Earlier this week, my cell phone rang. I have severe phone phobia, which is the term I just made up to describe how I ignore my phone whenever it rings no matter who's calling, be it Ed McMahon or my own mother (who, to her credit, never calls me anymore since I started sitting in her living room 19 hours a day). That day, though, I felt a little wild from my mid-morning nitrous balloon and decided to pick up.
The perky voice on the other end was a woman from my new/temporary/I'munemployedandneedahobby gym, hoping to schedule my "free" personal training session that I, as an esteemed new gym member, am entitled to.
Gyms always throw these little pretend freebies at you, hoping you'll believe that they're honestly just giving you a special gift for signing up. But I know better - personal trainers can't work any magic in one session. And even if they could, they wouldn't. It's a set-up, designed to inform me how bad my body mass index sucks and OMG if I really want to have back problems later in life I should just keep doing my bicep curls LIKE THAT. Information that'll scare me into buying ten easy sessions for the low low price of $750.
I've politely declined "free" initial training sessions at various gyms over the years. But since I don't actually have a job right now, "free" things are no longer ignored, no matter how manipulative they may be under the surface. Free is free. And so the perky personal trainer and I set up an appointment to meet later in the week.
She was appropriately fit in person, which was a nice bonus. We talked about how I don't have any injuries, and that I've always wanted my arms to be a little more defined, and how drinking eight glass of water a day is really important. I liked her, even though she said things like "organic food is 40% more nutritious than regular food," and "soy milk is bad for you because it raises estrogen levels". We did some flexibility tests. I even let her weigh me. But then she pulled out some contraption that measured my fat by pinching it in a vice-like grip and started recording all the humiliating details in a file labeled "Sarah Lane".
"You know, before we go any further, I really should tell you that I'm not interested in paying for personal training sessions," I informed her as sweetly as I could. "I mean, I appreciate you starting a file and writing down all my info and everything, but I just don't want there to be any confusion about why I'm here."
She's used to this, of course, and took my rejection as an opportunity to launch into a robotic speech about levels and foundations and building blocks and pieces of the puzzle - or, reasons that I needed to pay her to watch me do squats. She showed me her accreditation folder, and even a few before/after pics of happily thinner clients. She implied for the fifth time that I really couldn't reach my goals without professional guidance.
I started to feel bad. I'm sure that this woman is an awesome personal trainer, I really am, but this part of her job must really be crappy. Having to switch into sales pitch mode to convince people like me that we need to shell out hundreds of dollars to feel better about ourselves, knowing full well that we won't follow up. I almost felt bad enough to buy a five-session package and spare her the desperation. Almost.
Instead, I thanked her for her time, went home, and ate half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.