I went to the gym this afternoon and was astonished to find, yet again, that they’d removed the free weighing scales from the changing rooms. It's fairly unusual, I'd say, for a gym not to offer its members a chance to weigh themselves after a workout. A member of LA Fitness staff in his black company T-shirt was floating around. One of the other gym-bunnies asked if there was a reason why the scales had been removed. The response was as predictable as it was irritating; “head office policy.” It’s something we hear all the time at the LA Fitness in Highgate. If in doubt, blame a faceless, be-suited moron in a tower block in a town just outside the M25. Never one to shy away from showing solidarity to those who dare to speak out, I went over and asked a question which was burning in my mind; “why do they disappear and reappear regularly if it’s company policy not to have them at all?” The man in black replied, “oh, that was a member of staff here who didn’t know the rules.” This didn’t surprise me. The turnaround in staff at the gym is almost comic. Staff members obviously work in the most horrific circumstances and get no support from their seniors.
“What happens if I want to weigh myself?” asked a third gym goer. “There’s a brand new machine on the main gym floor” came the reply. “But it costs 50p every time you want to weigh yourself” said the gym-goer. There followed an incredulous silence as the penny dropped for us all. That’s why they got rid of the free scales in the changing room! Of course the situation is made even worse by the new weighing machine’s position on the gym floor. Most people prefer to weigh themselves, naked, and in the comfort and relative privacy of a same-sex environment. The following question just tumbled out of my mind:
“Would you mind if I went onto the gym floor, took off all my clothes and weighed myself? I always weigh myself naked because clothes get heavier and lighter depending on how much I’ve sweated and how cold it is.”
The LA Fitness staff member looked at me like I’d just asked him on a date, and said sternly; “that would obviously not be appropriate...” I softened, “well, look, if you could just lobby your manager to lobby LA Fitness head office to have the scales returned, that would great. They’re an important part of my people’s work-outs.” The response was, once again, as predictable as it was irritating; “that’s not my job. I’m just fitness staff here.” And there it was; the impenetrable vicious cycle created by a man who simply doesn’t care about his job, the company he works for, or the interests of his customers. Congratulations LA Fitness. You’ve created the perfect example of broken window syndrome!
I went upstairs to the main reception and asked another member of staff if I could talk to the manager and he tootled off to look for him...
Imagine my surprise when the manager revealed himself as the disinterested staff member I’d been talking to in the changing rooms, who was now wearing a little white badge which said “deputy manager!” There was nothing to do but burst out laughing. “You told me less than five minutes ago that it wasn’t your job to speak to the manager... but you appear to actually BE the manager.” “I said no such thing,” said the deputy manager. And there we were again, riding the Becketian cycle of genuine lack of interest. I had no other option than to walk away...
As I passed through the barriers, I could hear a woman kicking up merry hell because the staff wouldn’t let her look at the gym before she signed up to become a member; “surely I’ve a right to know what kind of place it is?” She said. I shouted over my shoulder, “it’s the kind of place which charges its member 50p every time they want to weigh themselves!”