Back in February I was looking for a gym to join to help me to get into better shape. I have work out videos and weights at home, but I was looking for some more motivation. I’ll admit I just called around out of my phone book to find out pricing for gyms in my neighborhood. I never once thought to look into reviews about any of these gyms. I was one of many consumers to fall into the trap of commercialism. So the one place that stuck out in my head was “Curves for women” because there are a lot of television advertisements for that particular work out center. So I called my local”Curves for women” hoping to get a price quote for a membership. Just like most of the other work out centers I called before they are not interested in giving you a quote over the phone. They want you to set up an appointment in person. Now that I know better the reason is because it is easier for someone to sell you something in person then over the phone. I now refer to this as the hook, line and sinker tactic. Much like that of a cars salesman, I don’t think there is a car dealer who has ever sold a car to someone over the phone. If there was then they had to be the most talented sales person in the universe.
Any way I went in for an appointment a few days later and met with the owner. The first thing I should have realized is that she was way too enthusiastic. I have no problem with enthusiasm, but hers just seemed exaggerated. Another thing was I had brought a friend with me and she had a problem with something else. Her problem was that the owner was definitely heavier then we were. I know that may have seemed rude for her to be bothered by that, but once I thought about it she may have had a valid point. I guess the point was if someone owns a fitness center then they probably care about being healthy and in good shape. So if she owned a fitness center and presented herself to be so out of shape, you have to wonder if she is only in it for the money. Unfortunately for myself I didn’t put that much thought into it at the time and just let it go.
So then she takes us to the back of the gym and starts asking a bunch of health questions and takes measurements, the whole nine yards. By the time you are done with the whole process they have you feeling like a fat slob who will die in the next 10 years if you don’t do something about it right then and there. Then they tell you that joining requires signing a 1 year contract. I told her that I needed time to think about it, but she told me that if I didn’t sign it then the amount of my membership would go up because I wouldn’t get the promotional pricing. If I would have brought my brain with me to this meeting I would have asked what 24 hours to think about had to do with the price. The problem was that she had me feeling so bad about myself that I wasn’t using rational thought at that time. So before I knew it I was signing my life away for a year and giving her access to my bank account to take out automated payments every month. That was one of the times that I wish the V8 people were there to give me a big slap in the head, but they only exist in the commercials.
So a few days later I showed up for my initial work out. I waited quite a while for the instructor to teach me how the circuit works. The reason I waited so long is because everyone including the instructors are too focused on gossiping with everyone else then they are on the work out. I didn’t let it discourage me though I just decided I wasn’t going to fall into the gossiping part of it. So the instructor gave some vague instructions as she seemed inconvenienced by the fact she has to show someone the routine. Oh well I caught on by myself and finished the circuit after 3 rounds. I did notice that my back wasn’t feeling too great nor were my shoulders. There is one machine that you do squats on that puts a lot of resistance on your shoulders. I just thought wow I am more out of shape then I originally thought. I figured it was nothing that a nice long warm bath and stretching could not fix. The other thing I noticed was I had an irregular heart beat shortly after I left. I did not think it was anything to worry about at the time, but it was. I will explain more about that further in to the story.
The next day I was doing some cleaning around the house and when I bent over to scrub the toilet I got stuck into a hunched position. So I had to go to the hospital to do something about it. The ER doctor gave me some pain shots and a prescription for muscle relaxants. He also told me to rest for about 10 days and not use all of the equipment at curves. I was feeling a little better 2 days later, but not the greatest. So I set up an appointment with a chiropractor. The chiropractor told me it would be at least 6 weeks before he had me ready to go back to the gym. OK so I was losing 6 weeks of my membership money, not a big deal. Before my 6 weeks was up I found myself with an unplanned and high risk pregnancy. Those of you who have read any of my other articles also know that I was diagnosed with 2 blood clotting disorders at that time.
Now it is good to get exercise when you have a clotting disorder. However you must first check with your health care provider. The reason is because clotting disorders of course increase your risk of a heart attack of stroke. Remember when I said that I had an irregular hear beat after my work out. Well that was a warning sign that my exercise is to be monitored by a health care professional. Curves for women of course do not employ health care workers to monitor the people who are working out. Most gyms don’t, you would have to go to a work out center at a hospital or physical therapy clinic. Also I would need a heart monitor, blood pressure monitor and a machine to measure my oxygen saturation. This is all to ensure they I am not going to keel over from a heart attack or stroke in the middle of my work out. That being said I was given a doctors order to discontinue my membership for at least 9 months. According to my contract if I had a doctors order that stated I could not utilize my membership in an excess of 6 months this would give me the right to cancel my contract without penalty.
Seeing that I was ordered to bed rest at the time my husband went in with my doctor’s order. The doctor’s order was quickly denied and they gave my husband a form titled “Request for Freeze” to bring home to me.
Here is what the request for freeze states:
The leave request may not be considered approved until the member has received the returned signed and approved form. I understand that the minimum freeze is 1 month and the maximum freeze is 2 months. I also understand that this does not freeze my payments. My drafts will be deducted and then I will receive my time back at the end of my membership.
Of course I signed no such thing because it was basically suggesting that I pay for a year membership and get 2 months out of it. So I called them right away and the girl didn’t seem surprised when I said it was a violation of my contract. She told me she would have the owner take care of it. Well apparently she didn’t because I noticed that they continued taking payments out of my account. I decided to let it go because I was told do to my conditions to avoid stress as much as possible. If anything I considered it an expensive lesson learned. That In the future I would look into a company and all the details before signing any kind of contract.
Everything was fine and dandy until I got a letter stating that my bank would not allow them to take out the monthly payment. So now they were demanding that I not only send them a payment, but that I also pay the returned check fee. So I decided then I wasn’t going to let go of the fact that they breached my contract to begin with anymore. I was quick to send an email to cooperate explaining my situation and of course I emailed the owner of the location I was a member of. Corporate responded to me promptly, but said that the owner would have to resolve the problem. However I am still waiting for a written response from the owner. In the mean time I have written a formal request that my membership be cancelled do to the fact that she broke the law in the first place by breaching my contract. I can only hope that she responds and validates my request. However if she doesn’t I will just bring it to the attention of the BBB and the local district attorney.
Fortunately I have had articles published in the front page of our local news paper in the past. I don’t think it would be a problem for me to type up an article intriguing enough about this situation to reach the front page once again. If she decides to continue to dishonor my contract I will at least get the satisfaction of knowing that the amount of money I lost will not measure to the amount of business she will lose.
I have read a great deal of stories similar to mine on Epinions.com. Another thing that I noticed is women usually join because they are too self conscious to join a regular gym. Think about this for a moment there are television shows like “Fat march” and “The biggest loser” that are very popular. The people on these shows are exposing themselves to millions of viewers, so don’t let the fact that one gym member might give you a funny look discourage you. Another thing that I have learned is if you are looking for a great value then join your local YMCA. They don’t only cost less then the average gym, but they also have a lot more to offer for your money. Plus you don’t have to sign a contract to join the YMCA.