Friday, October 23, 2009

Divinipotent About Deadly Salesmen

"The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people."
~ Tom Peters

Divinipotent Daily is thinking of running a want ad. It would look something like this:

Although the "no pool" clause rules out both YMCAs and the New York City Parks Department's fabulously inexpensive recreation centers, finding a gym like that should be easy. This is New York City, one subway stop from midtown, not Loup County, Nebraska.

The truth is, however, Divinipotent Daily's neighborhood has no history with gyms. The Italian and Irish families who once dominated the area did quite enough physical working out on the job, thank you. And while gyms are among the amenities offered by the luxury high-rises that have sprung up here like Brobdingnagian kudzu on a southern roadside, they are for residents alone.

"Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman — not the attitude of the prospect."
~ W. Clement Stone

And so it came to pass that yesterday Divinipotent Daily stopped to check out a second-floor gym she noticed on her way to lunch with a friend. The lures: the flapping of colorful "Grand Opening" flags overhead and the "$24.99 a month!" sign on the sidewalk. Semi-convenient? Check. Cheap? Check. Likelihood of having a pool: zero. Likelihood of having treadmills and other contraptions: high.

“The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character.”
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

She should have known life is rarely that simple. The last time she attempted to see what a gym had to offer, the management insisted she fill out forms and choose a membership plan first. Well, no. No thank you.

“The gyms you go to are crowded with guys trying to look like men, as being a man means looking the way a sculptor or an art director says. Like Tyler says, even a soufflĂ© looks pumped.”
~ Chuck Palahniuk

At the top of the industrial-style stairs it was deja-vu all over again. Two extremely fit young gym managers insisted that forms be filled out prior to even a peek at the gym equipment and, within moments, Divinipotent Daily was out the door.

Is this a gym-industry trend? Is some "expert" advising gym owners that creating barriers to doing business is a good idea? Surely they've noticed that clothing stores don't make you fill out a form before showing you their store windows. Do restaurants demand your name, address, age and health issues before showing you a menu? They do not.

This peculiar attitude is especially self-defeating today, when for the first time in decades, U.S. citizens would rather save than spend. Gym industry, snap out of it.

And so the quest continues.

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
 ~ Muhammad Ali

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