I recently decided that I want to get in better shape. My wedding is right around the corner, and I don’t want my future kids to see pictures of good ole’ dad sporting some love handles on his big day. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily out of shape, but I usually prefer playing half-court basketball instead of full. Waking up early and hiking a mountain is fun, but knowing a post-hike brunch at Cracker Barrel awaits is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
I called a Gold’s Gym near my house and left a voicemail saying I wanted to join. About an hour later my phone rang.
“Hey buddy,” a voice on the other end of the line said with confidence, as if we’re actually buddies. “My name is Zach, and I’m from Gold’s Gym. Why don’t you come in and see me? I’ll get you set up with a membership.”
When I arrived a man with a ponytail led me to an office in the back and told me to wait. After a few minutes there was a soft knock on the door, and a man walked in, shook my hand, and introduced himself as Zach. Zach from Gold’s Gym.
“Glad you made it,” he said. “So what are your workout goals?”
“Well, I’d like to be fit I guess.”
“Tell me: what does fitness mean to you?”
“I just want to be healthy.”
“Perfect. What’s your current workout routine?”
“I don’t have one. That’s why I’m here.”
“Cort, you have come to the right place. You’re going to make friends here. This is a community. We are a community. We help each other reach our full potential. Does that sound good to you?”
Zach was friendly, and I liked him, but what he described sounded like a version of hell custom-tailored for Cort. I was looking for a treadmill, not a friend. The last thing I wanted was to be surrounded by middle-aged men in cutoff t-shirts committed to helping me pump out a few more reps before hitting the showers. I told Zach I needed to think about it.
The next day, at the urging of several friends, I visited Lifetime Fitness and discovered the difference between a gym and a sports club. Freshly washed towels were neatly folded and stacked high around every corner. The locker room had a sauna and a steam room. Instructors offered hot yoga classes at no extra charge. If Jesus designed his own workout facility, it would look like Lifetime Fitness.
I don’t remember exactly what happened next–perhaps one of the towel boys drugged me–but suddenly I was in Sam’s office giving him my credit card information.
Completely forgetting about Zach from Gold’s Gym, I joined the cult of Lifetime Fitness and became the most devoted disciple. I was downright evangelical about the place. I found ways to bring it up in every conversation. I got a massage and handed out my masseuse’s business card to friends. All was well.
And then my phone rang.
January 8: “Hey man, this is Zach from Gold’s Gym. Just wanted to see if you were ready to get started with that membership, man. Give me a call back. Have a good afternoon, bud!”
I felt a twinge of guilt. Oh well, I thought. I guess that’s that. But two weeks later my phone rang again.
January 21: “Hey Cort! This is Zach from Gold’s Gym. Just calling to see if you made it back into town safely. Let me know when you want to get this membership up and running. Hopefully I’ll see you soon!”
Looking back, I should have had the courtesy to pick up the phone and say, “Hey Zach from Gold’s Gym. I’m sorry, but this isn’t working out. It’s not you, it’s me.” But I figured he would go ahead and cross me off the potential member list at this point.
And then this showed up in my email.
The email went straight to my spam folder and I happened upon it by chance. I appreciated the personal touch–“almost two months!”–and that he signs his emails “Yours in Health”, but another gym had already won my affections.
Last week, while I was in Nicaragua, I received a text from an unknown number.
This was a turning point for me in my relationship with Zach from Gold’s Gym. I knew that the only decent thing to do would be to break up with him. So I did.
And so, with those last two words from Zach from Gold’s Gym, I think this season of my life may finally be over. I have nothing but respect for Zach, and I wish him the best as he hunts down other potential members. Farewell, Zach from Gold’s Gym. Thanks for the memories.
Yours in Health,