enjoying the foliage

Swindled in the City

Posted on: Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So I’ve been meaning to start writing in here for quite a while, and I’m finally sufficiently angry at the world to begin.

Some background:

I am a student. A poor one at that; one indebted to the governments of Ontario and Canada for most of my adult life, by the looks of it. So I live a fairly typical poor-student existence.

This summer I’m working a full-time job in the heart of Toronto. (By “heart,” I’m referring of course to whatever happens to be my geographical location at the time, having nothing to do with other more accurate labels.) Since I’m a poor student, I need to save everything I’m earning and then some in order to pay for my next semester of schooling. This doesn’t leave much in the way of the essentials of healthy living, let alone entertainment. (Guess which is a higher priority?)

So when I checked the mail two days ago and happened upon a shiny flyer advertising “$2 PER WEEK” I naturally had to look closer. It was for the local eXtreme Fitness, and it was an offer “I couldn’t refuse.” So a short call later, I’m taking a tour of a gym with TV screens on every machine and lounges filled with leather couches and free shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the change rooms. Definitely fancier than anything I’ve been to. So the offer is $2 a week for 2 months and then *cough* $129 a month after that. Except that I have no obligation to stay longer than the two months. And I will obviously be taking full advantage of that.

So you know, I’m sold; and I now have a gym membership for the remainder of my time here for the low low price of $16.

I’m psyched because not only do I get access to things that my grubby little hands really shouldn’t have access to, I get a free fitness consultation before I start that will give me a “comprehensive overview of the steps I need to undertake in order to achieve my fitness goals.” Sweet.

I go in, meet with my fitness consultant, and proceed to engage in a series of tests that are way too reminiscent of grade 9 gym class and all of the associated humiliation and sweatiness. He also takes my measurements and body composition, reviews a list I’d prepared of foods I ate yesterday, and then makes his recommendations. He tells me very politely that I’m basically completely out of shape, have no idea about technique and could be eating much better. I agree. So he recommends a few sessions with a nutritionist and with a coach who would educate me on the proper form and technique of some basic exercises.

I know this is sales pitch, and I’m ready to reject anything and everything that isn’t free. But I try to remind myself that another $30 or $40 really wouldn’t be a bad investment if it meant I learned how to work out and eat properly. At this point he takes me to his manager because she has more detailed information on what kinds of packages would be most suited to me.

What followed was a lengthy conversation with the not-very-in-shape-either manager who told me all about the student plans they offered. She went over my options, discussed the best combination of workout sessions and coaching with the time frame I was looking at. (I was very honest that I was here for 2 months and 2 months only)

“So,” she finished, would I prefer 8 sessions with a coach and 4 with a nutritionist for 12 monthly payments of $112 or 6 sessions with a coach and 4 with a nutritionist for 12 monthly payments of only $68?


It would have been fine! It would have been fine, if she hadn’t set it up like she was doing me a favour by starting with the installment plan instead of asking for a lump sum right away. And okay, it worked a little. I did actually consider the cheaper option, because okay, 12 x 68 hadn’t yet translated to OVER 800 DOLLARS for advice. ADVICE. She made it sound like it was the most reasonable thing in the world! So I went along with it, gave it thought, asked what kinds of resources I’d be getting, and how much would I be able to take with me. Or would I be dependent on this particular gym for everything? Maybe that kind of investment would be okay, you know, if I got lifelong knowledge and tools and skills that would lead to me being toned and buff forever. Yeah, I thought, maybe that’d be worth it.

“Well, do *you* know how to do a muscle ****jargon**** evaluation? I can tell from just looking at you that you have postural problems. But you didn’t know any of that, did you?” I chuckled nervously. She said, “This isn’t a complete package by any means. Maybe if you were here longer…”

At that point I said I needed time to think, thanked her for her time, and left.

I’m sorry, but I do believe it’s possible to get fit and be healthy without having to pay thousands of dollars for it. I understand they have to offset the ridiculously low membership price they gave me. And maybe it’d make some sense if they were doing intensive tests to gauge my metabolism and the way I personally react to certain foods and certain exercises. Because okay, that would be useful information and kind of cool to know. Or maybe if the fitness consultant hadn’t made me jump through all those hoops only to conclude that a reasonable goal for my 2 months in the gym was to lose 3 pounds of fat and gain 1.5 pounds of muscle. Maybe if I was a bit heavier, possibly on the side of morbidly obese.


I’m just baffled that I live in a society where someone can talk about this kind of proposition as if it makes any kind of sense.


I have my membership; I have access to exercise machines with newly patented circular hinges and HD TV lounges; I have the internet and all of its gloriously free information; and I am going to get in shape.

For 16 dollars.

And then I will caress the manager’s face with my toned abs, cry “HA! SO THERE” and power-walk all the way to Waterloo. (Gas prices are so damned high these days.)


3 Responses to "Swindled in the City"

Yeah, that’s a little outrageous, but it’s cool that you have your $16 gym membership now. How is $800 a student plan at all? I’m fairly sure that you can figure out gym equipment and healthy eating on your own. That’s what literacy is for.

It’s a scam! Screw ’em!

This was fantastic. Please do it more often. By the way, the very last sentence is SO mike sholars. Also I enjoyed the title – in this case, is Toronto the fifth character?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: