I’ve been going to the same athletic club for the past 30 years, and it feels like my home away from home. I typically exercise during the same time slot every day, and the other club members who are there during that time have become close friends, almost like family. It’s my gym, a special place where I enjoy “me-time,” and I value and appreciate it.
In addition to the great variety of classes that they offer, they have an Olympic-sized pool, and I love swimming and water aerobics!
Several years ago, the club changed ownership. Our new owner works hard to keep the place going and has even made some nice improvements. But sometimes she tends to be moody and hard to deal with. Not only that, but for some reason, she seems to dislike me and allows caustic comments to slip out, targeted specifically towards me.
Her attitude is abrasive, and it’s beginning to affect me. I go home feeling wounded instead of invigorated. And how ridiculous is that? I’m a paying member; why should I have to pussyfoot around this woman as if she’s doing me a favor by allowing me to use her gym?
For the most part, during that hour or so of my day, I’m surrounded by people I enjoy, cocooned within an atmosphere as cozy and comfortable as my favorite pair of sweat pants. But this woman is there when I come and go, we often collide in between, and her attitude puts a damper on my whole experience.
Should I change gyms?
Signed, A Frustrated Client
Dear Frustrated Client,
Seeing your safe haven transform into a “danger zone” sounds very difficult. Your time to strengthen and energize yourself so that you can be healthy physically and emotionally has been invaded, and you are in a quandary.
The way I see it, you have several options. You can stay, continue to swallow the caustic comments, and hopefully grow thicker skin so that her words don’t affect you. Enjoy your workouts and the accompanying camaraderie, and simply allow this woman’s malevolence to slide right off. Easier said than done, I know.
As you mentioned, you can leave and start over in a new facility. But whether you’ll develop the same types of intimate relationships that have become so important to you is questionable, though certainly possible. But of course, all relationships take time to build; friendships don’t spring up overnight, especially not the kind that have 30 years of history.
One other consideration may be to have a heart-to-heart with your club owner. Of course, with any potentially volatile communication, start with positivity. Tell her how much you appreciate the club and all her hard work and innovations. And then, take a deep breath, and, ever so gently, let your feelings bubble to the surface. Express what’s bothering you, laced with sensitivity, and gauge her response.
“I’m wondering if there’s something I do that bothers you,” you may say. “Because sometimes I feel like you’re upset with me, and I’m not sure of the reason.”
Who knows? Maybe she’ll tell you that you don’t put equipment away after using it, or that you come late to classes or leave early, and that doing that becomes disruptive to the instructors and the attendees.
“So that’s it!” you’ll exclaim. “I’m so glad we spoke. I’ll try to be careful with that from now on. Thank you again for everything you do!”
Perhaps she’s going through a rough patch in her personal life, and for some inexplicable reason, she is unleashing it on you.
I am certainly not justifying her abusive way of treating you. However, I think if you can figure out a way to deal with this volcanic persona so that you don’t have to leave a place you love, that would be ideal. But please don’t continue to suffer in silence. No one deserves to be abused – ever.
I’d love to know what you wind up doing. I hope you don’t have to give up your “home away from home,” and that the situation turns around and becomes brighter.
Best wishes, Rachel Stein