Joining a gym can be a great way to stay in shape, keep your mind focused, and tone your body. However, when you read the super-fine print (barely visible to the naked eye) you’ll often discover that you’ve entered into a five-year, uncompromising contract with the fitness center in question, and no feasible way to get out of your gym membership.
You can try cancelling your credit card or changing your address, but they will find you and send the feds so far up your ass they’ll strike oil. Don’t even think about fleeing to Mexico or Canada: they’re both in the pocket of Big Gym, and you’ll be extradited immediately.
Yes, the sea may seem like a harsh, unforgiving mistress. And yes, it’s true you may find yourself on the verge of drowning, or going days without fresh water (thereby becoming tempted to drink seawater, submitting to that temptation, and experiencing terrifying hallucinations). But I’ll gladly take these minor inconveniences over the brutal despot that was my former gym.
It all began when I made the mistake of moving several miles away, such that going to said gym was inconvenient.
I thought it would be easy enough to call and cancel my membership. I got through to the receptionist, but as soon as I started to say, “I’d like to ca-” a piercing shriek shot out of the phone and ruptured my eardrum. Even after ending the call, the infernal noise continued, and I had to remove my SIM card to get it to stop.
I attempted to contact the gym via email, and initially received no reply:
Finally, I got a response informing me that I had to cancel my membership in person. But when I got to the gym’s location, it was just an empty lot full of tall grass and tumble weeds.
There was radio silence for a few days, then the email exchange started to heat up:
This was my final direct correspondence with the gym:
Fearing that I might be in danger, I called the police. Before I could even explain my situation, an officer told me, with a hint of sorrow, “We’re sorry Ms. Goldin we…we can’t help you,” before hanging up. Over the course of the next few weeks my life was torn asunder. My apartment changed the locks on me, my boyfriend claimed he didn’t know who I was or why I was calling him, and my own mother called to tearfully ask, “Why would you try to get out of a legally binding contract even though you signed and consented to the terms listed above? Why?” before saying she would no longer be able to contact me. My own dog turned against me, attacking me as if under the control of an invisible master.
So I took to the sea.
It’s a hard life, but a free one. And the best part is I don’t even need a gym any more! My body has been toned by battening hatches and constantly bailing water out of the structurally unsound flotilla I made out of empty barrels and Ikea bed frames. My traps and quads have never looked better!
Certainly it gets lonely. Out of desperation I have written my story on a palm frond and fastened it to a compliant seagull. But at least I’ve escaped from under the perfectly toned thumb of Pilates Unlimited Gym.
It’s about time to send off this sea-mail-gull, as the sun is settling into the horizon and I must make ready for the frigid night. I—is that a helicopter? Oh thank Poseidon I’m saved! I’m–wait, is…are those kettlebells? NO! NO!! Oh God, fly! Fly my trusty seagull! Relay this message so that others may be warned never, ever, under any circumstance sign a gym contra-
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The writing on the palm frond became illegible, though the hurried, scrawl upon which the note ended roughly transcribed to, “AIEEEE.”]