Gym Horror Story: The Unmentionable Fiasco
The following is a short story that’s a part of our “Gym Horror Stories” series to celebrate Halloween. Each day this week, visit ClubSolutionsMagazine.com for a new tale from the gym.
No matter how good your management skills are, or how tight the ship you run is, nobody is immune to the fire drill that ensues when word of the owner visiting gets out. For years I’ve said my clubs are “corporate ready” all day every day, and even I get that little twinge of panic when I hear The Big Guy is on his way.
Many fire drills are quite uneventful and maybe a good catch is even had just in the nick of time. As a female manager, the men’s locker room can be the largest source of concern as that area is really just a figment of my imagination. I envision old, hairy, mostly (if not all), naked men doing unspeakable things such as covering their entire bodies in lotion and powder and blow-drying their nether-regions.
At least, this is what I have been told by multiple reliable sources occurs in there, and therefore I reserve my entry for special occasions like late nights, weekends and when the facility is closed. I’ve even been known to make a male employee take a camera in there to take pictures of things I must see, like shower curtains, bath mats and saunas. Rue the day my face is on the news for that one!
Anyway, I digress. During one such fire drill I was able to convince a particularly willing personal trainer to go into the abyss that will henceforth be referred to as the men’s locker room, to make sure it was as neat and tidy as it must be when The Big Guy comes along to look. I’m quite sure after this day he never volunteered to help again.
Rich, as we will call him, went into the locker room and promptly returned to the main desk area and began to rummage through the lost and found. He retrieved a wire hanger from the dry cleaner — why on earth it was saved in the lost in found one will never know — and marched back into the locker room amid raised eyebrows from all the staff.
About 30 seconds later he returned to the front desk with a wet, crotch streaked, age stained pair of tighty whities hanging off the end of the hanger. Everyone who was working at the club immediately stopped what they were doing to converge at the desk and inspect his find.
“These were hanging on the hook by one of the showers,” he announced to everyone. Amid shrieks of disgust and nervous laughter people were asking, “Who would wear those” and “Was there anyone in the shower?” “Throw them away before The Big Guy gets here,” someone said, and that’s exactly what happened.
Giggling to themselves, everyone went back to what they were doing, giving no more thought to the undies now laying at the top of the trashcan at the front desk. I asked Rich if everything else in the locker room was fine — which it was — and we were decidedly ready at that moment for The Big Guy’s arrival.
Mere minutes later the tell-tale car pulled into the parking lot and everyone stood a little straighter and looked a little busier. The Big Guy waltzed in the front door in what seemed like slow motion, but in hind sight was probably in real time.
The moment he stepped up to the front desk, a frantic, towel-laden, mostly naked and hairy man sped to the backside of the front desk from the locker room loudly imploring the staff to help him as someone had stolen his underpants from the showers! One employee guiltily offered hollow assistance as the other quickly blocked the trash from view.
Meanwhile, another employee spoke with The Big Guy as politely and professionally as possible amongst the drama, silently praying someone would come to her rescue.
This was an experience I had several years ago when I was a general manager. From this specific incident, I learned to communicate even the smallest details to my staff when having them do something I “couldn’t,” like check the men’s locker room in the middle of the day.
I heard an employee ask Rich if someone was in the shower, but the trainer was being silly and dramatic and didn’t answer. I quickly learned that fun is fun and funny is funny, but in the matter of finding someone’s personal belongings (in this case, very personal) it’s better to be safe and ask questions before taking something, than to be sorry and be caught with tighty whities in the trash.
—Robyn Klawitter, Mountainside Fitness