I hated PE at school (you could usually find me in the locker room with a book), and had naturally assumed I was allergic to sports. But when I started yoga four years ago, I amazed myself: I immediately loved it.
Canada is a car country, and winters are long and cold. It’s harder to exercise outdoors and it’s not often possible to walk from point A to point B. I quickly understood that I had to make a conscious effort to exercise in order to stay healthy.
Shortly after coming to Canada, I joined the YMCA. But I quickly got bored with the machines, half of them bearing cryptic instructions. Then I found a yoga studio and never looked back. In 2010, I started hot yoga. Sweating like a pig in a very hot room full of strangers might not sound so fun but I found it liberating. Not to mention that yoga is a good workout and it isn’t so much about meditation (phew!) but rather about building flexibility, strength and balance.
Unfortunately, yoga has become popular in Ottawa. Not as popular as the Lululemon store at the Rideau Centre where hipsters pay $200 for sweatpants, but popular enough that classes are getting very crowded and very expensive.
Heartbroken, I decided to look for a cheaper alternative.
My first thought was to join the YMCA again. But at $60 a month, the membership was more expensive than I remembered it to be, and the class schedule wasn’t too practical for me. I kept this option as a plan B.
My plan A was Goodlife Fitness, a gym with several locations in Ottawa. The membership fee being one of my main criteria, I went online to see how much it was. Surprise surprise, the fees were nowhere to be found. Instead, those interested in joining Goodlife where asked to provide their info to be contacted about plan rates.
Not being the patient kind, I went to one of the Goodlife clubs (the one at the Rideau Centre) to ask directly about membership fees.
“Take a sit, fill this out and someone will be with you shortly,” instructed the woman at the front desk.
I looked at the paper she handed me. Full name, phone number, email, address, signature… I wrote down my name and signed, assuming the rest was optional.
The woman looked over my shoulder and frowned. “You gotta fill out e-very-th-ing.”
I love when people treat me like an idiot.
“I just want to know the price of a membership,” I argued. “You don’t need my contact info for that.”
She sighed. Clearly, I wasn’t getting it.
“We are gonna give you a tour of the gym. This is a waiver. It’s compulsory. By law.” She stressed the last word, as if to impress me. She failed. I wrote down I lived on Sunset Blvd, Strawberry Fields, ON. What? It sounded nice. Sue me.
Two minutes later, the local male bodybuilder/personal trainer took a sit in front of me. Subtle. Sent a guy for a female “applicant.”
“How is your nutrition?”
He looked up at me, as if to guess when I last had French fries.
“What?” I protested. “I eat my broccoli!”
“Why do you want to join a gym?”
“I’m going to a yoga studio but I’m looking for a cheaper alternative,” I answered honestly.
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a freelancer.”
“Who are your clients?”
This is none of your fucking business. “It depends,” I deflected.
I looked at the piece of paper on which he had actually scribbled “it depends.”
He kept on asking questions, all more personal than the next. Remember that at this stage, I just wanted to know how much the membership was. Right there, I decided I did not want to get a membership there. If I had to take an entire survey just to know the prices, I would probably have to share my DNA to exercise there.
Eventually, the guy mumbled something about the price, quoting a bi-weekly rate. “The contract is here,” he added. “I just need your signature.”
“I don’t want to sign a contract,” I replied. “I just wanted to know the price of a membership. Thank you for the information.”
“Wait! You will never get that rate again!”
“That’s fine. I’m not ready to sign a one-year contract on the spot.”
“I just need your banking information.”
“And I just needed to know the membership rate. I’m not signing a contract today.”
“You are passing on a great deal.”
“I’m taking my chance.”
I later found this article when I did a quick search on Goodlife. Can’t say I’m surprised.