Bally Total Funniness

3 Apr


As many of you know, I’ve had a lot of odd day jobs growing up.  I won’t go into details about all of them, but I will about one – Bally Total Fitness.

I was the morning man at Bally’s for about nine months.  That entailed getting up EVERY morning at 5:30 AM, driving 15 miles and opening up the gym (which is what Bally’s is, for those of you that couldn’t figure it out).  And let me tell you – if I wasn’t there on time – there would be people out for my death and hell to pay.  There is nothing more upsetting to a morning person who works out then driving to a gym that early in the morning (that you pay a membership for) and finding it locked.  Especially if you have a job to go to afterwards.  I understood this.  So, I’m proud to say, as the morning person I wasn’t late once.  Not one time.  I even had my car break down once and managed to get there by 6 AM.  The lackluster hourly pay I received was pathetic for the amount of dedication I gave to this gig, but hey – I have a good work ethic.

I really enjoyed this place.  And honestly, the early hours weren’t bad because I’d be off by noon typically.  It required a lot of self-discipline on my part though (a lot).  Like, if there was a party during the week, I would have to leave early.  If I didn’t – I would pay the price the next morning.  I had a couple of occasions where I just pulled an all-nighter because I was up to my typical debauchery, but not too often.  It wasn’t fun going to work like that.  Especially if someone asked you how to use a piece of equipment and I had to demonstrate it with a pounding headache.  Yeah, that was torture.

The best part of the job was the people.  I learned just about everyone by name that came in to the gym when it opened (generally, it was the same people on given days).  Most the staff was awesome as well.  We joked around a lot, had fun and when it was slow, I’d sit and read or draw.

The drawing part was interesting.

Let me just say that every day job I’ve had, I typically would create drawings – or mini-books – about either co-workers or something that related to the job.  They were extremely funny.  The only downside to them is they were only extremely funny to the people that worked there.  If you were and outsider looking in and read it you would have no clue what it was talking about (they were full of inside jokes) and it was worthless.  So, there was no selling these books or publishing them.  They were just enjoyed by an audience of about ten people or so.  But totally worth it.

I remember that I used to make books about the characters that we had come to the gym.  And boy – did we have some characters!

There was Jump Rope Girl.  She would come in maybe once or twice a week and jump rope. But not just jump rope – she would jump the damn rope for hours.  And hours.  It was incredible.  Superhuman, to say the least.

Stick Man was another great character.  He would come in with this – oh, I don’t know how best to describe it – stick.  And he would beat the stuffing out of our punching bag with it.  It was like one of those ninja sticks (maybe?).  Wooden, maybe bamboo.  At any rate, he was weird.  He had a bald head, glasses and was real soft spoken.  The staff and I have to stop him several times from beating things with his stick.  He didn’t like that too much.

We also had Run Backwards Man.  He would get on the treadmill and run backwards.  We always waited for the day when he would get into a major accident by doing this, but he never did.  Incredible.

There was another guy, I believe his name was Chris (yeah, no nickname and not too sure about that first name) that was always interesting.  He constantly wanted to sue Bally’s for ANYTHING he could think of.  “I can’t use the bench because someone is on it.  I’m suing!”  “My membership fees were more than my neighbors.  I’m suing!”  “It’s loud in here.  I’m suing!”  Constantly stirring up rumors as well.  He would tell other members we were shutting down (which we weren’t) and more.  I actually got along with him, but I thought he was out of his mind.  Obviously desperate for attention (and he got it).

The Old Pool Ladies were the hardest to contend with (but did make great characters in my books).  They met every M-W-F for a pool class.  Okay, one thing you should know about the pool at Bally’s:  every night it gets filled up.  When it’s filling up, it’s cold water.  It gets shut off then when the last person leaves for the evening.  HOWEVER, there were a few occasions when the water was left on all night.  What does that mean?  Cold water.  And if you combine cold water with a bunch of retired seniors, you get to hear the complete wrath of their complaining about it being the front desk man (like I was).

And those old ladies could get vicious….

I knew it happened (that the water was cold) because I would see a swarm of 70-80 year old women in their bathing suits start heading my way.

I usually tried to duck under the desk or something at this point and let my manager handle them – which she did.

Yeah, not a pretty picture.  Cold water doesn’t sit well with seniors.  I promise you.


Bally’s also had some interesting stories.

There was a time when someone would steal the shower handles weekly.  For no reason at all, every week, a new shower handle was stolen.  It was hard to catch the guy because it was happening in the showers, so obviously we couldn’t set up a camera.  It was fun trying to investigate it though.  I had a sheet with names of people I suspected.  Again, no way to really prove it.  He was never caught.  And I wasn’t about to frisk people on the way out.

There was also the guy who kept defecating in the shower.  That was pleasant for our maintenance man to clean up and always enjoyable to discover.

Aaah, what a workplace.  What a gym.

Again, I had fun.  Well, I had fun until the end.  I was forced out of my job, so they looked for any reason they could to fire me – and they did.  (I got someone to work for me on Thanksgiving, but they said I didn’t.  The person even showed up, but they still canned me.  Yeah, pretty wrong and I’m still bitter about it, but that’s a corporation for you.  That’s why I like to work for myself as a cartoonist.)

They wanted to weed out the position of front desk man and leave it to the personal trainers to open the place up.

Anyhow, it was a good experience.  I still pat myself on the back for being on time through it all.  I mean, that’s an early shift.

This Bally’s that was located in Centerville, Ohio, has now closed.  It’s been closed for several years now.  I’m guessing there was probably too much cold water or maybe Chris (or whatever his name was) finally won a lawsuit.



3 Responses to “Bally Total Funniness”

  1. Sandra April 4, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Pretty funny stuff! ;-). I know old women and the pool. I swim and they sure do like things. Certain way. I thinks that happens everywhere.

    • w101njf April 4, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      I’m sure I’ll be complaining in my senior years of cold water as well, so it’s something I have to look forward to. 🙂

      • Sandra April 4, 2013 at 10:26 am #

        Everyone needs something to look forward to!

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