Health clubs are going through some tough financial times, and if you hang around any health club long enough, it starts to take on a soap-opera type atmosphere. For instance, recently my health club stopped supplying free Q-tips to its members, and you just would notbelieve what a huge controversy lack of free cotton swabs caused. These members obviously did notread the Wall Street Journal Article that just poo-poohed the use of Cotton Swabs. Wall Street Journal article
The official explanation for the pulling of the gratis cotton swabs was quite interesting. The facility claimed that when the top of the men’s lockers were cleaned, so many soiled Q-tips were collected that it filled a five gallon bucket, but most everyone was guessing it was a financial thing. The regular members who are waiting outside the health club every day at 4:55 for the door to open at 5 a.m. were just livid that cotton swabs were no longer available. As the huge (really?) controversy snowballed, the morning regulars banned together in unity and collected money for a cotton swab fund. Every morning a self-appointed Q-tip warden placed the privately funded swabs where the gratis swabs had sat for many years. The controversy continued to fester; cotton swabs today, the loss of hot water in the showers tomorrow, or maybe they’ll pull the Scope or deodorant, toilet paper….who knows. The final outcome is that the health club did not like the bad press, so they relented and the gratis Q-tips have returned. If anyone should happen to see a five gallon bucket filled with soiled Q-tips on E-Bay, give UFE (Urine Feces Everywhere) a call. This sets the stage for the next article.
It makes sense that the more money a health facility has in its operating fund, the cleaner it will be. For instance, this same health club recently went from supplying unlimited towels for the members to use to a two towel limit per visit. They cited the increasing costs of laundering the towels plus the cost of lost (stolen) towels. The club purchased a huge towel machine called the “towel tracker” that dispenses the towels by swiping your health club card at this huge dispensing machine. With a computer monitor attached to it, it records the towels being returned in a separate tracking unit- talk about big brother watching. The facility cited the use of as many as 10 towels during a single visit by some of the members and a loss of some 20 towels a day. This member takes three towels, so I am constantly watching over my shoulder for a visit from the towel police.
Towel rationing is not a new health club phenomenon, but rationing undoubtedly leads to a dirtier facility. The member must now decide, should I use my towel for the shower, the sauna bench, the steam room, the chair in the lounge, the floor where I stand after the shower……well, you get the point. The obvious solution is to bring your own towels, but that does not help with the other sweaty members that would rather sit on a surface naked than bring extra towels. That’s probably why health clubs started supplying towels in the first place, because it is sad to say but people can’t be trusted. I just keep getting a visual of my friend Bobbie Bushay (nickname) who still brags that he never took his gym clothes home to have then washed, for his entire senior year of High School.
At the health club there is a guy named Frank, who is a regular in the evenings. After dragging myself to work out, I reward myself by sitting in the sauna which has a large window so I can see Frank who always seems to be in the whirlpool, when I make it to the health club. Frank has become known as the “Jacuzzi Nazi” because he monitors everyone going into the hot tub. If you should skip the health department required shower, Frank has an entire lecture he gives to convince you that a shower in not only required, but is the clean thing to do for the other people that go in the hot tub. When Frank gives his take-a-soapy-shower speech, he has somewhat of an accent, so he sounds like the classic 1970′s skit on Saturday Night live with John Bulushi and Dan Akroyd: “Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!” “You, hey you, take showuh before you come in hot tub, we all take showuh, tak a shower before you come in hot tub,” Frank blurts out. The responses you hear are quite interesting. The one I like the best goes like this, “I didn’t work out yet, so I don’t need a shower.” Frank has to explain to them that work out or not, you better take a shower because we don’t want your body’s residue (Frank uses a stronger word than “residue”) in the tub. The last time I spoke to Frank he had given the lecture 56 times.
Frank knows that the whirlpool is drained every Thursday and Sunday, so he really likes to go hot-tubbing on Fridays and Mondays. On the other days, he surveys the foamy scum that floats on the surface of the whirlpool, he can judge by looking at the quantity and color of the frothy head if the tub is clean enough to enter or not. He will look at me and say, “Too many people not take showuh, I go in sauna today.” I wonder how much extra it would cost to drain the tub on a daily basis? Personally, I think the grossest part of the hot tub is when I see people submerge their head in the foamy, scummy water. It makes me want to vomit.
Frank is a smart man, but unfortunately the health club won’t pay him to be the full time hot tub cop, and I’m not comfortable with the crystal-ball reading of the tub’s foamy scum surface. It is just for that reason that I will never set foot in that Whirlpool. Putting a bunch of old chicken carcasses in hot water is called soup stock. I really don’t see much difference when it’s people.
I always tell my wife about the Jacuzzi Nazi and the lack of cleanliness in the locker room, and her response is always the same: “I think you are half female”. My response never changes either: “Thank You for the compliment.”