One more follow-up post on masks in gyms and then I’ll get back to Patrick…
In my last post, I shared my experience about mask enforcement at Planet Fitness and how the manager there sided with the anti-maskers who harassed me. A friend of mine immediately stated she would never again do business with Planet Fitness after reading my post. She was the one who turned me onto Planet Fitness, so her comment gave me pause. I immediately asked myself why I would tolerate a business who would let its members harass other members with impunity. I never went back to Planet Fitness and immediately started looking for a new gym.
After some calls and visits to local gyms, I ended up back at the PRO Club. I had been a member there for twelve years previously and I’m sure my decision to go back was influenced by familiarity but… They were not messing around when it came to masking up. I did get a guest pass and use the club prior to signing up again to gauge their pandemic response. My only significant concerns about mask enforcement were in the steam room and sauna. Yes, masks are mandated there as well. The steam room and sauna at this club are both very large. I could easily stay ten to twelve feet away from someone if there were only two of us in there. But masks were not always being worn. I figured I would just skip these until the vaccine mandate for gyms kicks in later this month.
I grew up in saunas and steam rooms and will always love them. Hot tubs and are the same, the jets on muscles after a workout are fabulous. I love a good hot soak and steam after a hard workout. The spa area at the PRO Club was one of the other decisive factors in my choice to join again. Even if I was going to avoid the area, simply knowing it was there and the hope of using it again was strong.
Well, last weekend I drove into the parking lot, and it was even more of a ghost town than the normal pandemic induced ghost town. The place was empty. After an incredible workout, I noticed the hot tubs were empty. They have four of them and each one is incredibly large, it’s like they were made for a pandemic. The hot tubs are in the same area as the steam room and sauna. As I soaked, I noticed nobody had gone in or out of the steam room for a bit. I had also noticed the PRO Club took my feedback prior to joining seriously and had posted signage saying masks were required in the steam room and sauna. I decided to peek inside, and it was empty! I walked in after letting it air out briefly, sprayed the eucalyptus heavily, and sat down. I was a bit disappointed by how effectively my mask blocked the eucalyptus, but I could feel it on my skin, so I was in a state of bliss. It had been nearly two years since I was able to sit in a steam room and I was at home again.
I had been in there probably five to eight minutes when a guy came in without a mask. I politely stated masks were required and it was immediately apparent he was put out. I told him there was a sign right outside the door stating the requirement. He left and came back in with a mask on. He then immediately told me flip-flops were not allowed in the steam room. I didn’t want to get into it with him, so I said I didn’t know that, walked to the door, and kicked them off outside and sat down again. The dude became unhinged. He started harassing me non-stop. I gave him three warnings and then exited the steam room and called the front desk.
The head of night security came down and I gave him the high level of what had just transpired. No questions asked… He went into the steam room and told the guy to get out so he could talk with him. At first the guy was not going to comply. He was told he would comply or there would be consequences. My jaw hit the floor. This was exactly the opposite of what happened at Planet Fitness! I cannot express how skillfully and professionally this security guy was. Here’s the letter I wrote to one of the directors at the PRO Club about my encounter:
I was hoping you could forward this to the director of security. I don’t know who that is. I had grabbed your card because I do have a simple question for you but will email you that in a day or two… It’s not pressing and the below is more important to me right now.
I am a former XXXXXX employee who just recently decided to come back to the Pro Club. In all honesty, I was perfectly content with my membership at Planet Fitness until the delta variant hit and the mask mandate came back in Washington State. Planet Fitness was not enforcing the mask mandate in a uniform manner. What’s worse is that I was harassed by someone for asking him to mask up… And the manager of the club took the side of the anti-masker! Needless to say, I was furious.
I started gym shopping immediately after that incident. I toured a few gyms and it was a tossup in the end. I ended up back at the Pro Club for two primary reasons: the spa area in the Bellevue location and free parking in all your locations.
This weekend I was at the Bellevue location, and I had my eyes on the steam room. I grew up in steam rooms and will love them until I die. I was incredibly cautious because the last thing I want is to get covid. I had seen people in the steam room without a mask during my gym shopping and even called this out in an email to XXXXX. And I noticed the new signs up by the sauna and steam room saying masks were required. Nobody had been in so I opened the door and let it linger open briefly so I could air it out a little and then stepped inside with my mask on. It was blissful.
I had been in there for about five to eight minutes when a guy came in without a mask on. I politely stated that masks were required. He was a bit defensive, but I simply referred to the sign out front and he went and got a mask and then came back in. As soon as he sat down, he informed me that my flip flops were not allowed in the steam room. I didn’t want to get into it, so I said, “I didn’t know that” and took them off and placed them outside. He then proceeded to lay into me about the mask requirement. I told him “Listen, I appreciate you putting your mask on, but I’m done. I just want to enjoy the silence.” He wouldn’t stop. I then told him “I said I was done already and now I feel like I’m being harassed.” He wouldn’t stop. I then told him it was my third request for him to stop and he told me to get out if I didn’t like it.
I was furious. I had just left a gym I was content with because I had been harassed for asking someone to follow the mask mandate AFTER he and his friend had been mocking me for having a mask on and a shirt that said, “Masks are not a political statement, they are an IQ test.” I did not want to find another gym already! I called the front desk and they sent XXXXXX down to meet with me. I gave him the high-level overview and he handled the situation flawlessly. I did feel for him needing to listen to the guy carry on forever but it’s going to take each one of us to end this pandemic.
I cannot tell you how much I appreciated XXXXXX and how professionally he handled someone acting like an entitled spoiled brat. I could not have handled that guy nearly as professionally as XXXXXX did. He’s a rockstar and I would appreciate it if you thanked him again for me. I was so impressed with how the situation was handled I posted it on social media, and it received a lot of positive attention. Names and the club were not mentioned, and my social media accounts are quite locked down so you will not be able to see the post but do know XXXXXX made my day and reaffirmed that I had made the correct choice in choosing the Pro Club.
I do have one question based on my encounter with that guy though… Are flip flops truly prohibited in the steam room and sauna? I am asking because Dr. XXXXXX in podiatry sent me out to get my legs measured with a Xray many years ago due to chronic back pain. I will be forever grateful for that visit because after years of pain, I found out one leg is 1.5cm shorter than the other and my whole body was being thrown off. My sciatica and back pain ended with orthotics and modifications to my right shoe/sandal/flip-flop. My hip is paying for the discrepancy now but that’s nothing compared to my back. I would like to be able to wear my modified flip flops in the steam room but, if it’s against the rules, it’s against the rules.
I bet Planet Fitness wishes they had received the letter above, but they got what they got because they obviously don’t care if members harass other members. I also need to be clear that the guy at the PRO Club who was harassing pulled the same “No, he was harassing me.” nonsense the guys at Planet Fitness did but this time neither politics nor personal agendas won; reality did.