When my comp membership at the Reebok Club expired this past spring, I promised myself that if I really, really missed it, I would splurge for a full-priced renewal. Sure, the cost might take a year or two off my retirement, but then again the repeated hot-tub soaks could add a year or two to my life.
Truth be told, I haven’t had much time to miss it. A job transition followed by outdoor pool season have preoccupied me. Still, the splurge option was nice to have in the back of my mind. Come September, when the outdoor pools go into hibernation and Riverbank shuts down for its annual, month-long cleanse, I know I’ll be wistful for a regular pool membership.
Alas, my remembrances of things past will have to suffice. I am no longer interested in rejoining thanks to last month’s announcement that Equinox Fitness is acquiring the club and its handful of siblings from Millennium Partners. Having not yet been to any Equinox facilities, I may be hasty in passing judgment, but I can’t imagine a large chain upholding the same standard of service that I found so exceptional at Reebok.
I recently learned more about what made the Reebok Club so special from my Thursday morning TNYA coach Brad, whom Reebok hired in the spring as a substitute water aerobics instructor. Even as a substitute teacher, he went through Reebok’s extensive orientation program, learning the corporate culture as well as how things work. Cleverly, this was accomplished by giving him a list of questions on topics such as how many towels get washed each day. He would speak with the chief towel washer to get the answer, and then that person would steer him to whomever could help with the next question. Each staffer he spoke with genuinely loved his or her job and was eager to share the ins and outs.
I really appreciated that, too. People working there always greeted me with enthusiasm, took the time to learn a bit about me, and took ownership of helping me and answering questions, regardless of whether the question pertained to their specific function. “Let me show you,” is something I heard a lot. The happiness rubbed off on the members, who rarely tussled over pool etiquette or let complaints dominate the locker room chit-chat as at so many other gyms. (Asphalt Green, I’m looking at you.)
So why haven’t I given Equinox the time of day when they have three 25-yard pools in Manhattan? I don’t think they want me there. Most of my impression of Equinox comes from its ads, which reflect a snobby, image-obsessed sensibility that is not what I’m after. Unfortunately, it is fairly widespread in New York–and now it is spreading even wider.