17 October 2006

Gym guilt trip

The way to riches for any gym owner is paved with the good intentions of others. Buy why does not going make you feel so guilty? And why don't you just cancel your membership?

I was brave the other night. I turned down a special offer of a gym contract offered on the phone. I am not the gym type, even though I should be.

What was surprising, is that the tele-canvasser was obviously not used to being turned down, unlike those unfortunates selling paving and life insurance. It seems to be a national sport to be rude to these last two types. The script of the gym guy did not include a standard response to, “Sorry, I’m not interested”. He spluttered, sounded deeply distressed – and he put the phone down on me. Made for a nice change.

If you are one of those people who get it together to go to the gym at six in the morning six days a week – well good for you. Let us know how you do it without losing your marbles. Oh yes, and I have a couple of single friends who might want your telephone number.

Paying for nothing
And then there’s the rest of us. Still paying for your gym contract, even though you haven’t been there for years? In fact, by now you’re hardly recognisable from the photo on your access card. And it’s not just because you’ve gained 12 kilos – your hair is actually a different colour now, through no doing of your own.

The way to riches for any gym owner is paved with the good intentions of others.

Many people pay a fortune to join gyms in January, in a flurry of good intentions and New Year’s resolutions. And they go a few times. Gyms are never as full as they are in mid-January. By the way, I have often wondered what would happen if everyone who is a gym member pitched at the same time. (A friend has informed me that it does happen at 5.30 p.m. every year on 15 January.)

And then reality and the creative excuses set in. Among these are, “I’m not feeling so great”, “Maybe tomorrow”, “I need to sleep in”, “I have a headache”, “My gym gear is in the wash” and for the more honest among us, “I just simply can’t face it”.

No cancellations or refunds
But excuses or no excuses, few people get it together to cancel the gym contract or the debit order. There’s something so final in doing this. It destroys hope and possibility and forces you to accept that you’ll probably never get your twenties-body back. So you keep on paying and paying and paying in order to keep your dreams alive.

Cancelling this would be a bit like stopping buying Lotto tickets, or deregistering from the weight loss organisation, even though you’re still 18 kilos away from goal weight. Or going off the Pill, even though you’re spectacularly single. These are admissions of defeat, and no one enjoys such an experience.

So what now?

There are a few options you have if you do decide to cancel the High Hopes Gym’s debit order. You can wallow in misery, finally make peace with a larger clothing size, save all the gym money and pay for liposuction or get used to being single. Or you could save up the money and see a motivational therapist.

But wait, that’s not all. You can also start walking, or buy an exercise bike for your backyard – or renew that gym membership and get a personal trainer. Ra ra ra! If I carry on in this manner, I will be frothing at the mouth soon.

But don’t do it in January, because then no one will take you seriously. Not after last year.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, October 2006)


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