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Don’t be a dumb bell

entertainment Updated: Mar 27, 2010 00:37 IST
Damini Purkayastha
Damini Purkayastha
Hindustan Times
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Yesterday, I overheard my colleague Namya desperately asking her bank to block her credit card. Why?

You see, about a month ago, she had signed up at one of those high-end city gyms in a burst of enthusiasm. They promised her individual attention, world-class facilities and even the odd hot instructor — all at the monthly cost of several thousand rupees.

The honeymoon ended just a few weeks later, when she realised that “facilities” involved a batch of 20 other people and “individual attention” only came when one upgraded their membership to include a personal trainer — at an extra charge of Rs 25,000 upwards.

All this, obviously, was a matter of fine print! When she tried to withdraw her membership, however, she was informed that the money would continue to be charged to her credit card for the next six months.

How could they do that? Very easily, actually. They had her credit card details. Eventually, she decided to block her card and look for an alternative gym.
You may think that’s an easy task, given how gyms are competing with malls for space in the Capital. But, I have it on good authority that credit-card blackmail is not the only side effect of gym mania.

Word on the ground is that several instructors have eyewash for qualifications. Most of them get diplomas from bribe-happy small institutes and then cook up work-out routines inspired by Salman Khan and the TV.

When someone I know rejoined his gym after an aggravated back problem, his instructor made him do
sit-ups the very first day. A lady in my neighbourhood wanted to look like Kareena Kapoor. When two years of work-outs at a leading fitness centre didn’t help, one of the instructors began giving her slimming pills on the sly. She is now battling with hair loss and skin problems.

However, let me not generalise. Not all gyms are money hungry and not all instructors unaware of the difference between a ligament and a muscle. Just be wary. Don’t join just any gym, read up on your exercise regimen so you can gauge if your trainer knows a thing or two and, most importantly, keep your wits about you.

To me it seemed like too much effort, so I traded in my sneakers for a yoga mat. Now they say that’s not fool proof either. Sigh.