Hard Sell at the Spa
By Judy Berman
It started – as it always does – so innocently. I got this offer in the mail for a free day for two at a local health spa.
This was many pounds ago. In a desperate move to lose weight, I urge my friend, Jan, to join me.
We’re barely in the door when the trainer coaxes me to step onto the scale. I edge cautiously toward it. The scales groan under my weight. I wait, dreading the sound of a gong … like the ones at the State Fair, imagining that every eye in the place is on me.
She gives me a baleful glance, indicating I look like the before picture in their spa’s reducing plan.
Our tour of the facility leads to the gym. The trainer urges me to lie on my back and lift some weights with my feet. Panic sets in when I can’t get my feet off my chest.
She gives me the eye roll. I begin to turn blue. My legs have lost all feeling. Finally, she heaves an exasperated sigh. She seems to walk in slow motion as she comes to my rescue and frees me. I’m spared further humiliation when she whisks us out of the room.
Before long, she escorts Jan and me to the Conning Room. In this brightly lit area, she begins her pitch. Each trainer must have a quota of pigeons to pluck, but I already feel that my feathers have been ruffled enough.
The banter begins with a little lighthearted frivolity. It’s one-sided. In the corner, she chortles raucously over my vital statistics. Then the games begin in earnest.
She is ruthless in her efforts to convince me. She wheedles, cajoles, pleads and threatens me with bodily harm – which she says I will do to myself if I don’t join the spa TODAY. I hear piercing screams emanating from another room. I envision a saleswoman using brute force to get someone to sign the contact.
I stand firm.
Reluctantly, she allows us to check out the rest of the spa – hoping, I guess, that this will clinch the deal. As I leave, two beefy security guards head her way. Her eyes flit desperately around the room as she looks for the exit, ready to flee. But they each grab one of her arms, lift her up so her feet just dangle helplessly several inches above the floor, and head back down the hall.
It was probably time for her “refresher course” in the hard sell.
Jan and I race off to check out the sauna, the pool and other delights – the health food bar – at the gym.
At the pool, I met the female equivalent of the dim-witted Abominable Snow Rabbit whose mantra is “I will name him George, and I will hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him.”
“Abom,” an overly friendly gym rat, did the unthinkable. Jan no sooner steps into the pool, then Abom dives in after her. She creates a tidal wave that carries us out of the room into the parking area.
Like salmon swimming upstream, Jan and I fight the current and frantically swim back to the showers so we can clean up before we leave for good.
On our way out, there is one last temptation: the health food bar. It seems so Zen-like. Or, at least it did until a woman approaches the “bar” tender. After all that exercise, the woman’s just ravenous. She thumps her chest and demands, “Me want ‘nother celery juice.”
I wonder what would happen if the bartender got really firm and turned her down.
“I think you’ve had enough. Let me call you a cab.”
We decide to make a quick exit, stage left, before it gets really ugly at the “Glorious Health Spa.” Right on our heels, a woman, with contract and a pen in hand, chases after us.
Late at night – even though this was years ago – I can still hear her cries, “Puhl-eeze! Don’t go. If you sign up today, you’ll get ….”
An oncoming tractor-trailer mercifully drowns out her voice as we roar off at top speed.
Video: Mick Jagger singing “Ruthless People” (1986) movie title. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cohCR3rUh0
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Photo: People doing aerobics on the main street in front of the Cathedral in Morelia, Mexico. Taken April 29, 2012 by AlejandroLinaresGarcia http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/87/ExerciseMorelia.JPG/790px-ExerciseMorelia.JPG
Photo: Suspension exercise. Author: Slyngebehandling http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b9/Sideliggende_planke.JPG/800px-Sideliggende_planke.JPG
Video: “The Abominable Snow Rabbit” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JlVqfC8-UI
I went through one of these too and fled like the devil was after me. I always think if the place is good and clean, they don’t need a hard sell.
Kate, I don’t blame you for running for the exit. While I did exaggerate just a tad, I did feel pressured – several times – to sign before I left the spa that day.
Nicely exaggerated touches, Judy, but not all that far from the truth, either. Those free offers always come with a price.
True, Charles. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Glad you liked my tall tale.
Whoa! Sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone, Judy! Thanks for the reminder of that wonderful – if slightly unsettling – cartoon character.
Yes, Kate, the Warner Brothers’ character is a parody of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” He always cracks me up.
Oh yes they can be very persistent! Hilarious account Judy 😀
Right, Madhu. Relentless. I really was put thru my paces there. Glad you enjoyed it.
I think I’ve burned more calories running away from signing a gym membership form than actually working out inside a gym.
I’m giggling just thinking about your response, Darla. That would have been a better motivator – run to avoid signing your life away.
Okay, Judy, can I work out with you and Jan…especially at the bar afterwards?
This is wonderful! Funny, vivid, and too true to be comfortable. I love it.
The only workout I get these days, Marilyn, is walking to the edge of my driveway to get the mail. But, yes, you can join me afterwards. Glad to have your company and a chance to swap some stories. Glad you enjoyed this.
In the mall we frequent, the spa/fitness center faces a popular frozen yoghurt dessert stand. The spa ‘marketers’ often approach them snackers and usually get a stare that clearly says, ‘And give this up? No way’. Hehe.
Still they persist…
Location. Location. Location. The spa “marketers’ should stake out a different area to add to their clientele list. I’m with those snackers, Tita Buds. I do watch what I eat, but I also enjoy a tasty snack on occasion … without the guilt. Thank you. 🙂
Hilarious! Your feathers may have been ruffled, but I admire your plucky spirit!
Even under pressure, there were some really funny moments. (OK. I imagined those, but they were still funny.) Glad you enjoyed this, Lisa.
Me too. That looks like fun, creative way to exercise and even meet friends.
I decided to pass on this experience – at least at that place. I did join another place later on and enjoyed it. Low pressure and I did meet some wonderful people there.
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