You, too, can destroy a 16-year relationship in 16 days

How Crunch Gym joined NJ Transit and United Airlines in the RepMan Hall of Shame

I began my local, Manhattan gym membership in the year 2000. Remember 2000? Among other novelties, it featured the Y2K virus, hanging chads and civil discourse.

The gym relationship in question began on an auspicious note. After all, the facility:

– Was only two blocks away from my office
– Featured reasonable rates
– Provided working rest room and shower facilities.

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After a decade or so, I was informed that a new owner, Crunch, would be taking control of my gym. I was pleased. Crunch made a lot of upgrades, including:

– A bright, cheery workout space
– Walls that were actually painted
– Mirrors that weren’t cracked
– Updated exercise equipment.

I have to say it was beautiful thing.

Ah, but, sadly, while the aesthetics improved, the interpersonal communications took a nosedive. Let’s just say their likability numbers dropped precipitously.

In fact, it’s only taken me 16 days to decide to sever a 16-year relationship.

Here’s what happened. Last June, I ruptured my quadriceps tendon. Once I was able to shed the crutches, I began working out again, albeit with a physical therapist and licensed high intensity interval trainer. I wanted to both rehab the severed tendons and ligaments AND regain my previous fitness level.

All went well until I suggested the therapist join me at Crunch, hoping I could combine rehab and training.

No such luck. As we walked through the front doors, one would have thought the Hatfield’s had just inadvertently strolled into McCoy Country. I swiped my card as always, said I’d like to pay a guest fee for my friend, who would be buddy training with me (and helping with my rehab).

The latter comment immediately transformed the reception area into a Manhattan version of the O.K. Corral.

“Look, your ‘buddy’ can buddy train, but if we catch him doing any actual training, you’ll both be asked to leave,” snarled one attendant.

To which I calmly replied, “Look, I’ve been a member here for 16 years, just paid a $26 guest fee, intend to buddy-train and will only ask him to do a few exercises that are specifically designed to help rebuild my leg (I actually pulled down my brace to show him the stitches).

The attendants harrumphed and let us go upstairs. We worked out for a full 60 minutes but, again, we had that unnerving feeling of being watched the entire time. It was weird.

Same thing happened a second time. And then a third. Finally, when the attendant gave us the same threatening dress down, I said, “You know what? You can take your 16-year-long relationship and put it where the dumb bells don’t shine.”

We promptly walked out and I joined another gym.

Naturally, an oh-so-courteous Crunch customer service representative called me right away to find out what had happened, how things could be repaired and what it would take to reinstate my membership.

I told her I appreciated her courtesy, but the deed had been done.

I felt like a client when I said, “No, I’m sorry. There’s nothing you can do to change my mind.” Ah, to wield such power. I can see why some of you clients love being clients.

Anyway, I am now happily training and rehabbing at a new gym where the lights are bright, the equipment first-rate and most-importantly the customer service superior.

Whoever coined the phrase, “Customer service is the new PR” is spot-on. Would that Crunch would train their people to understand that most basic concept.

6 thoughts on “You, too, can destroy a 16-year relationship in 16 days

  1. Appreciate the feedback. New gym is Equinox and the experience is as different from Crunch as The Donald’s intellect is from that of Obama’s.

  2. It’s the whole system at Crunch. My Crunch in Norwalk is terrible. The folks at the front desk rarely say hello. Most of their time is in their phones. The equipment breaks, the treadmills are always on a decline(broken, and terrible for knees). Overall, pretty terrible experience. But you get what you pay for. $10 a month is what I’m stuck with. Kind of glad to hear it’s not just me, and this gym…

    Good read Steve.

  3. What’s the new gym? Just curious. I always find that chain-gyms are a bit incestuous and improperly run. At Hoboken’s NYSC I was working out with my trainer while another trainer watched and chowed down on a huge breakfast sandwich – not quite the atmosphere one wants when doing burpees….

  4. And all these years I thought it was you who coined the phrase, “Customer service is the new PR.”

    But yes, I’ve tried Crunch and their ads are better than their people.