I joined a 24-hour gym for their affordability and convenience, only to find they have THE stupidest rules! It's so aggravating because my husband and I go through all the daily discipline of eating right, logging our meals into our daily food diary, drinking all our water, and taking our vitamins--you name it, we do it. We are on a mission. And this is not some new year resolution high we're on either. We've been members at this gym since August, and since August, we have been hassled by one thing or another. You tell me what you think.
For starters, you can't wear bandanas. You know? The scarfs with the white paisley print? Yeah, completely unacceptable here. I guess this gym has some sort of notion that bandanas will evoke some gang rival war cry, so they're out. Never mind the fact that my husband and I both have locs with long, coiled hair down our backs, and need something to keep it out of our faces, for which usually, people wear a bandana to do this. And, if you're anything like me (of which my husband says most people are NOT) I have my scarves to match my workout gear. (Preferably Nike only please. Thanks for the Target Christmas exercise outfit Ma. I will wear it to do housework). I mean, for real? This is not Compton and bandanas as gang attire is so 80s. Okay, so that's one. No bandanas.
Then there's the you can't make loud noises (grunting as they have it posted on their walls) while exercising; and should you slam your weights down after challenging yourself with a heavy set, they blare a loud siren to signal you to quiet down. Yes. You read that correctly. If you make too much noise, they make an even louder noise to signal you to be quiet. And this sound is nothing nice. It sounds like an emergency tornado warning.
Now I'm no Hulk Hogan, or Williams' pro tennis athlete. But excuse me. Have you ever quietly put down tens to hundreds of pounds lightly and gently, especially if you have challenged your muscle to failure to where you can't lift it anymore? Typically, one may drop them. And loudly. I might also mention that this is a training principle for muscular strength. Plus, speaking of the Williams sisters. Have you ever heard them on the court? They make noise. They grunt. They exhale as they swing. It gives you power! And I do it all the time! I won't even get into the science of exhaling while exercising and how it engages your core and utilizes ab muscles. No. I won't even go there! So yeah. Number two: Your weights can't make loud noises, or you WILL receive the loud siren.
Then there's the "no stability balls to be used outside of the ab area". Excuse me? Hello Mr. Oz? Has anyone who's made these rules ever read anything about exercise? Do YOU people exercise? And not the expert Dr. Oz. I'm addressing Mr. Oz, the clown behind the curtain who made these stupid rules. Dear Sirs. If you read ANY article on core training, you will find that the best way to do this is to incorporate various exercises which engage your core muscles into other exercises commonly performed. For instance, instead of doing a basic bench press, you could do this same thing laying supine (face up) on a stability ball with dumb bells, or at the cables, or following a bench press, or any other myriad ways. But at this place, they declare like the Vegas cop in the first Hangover: "Not up in here! NOT up in here!" Which makes this number 3: No stability balls on the gym floor.
- Oh yeah. There's more...
Now we get into the "You can't bring in outside equipment to the gym." Now, if you're like me, you would interpret this to mean you can't bring in a heavy bag or a trampoline, or a medicine ball and big things like that. Or, maybe even that you can't bring in boxing gloves, or jump ropes, or push up bars, and the like.
Now, the heavy bag and trampoline makes sense. As for the rest of these items, these are all acceptable forms of fitness gear to help one exercise. But THIS isn't even what they are referring to! No. They actually sent one of their no-fitness-minded-minions up to me to tell me that I couldn't use my resistance bands! This was, of course, after he first asked my husband and I, "What is a resistance band?" It was at that moment that I wondered how many calories would I burn by knocking the blank out of this man, but then I just decided to practice active meditation by putting my bands away and my headphones back in my ear to get back into my peace zone, before I expended some energy on him.
- The thing is, I find all of these rules to be aggravating, irritating, and stupid, and dare I say, RACIST. This place is on the South side of Chicago in a ghost town of mall where obesity is rampant and people should be encouraged to use any form of assistance they can to help them exercise. Hello gym-rule-making idiots! It's not the color of the scarf that sets off gang behavior! The tattoos splattered all over people's bodies could easily do more harm than any scarf. Are you going to make a rule where noone with tattoos can join? And, yes, I'll grant you that you may have gyms all over with the same stupid rules, but the thing is, these rules are still stupid no matter where you are! But do you really think people are being told in Naperville, Skokie, Downer's Grove, or Highland Park that they can NOT use resistance bands in the gym or wear a certain scarf?
Why not tell overweight people whose thongs are showing that THAT is against a rule? Or better yet, talk to people about the "sweat suits" and tell them not to wear those because every piece of research has proven they DON'T WORK so that they don't dehydrate themselves and fall out somewhere!?!?! Or here's one. How about...to honor one's neighbor while exercising, kindly inform the people that colognes, body sprays, and perfumes can be an irritant to others--especially mixed in with body funk!!!
Plus, how about getting qualified staff who are friendly, welcoming, and kind? This leads me into my encounter with their trainer, who takes the personal OUT of personal training.
So here I am working out with my friend, and Cindy Sue, as I have not-so affectionately named her, asks me if I am a trainer. Her client was observing how I was giving my friend feedback to correct her form because everybody in fitness knows form follows function, and her client looked dejected as if to say, "You don't correct ME like that." Anyway, Cindy Sue asks me if I'm a trainer, and because I used to train for other gyms and have a degree in Exercise Science, I politely answer "yes," thinking we are about to have some nice dialogue about helping people, and she goes completely ballistic (not with her stretches, just her demeanor. You know? Ballistic bouncy stretches?!?!? Broom-Ting goes the sound of the drum for joke/punch line emphasis). Anyway...
Cindy stands there glaring at me about not training my friend. Now mind you, this gym doesn't sell personal training sessions so there is no competition or is exercising with my friend, or "training" her as Cindy kept emphasizing, an infringement upon her turf. Let me not forget the fact that Cindy smokes outside in her car before she goes in and on breaks; drinks coffee in styrofoam cups while "training" her clients; and doesn't correct their form or properly demonstrate the exercises. I have had to make a conscious decision to "fix my face" by not frowning as she watches people lunge with their knees over their toes or do ab crunches with their chins buried down into their chests straining their necks, and just all kinds of other nonsense. Now this is an unspoken rule but one in which to adhere at this place: Don't look like a professional at this gym. It upsets Cindy and she will display passive-aggressive behavior everytime you enter. Beware!
Now this hasn't happened yet, and we sincerely hope it doesn't, but should they disturb us again--we are ready!
So, my husband and I are the only ones doing HIIT training, as least as far as we've seen. We have a great routine going and are working hard to win a the Couples category with the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge. In this workout, we don't go to the "ab stations" to do our core work, it's a part of our routine right in the middle of our regimen. My husband has already warned me. He thinks that's next. They are going to tell us we can't do crunches on the floor. We must go across the gym and do abdominal work in their "ab" station. If that should happen, I have already vowed that I won't lose an extra hundred calories by opening up a can of whoop on someone. We will simply pursue other options. And I just may name said gym with stupid rules. Who knows? My mother always told me, "There is power in the pen!"
My husband and I plan to enter to win the Body by Vi Couples Championship. If you would like more information on the Challenge, feel free to visit my website at www.elanaanthony.bodybyvi.com. You and your friends, family, and co-workers can join too!