Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I stole from the gym but got caught
It is a commonly heard lament – “my gym is ripping me off!”

Pals, still flabby and unfit watch as the pounds drop out via direct debit from their accounts rather than the pounds dropping off their arse or face or the places where pounds are meant to disappear from.

One friend still mournfully talks of a swanky Sydney gym that he visited twice in 12 months. “One thousand dollars a swim,” he says almost with wonder. “One thousand dollars… for a swim…. in a little hot pool.”

I too have paid for gym memberships long after resigning myself to periods of sloth and inactivity (or have moved cities) due to the money muncher that is direct debit.

So it was in this spirit of feeling thoroughly ripped off – totally scammed, terribly disillusioned with the unholy alliance of capitalism and health – that I decided to rip off a gym.

It's not an easy task to fleece a fleecer – particularly since the gym I wanted to exploit was a multinational, squillion dollar chain that employs an army of young eagle eyed, muscle building little fitties. Just the sort to chase you down the street or wind you with a medicine ball.

Nonetheless I felt a sort of surge of self-righteousness as I plotted and planned my theft from the evil, multinational gym chain.

I had in my possession a card of 30 visits to the EG (Evil Gym) – but the card had a ten day shelf life. “Typical EG behaviour!” I thought. “They give with one hand but the take with another. Who would go to the gym three times a day?”

Taking a wobbly black biro in an unsteady hand I changed the date. That’s right – I changed the 4 to an 8 – so instead of having ten measly days to use my 30 visit card I had months.

The fleece went well for the first week. I handed my forged card over at times of HCV (High Customer Volume) when the clerks would be too stretched to check the fairly appalling forgery I had done. The anxiety was high but each time I passed through the turnstile unchallenged I felt a little surge of victory.

My allocated ten days came and went. I luxuriated in the seemingly limitless ocean of time. I lounged across the bench press, I slept on the cross-trainer, I watched hours of television from a stationary stepper.

The EG provide free soft drink and newspapers. I hung out. I took long showers. When my bathroom was being renovated the EG gym became a de facto home. And I felt at home – I really did. I had oodles of time and I wasn’t paying a cent in gym fees. I had won. I was ripping off a gym!

Then one day when I skipped in for a yoga class and handed my pass over, the blade descended.
“We might hang onto your card Miss Delaney, if that’s okay, while you take your class.”

Who was this beady eyed little ******?

Why did he want to ‘hang onto’ my card?

Sweat slipped from my chin onto my forgery – smudging my handiwork even more. Drats! Would it end this way – just before yoga? My class hadn’t even started and suddenly I felt all sweaty and gross.

After the class I was told that my card had been ‘confiscated’ and I was to return the next day to meet with the manager.

I had been caught!! Stealing from the EG!! Just when I got the hang of the bench press too!

I acted cool though: “Yah, I’ll come and see him – what of it,” I said in the manner of Vicki Pollard in a Little Britain sketch. “Yah, I ain’t done nothing wrong. Ya gonna give me my card back or wot?”

“When you come in and see the manager,” said the man.

I never went back to see the manager. I never went back to that gym. They had my hot little forged card in their nasty little office, and my word, if I went back in there, I may even be arrested.

I could imagine my defence – “I did this for every person that has ever been ripped off by a gym.” Sort of like a fitness Robin Hood.

But I doubt it would have washed. That’s the thing about EG’s. They always win.

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Welcome to the diary of a reluctant exerciser. Having previously shunned fitness regimes in favour of bacon sandwiches, Brigid Delaney vows to finally shape up, get fit and eat more healthily. Over the next three months read how she gets on in a brave new world of gyms, exercise classes and no bacon sandwiches.
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