ashen faced, my left leg involuntarily shaking and nod.

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