Monday, March 29, 2010

YAS Venice - Got a family emergency? They don't want your business

Adventures in Eldercare - What do you do when your spinning instructor threatens to ban you permanently for texting your elderly father's caregiver during class?

Good question. I'm open to suggestion.

A little history. For the last several months, I've had to deal with what a lot baby boomers are facing - elderly parents living thousands of miles away who now need constant care and attention. Spinning class is one of the few times I have to myself, although even then I often can't get through a class without being interrupted by the caregiver - but we've worked out a system where she can text me so I'm not bothering anyone else.

It's worked great, until today.

I thought surely, if I explained to the instructor that Mom had just gotten out of the hospital, and that my Dad was under 24/7 care, all would be forgiven.

Uh no. Didn't move her much. In fact, it was kind of like poking a bear.

A really fit, really hip, bear.

Pick up my cell phone again, and I'd be banned, she said. Why, I asked? Because I was bothering the other students, she said.

Really? Texting quietly in the corner, surrounded by dozens of sweaty, heaving bodies with music blasting at rock-concert levels was an issue for somebody? Anybody?

This was news to me.

I was pretty upset. I'm sure I raised my voice. I didn't use any bad language (although a lot of it was floating around in my head), and I tried to keep my end of the conversation respectful. What struck me about the whole exchange later was how annoyed this woman seemed to be that she even had to deal with me.

Me, the the unfit, unhip, frumpy and tired non-bear.

In the end, I went home and did what any courageous American woman would do, write a strongly worded email and demand a refund. To their credit, I got a reply pretty fast. But - wait for it - from the same hip, fit bear-lady instructor.

Here's that reply, in it's entirety. And yes, I'm including the bear's name - not because I'm being a dick, but because she's representing herself as an officer of the corporation. Corporate bears don't deserve anonymity.

Marta, we will be happy to refund you your money. I am the VP of YAS Fitness Centers.
Our instructors and members have complained to me about your texting for quite some time now. I have made more subtle attempts to stop you but you continue to do it. It is not only disrespectful to the instructor but it is also disrespectful to the other people in the class who are living in the moment, being present and trying to have fun.
I know a lot of people who hold high level positions, people who have family who are ill (I am one of them) and they take the 45 minutes or hour to enjoy our studio and be part of the experience. Regardless of what is happening in your life you had no right to come at me as you did. Your combative behavior has resulted in your situation with YAS. We don’t want members who disrespect our instructors and our members. Perhaps a gym environment would more suitable for you since they probably don’t care as much about pleasing their members
Sherri Rosen
VP of Sales & Operations
YAS Franchise Inc
YAS Fitness Centers.
Feel free to draw your own conclusions. I know I have.

* the photo is of Kimberly Fowler, the owner of YAS, not the fit, hip bear-lady instructor.

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