25 February, 2007
LA|Fitness
I took this photo to use it as a springboard for a socio-politico commentary. This blight on the landscape; this corporate intrusion into daily sensitivities; this behemoth that has brainwashed the sheep of America into believing that the only way to stay in shape and live a long, healthy life is to subscribe to their methodologies has recently ambushed the DFW metropolitan area. There seem to be hundreds of these monstrosities opening in our area.
Bear in mind here that I am in no way against healthy living, nor exercise, nor even health clubs where like-minded folk can do like-minded things all relating to and, hopefully, resulting in a healthier life. I exercise daily, I play soccer twice a week, and I even try to walk my dogs semi-irregularly. Even when I’m away on business travel, I exercise. I make use of the fitness spa that most hotels are equipped with and I try to walk to my destination as often as I can. I most definitely can say I am not against exercise.
No. The corporate greed drives my ire. The fact that LA|Fitness has built enormous success around an out-of-date business model that will not allow even casual questions without being ambushed by a hard-sales pitch; that we, the sheep of America, the quiet dullards that inhabit suburbia allow them to dictate how & when and with whom we exercise makes my hackles raise.
I was excited when I first saw that it was a fitness club going into the location that Stripling & Cox had occupied for nearly two decades but had recently vacated. That meant that, perhaps, there would be racquetball courts as well, which is something sorely needed in Arlington. Indeed, there were courts, but my casual inquiry at the front counter as to how much the monthly fee was and how often I could visit was met by the blank stares of a pimply-faced high-school student and a gesture that I needed to visit the sales office. Which meant: I needed to go sign-in and wait until the single sales-person on duty was finished with the poor cow he had in his office. This was all to find the answer to two very simple questions. I asked him again at which time he informed me, rudely, that the information desk did not receive the prices (information?) from corporate headquarters, and that he simply could not answer my query therefore, I must speak with a sales person.
Why?
So that some over-paid, commission-driven sales slug can charge what he wants to whom he wants? Does this mean the beautiful model-type that will look good in the glass windows of the facility will get a better deal than some poor unfortunate that is hideously overweight and needs desperately to lose the weight? I certainly hope not; but LA|Fitness’s unwillingness to publish their rates, even in individual markets, smacks to me as a company that takes advantage of their client-base too easily and too often.
All of this is going on at the same time that the Extreme Poverty level of America is at an all time high, having risen 26% in the last 5 years to a level of ~10 million souls. Millions of families of four making less than $9000 per year (as a family unit) are struggling simply to stay alive while LA|Fitness hangs onto their financial security by lying to its clients every day.
Yes. I am mad.
UPDATE (10 July 2009):
Over at the Consumerist there’s a great post that proves my point and validates my anger.

~KR (25 February, 2007)

Camera: Canon PowerShot S1 IS
Exposure: 0.067 sec (1/15)
Aperture: f/3.1
Focal Length: 20.4 mm
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire