One of the first gyms I ever worked at was without doubt one of the strangest, if not the strangest I’ve ever seen let alone worked at! The gym manager didn’t even workout himself, and had no interest in doing so, he owned several successful businesses, and claimed this was the future for gyms, but clearly didn’t understand the concept of how a gym should look. As this gym was located in a not so nice area of town it attracted the not so nice people. Shoplifting was soon to be a regular problem.
As you entered the gym the very first thing you saw even before the reception was a little area almost like a corner store that sold everything from candy to soda etc. His theory was why not sell everything to make extra money, once word got around it actually worked as it became very busy with people choosing to buy their junk food from the gym rather than the corner store, mainly because he was undercutting the local corner stores, who were seriously not happy! Good business it seemed, but junk food in a gym? Just something about that doesn’t seem right somehow.
Part of my duties as a personal trainer in this crazy gym-apart from training people-was to unload trucks bringing in all this crap, stock the shelves and manage endless amounts of worthless paperwork! Plus chase shoplifters all over town until we caught them, at least that was the gym manager’s theory but certainly not mine, or anyone else’s that worked there!
As I was getting paid a really crap wage and working crazy hours I certainly wasn’t going to play the hero by putting myself at risk by tackling some crazy shoplifter, there had already been several instances of shoplifters beating and even stabbing the gym staff! The gym manager was too tight to pay for official security but expected us to do it. My way of thinking was if they could get away with stealing something…good luck to them! I certainly wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it!
That being said, it still didn’t stop us from having some fun chasing them though, at least until we were out of sight of the gym then run into the nearest pub, have a quick pint, then go back to the gym telling them we had chased them into the town center but couldn’t catch them as they had a friend in a car waiting to pick them up.
The gym manager would fall for it every time and would actually give us gift certificates in thanks for our help! It got us out of that crazy place for an hour, get a pint and return empty handed and get rewarded, this happened so many times, but he never stopped to think why we never actually caught anyone…ever!
It was quite a regular occurrence to hear the girl on reception put the call out of “Staff announcement, code 51” which was our secret code to say get ready someone’s about to do a runner, or already taken off with stolen goods. So we were expected to drop everything and chase after them and bring back the precious goods they had stolen….Whatever!
On this particular occasion a young kid of about 16 had stolen a few packs of cigarettes and made it out of the gym, so me and two of my work friends were in hot pursuit straight across the parking lot heading towards the town center, the kid was crapping himself as he couldn’t out run us, we always gave them a head start as we had no intentions of catching them so always made sure we were out of sight of the gym before we eased off, this is where the kid stopped and looking shit scared, holding his hands up and out of breath saying “Ok you got me I give in, here’s the cigarettes I stole, I’m sorry”
We ran straight past him laughing and kept on running up the road to the nearest pub! I always remember looking back and seeing this kid flying back down the road like the devil was after him! Within seconds he had got his second wind going from exhaustion to shock! He couldn’t believe his luck that day.
This was a regular occurrence in that gym, and it carried on like that for another 3 months, then thankfully the gym manager sold the business to someone else, who of course immediately closed down the little store, much to the relief of us, not to mention the local corner stores and attempted to make the gym look like a proper gym as it should have been in the first place. No more junk food sold in that gym!
Funny thing was, the old gym manager always told us he would open a chain of these new style gyms saying “Mark my words, this is the future of gyms” well, thankfully that wasn’t the case.
What’s the strangest gym you ever worked at or attended? And what made it so strange? And is it still successfully operating despite its difference?