I had an issue today with the wonderful people at Superfit, a health club in Berlin Charlottenberg (Wilmersdorferstrasse 54). I wanted to just hit the treadmill and use some of the machinery, but I didn’t think to bring sweats or shorts with me to Europe. So I tried to skirt the fashion norm by paying my 10 euro-per-day fee and using the facilities with my Nike workout shoes and jeans. Yes, I know, of course — jeans don’t pass muster in a workout club. It’s not cool and I get that. They’re totally right. But I was looking for a little leniency.
Call me a cheapskate but I just couldn’t see shelling out 20 or 25 euros for a pair of bathing suit trunks or gray sweatpants so I could pay 10 euros to do two miles on a treadmill for one time. I was being a pain and a bit obstinate, okay, but was it really that crazy to ask for a little slack? As a one-time deal?
But that wasn’t the thing. I would have pleaded for leniency about the jeans but I would have accepted a firm “no.” The real deal breaker came when they said I couldn’t wear the Nikes because I’d worn them in off the street. “But these are cross-training shoes,” I said. “I use them at home every time I go to 24 Hour Fitness.” A friend explained that I couldn’t wear “street shoes” and therefore not the Nikes because I’d worn them in from the street, blah blah. “But I walk into 24 Hour Fitness all the time with my work-out shoes on…everyone does,” I answered. “Who cares if you wear them in or not?”
Management was very polite about it but they wouldn’t budge so I asked for my ten euros back and told them they were dead meat as far as any recommendations were concerned. HE to all American tourists: please don’t go to Superfit clubs in Berlin. They’re illogical idiots. They insist upon conditions that make no fundamental sense. You can walk in with leather loafers or businessman lace-ups and go to the locker room and put on your Nike cross-trainers and you’re cool, but if you walk in the front door with the Nikes you can’t wear them to work out in because they’re “street shoes.”
So it wasn’t the jeans that got me — it was the Nikes. This was a fighting issue. This was pear-cake time. I began to get snippy with them on general principle. If they had been cool about it and cut me a little slack everything would have been fine but they had to have their regimentation. So just to be an asshole I decided to rhetorically debate the nonsensical sweatpants vs. jeans issue. I pointed out an old guy speed-walking on the treadmill on the other side of the room and said, “See what that guy is wearing? He’s wearing black sweatpants. Now, imagine that my jeans aren’t dark blue but black. What would the difference be, really? Fabric. That’s the concern. I’m wearing the wrong fabric. I could be wearing shiny black imitation-silk sweat pants or nice black velour sweatpants or heavy cotton sweatpants and I’d be on the treadmill right now, but because my jeans are black…let’s just say for the sake of friendly argument they’re black, okay?…I can’t use your place.”
I wouldn’t dream of wearing jeans if I was a regular or even if I was looking to use the club for a few days. If I was running this place I definitely wouldn’t want guys with jeans walking around, but I’m a nice American visitor and I just want to use your place once. Just this once.
Oh, and by the way they don’t even supply towels. Can you imagine a workout club that doesn’t supply little towels to dab your sweaty glistening face with? I’m sorry but these guys are kinda bad news.