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Commercial Health Club Hassles

By Mike Westerdal

Commercial health clubs and gyms can be great but they can also be a huge hassle, jam-packed with little annoyances and major headaches that can just about put you over the edge. Call me strange but I go to a gym to train, not to look for conversation, watch guys strutting around in short shorts that would make Daisy Duke blush or listen to unsolicited advice from out of shape, opinionated loud-mouths.

Today I want to spotlight a few of the most annoying things that can come from having a gym membership and talk about some of what goes on there that than can drive you nuts.

Sometimes, just having a gym membership can be a hassle. And good luck if you move or need to cancel for some reason. I've had friends who have had to keep paying for years-long membership commitments even though the gym had gone bankrupt and was no longer in business. And with a lot of gyms-especially some of the big chains-you can forget about freezing your membership if you want to take an extended vacation or are just otherwise going to be out of commission for a while.

Commercial Health Club Hassles It is an understatement to say that the employees at some gyms can be enough to make you want to go ballistic. Too many of them seem to think that they're doing you a favor just by showing up to work.

The quality of personal trainers at some gyms seems to have gone way downhill over the years too. I've seen plenty who I wouldn't trust to train an inflatable CPR dummy strutting around offering unsolicited and very bad (really bad) advice to people who unfortunately, don't know any better. There's nothing like getting training advice about proper form from a freshly-minted 18-year-old personal trainer who couldn't lift a 100-pound dumbbell if his life depended on it.

And it's too bad, but not everyone who goes to the gym is there to train. Some of them are there just so they chat with their friends. Others want to hit on anything that moves and some just want to show off or otherwise practice their strange behavior in public. Every gym on the planet seems to have at least one guy who wears shorts so tiny they'd make a $5 hooker look twice. And entire books could be written about the strange and annoying behavior some people seem hell-bent on displaying in the locker room. I'll just stop there except to say that I've seen enough to last me three lifetimes.

If you don't bring your own IPOD or MP3 player, you're going to be stuck listening to the gym's choice of tunes, whether or not you like their choices. Once, I bought a week pass but ripped it to shreds when I realized that the gym only played their own compilations of "motivational" music with nauseating lyrics like "you can do it, yes you can," and "try just a little bit harder, you've know you've got it in you," repeated endlessly over and over. Now I listen to the music before I buy my pass when I'm traveling.

And even if you do bring your own music, that's no guarantee that you'll be able to focus and workout in peace. Plenty of people don't seem to take headphones as a definitive sign of "leave me alone." I'm willing to cut some slack if a guy politely taps me on the shoulder because he needs a spot and there's no one else around, but some people just because they want to talk. I've come real close to clocking a few guys in the nose because they couldn't get it through their thick skulls that when I'm wearing headphones, I'm not interested in conversation.

I'll wrap this up by saying that the "real" gyms, where a guy can go and train with a bunch of other like-minded folk who are there for the same reason, are fewer and fewer and a lot harder to find. Nowadays the landscape is cluttered with jumbo-sized gyms that are built to appeal to the masses, not the serious trainer. They pay their people minimum wage so you don't get the service you deserve and they're full of people who are there for lots of other reasons besides wanting to train. These and a host of other annoyances can make it really frustrating to have a gym membership. As you can probably tell I had an annoying day at the gym today. Thanks for listening to my rant.


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About The Author

Dumbbell Routines and ExercisesMike Westerdal is the author of the first and original...

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