Confessions of a General Manager
My days as a general manager of an upscale health club in Chicago proved to be constantly entertaining-- never a dull moment when you’re open 24 hours. Most gym-goers come in around the same time every day, get in their workout and go on their merry way. Little do they know of the dramas that can unfold when you spend all day at the gym.
My gym was in a nice local area, but I still found myself making 4:30am police calls to have regular loiterers, people looking to harass our members, removed from the front entrance of the club. For over a month I fought the battle to have them removed, but luckily few patrons arrived that early in the morning to witness it.
Running a city gym also means you’re surrounded by other businesses and apartment buildings. One lady that lived in a condo above the gym threw daily tantrums claiming that the noise in the weight room was ruining her life. Imagine trying to tell a weight room full of men who mean business that they need to keep it down. Leave it to the GM to try and smooth things over.
I could fill a book with the weird things that happen in the locker room, but one of my fondest memories was of a member who swore her $300 pair of undergarments were stolen from her locker and demanded to be reimbursed immediately. In my experience, undergarments were the last thing ever to be stolen – even if they did cost $300.
I also loved all the silly things people would do while they were working out. My favorite was the member who would sing at the top of his lungs and do a kind of dance while he was running on the treadmill. He wasn’t as skilled as the famous Planet Fitness treadmill dancer, but he definitely enjoyed his workout.
When you deal with a large number of people on a daily basis you’re bound to run across some wild personalities, but no matter how outrageous the situation, I loved my job. There are few professions that give you the opportunity to change lives. For every “problem member” there were 10 inspirational members whose life was improved because of fitness and our gym.
Next time you hit the gym, think about giving your general manager an extra smile or “Thank you.” It’s not an easy job to keep the peace in such a busy place.
We want to hear your stories. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at the gym?