Fly­ing Lotus - Camel (Nosaj Thing Remix)

Bonus Tracks
Fly­ing Lotus (fea­tur­ing Dolly) - Roberta Flack

Fly­ing Lotus (fea­tur­ing Andreya Tri­ana) - Tea Leaf Dancers

Fly­ing Lotus - Slow it Down

Fly­ing Lotus - Liter­me­ter

Fly­ing Lotus (fea­tur­ing José James) - Eth­nics

You can check out the rest of my Fri­day music posts by click­ing the “now THIS is fri­day music” tag below, or you can see all of them arranged in my Spring­pad note­book.


some things i read this week

This is an abbre­vi­ated list of inter­est­ing things I read, looked at, or watched this week.

Hrabowski: An Edu­ca­tor Focused on Math and Sci­ence — Byron Pitts

Where Good Ideas Come From — Steve John­son

The Trou­ble With Experts, Part 1

The Trou­ble With Experts, Part 2

The Trou­ble With Experts, Part 3

Jared Cohen: Don’t Pur­sue Ideas With Obvi­ous Con­clu­sions — The 99%

What was the most inter­est­ing thing you read or saw in the past week?



A great life man­i­festo pro­duced by Hol­stee.

culture, inspiration

life is short — live your dream

bookmarks, culture, reading

some things i read this week

This is an abbre­vi­ated list of inter­est­ing things I read, looked at, or watched this week.

Gary Vayn­er­chuk Chal­lenges Con­ven­tional Think­ing About, and Use of, Social Media (strong lan­guage)

Mur­mu­ra­tion - Sophie Wind­sor Clive

The Dex­ter Gor­don Quar­tet — The Shadow of Your Smile

What was the most inter­est­ing thing you read or saw in the past week?


health club hard sell

I have, sadly, been off of the work­out wagon for a while. After throw­ing money in a hole month after month for the bet­ter part of a year, I can­celled my mem­ber­ship at Wash­ing­ton Sports Club over the sum­mer. For­tu­nately, sev­eral of my cowork­ers are mem­bers of the new LA Fit­ness Sig­na­ture gym next to our office, and I am able to fit in a work­out here and there. How­ever, the biggest chal­lenge is being able to fo the gym when my cowork­ers are ready, usu­ally because my sched­ule often con­flicts with theirs. After a fair amount of hand-wringing, I decided to join LA Fit­ness. The pri­mary rea­son for turn­ing to LA Fit­ness, instead of return­ing to Wash­ing­ton Sports, is because it’s next door to my office and I am more inclined to come in early or work­out dur­ing lunch.

I am famil­iar with the gym mem­ber­ship racket, and tried to arm myself to get the best rate. When the gym opened ear­lier in the year, a spe­cial rate was offered to employ­ees in our build­ing, but I missed that boat. My prin­ci­pal desire was to get a rate lower than what I paid at Wash­ing­ton Sports Club, and not pay an ini­ti­a­tion fee. I first went online to see if I could find a spe­cial offer on the LA Fit­ness web­site. There’s an offer for $9.99 a week with no sign-up fees, but since the club near my office is a “Sig­na­ture” club, the rate went up to $13.95 per week. Doing the math, that rate added up to more than what I paid at Wash­ing­ton Sports. I decided to go into the gym to see if I could get a bet­ter rate.

Per­haps it’s because I have been through the expe­ri­ence of join­ing a gym, I dreaded walk­ing in to inquire about mem­ber­ship. I would com­pare the mem­ber­ship staff of fit­ness clubs to used cars sales­men, but that would be an insult to those hum­ble auto huck­sters. From the moment your part your lips to say, “I’m inter­ested in join­ing,” the hard sell is on. I am not a fan of the hard sell. Even if I’m inter­ested in pur­chas­ing some­thing, a sales­per­son that tries too hard can quickly turn my feet toward the exit. I think the key to being a good sales­per­son is to lis­ten to your cus­tomer. Unlike many other items, most peo­ple who walk into a gym are pretty much ready to join. Peo­ple don’t need to be turned.

Ok. So I announced to the young woman at the front desk that I’m inter­ested in join­ing the gym. Almost like sharks detect­ing blood in the water, two or three sales peo­ple popped out from behind a wall to shut­tle me back to the sales area. One woman, who I’ve seen ped­dling mem­ber­ship to peo­ple eat­ing lunch in Whole Foods, started talk­ing to me like we’ve known each other for years. I inter­rupted to let her know that we’ve never met. She didn’t even seem embar­rassed and con­tin­ued to rat­tle on about the gym. I was sur­rounded by no fewer than four mem­bers of the gym staff — most of them per­sonal train­ers. (More on that in a bit.) Thank­fully, the man­ager of the gym inter­vened and invited me to sit at his desk.

I read on Yelp, and a few other sites, that one of the issues with this gym is that there is not clear-cut rate. I quickly dis­cov­ered how accu­rate that assess­ment was. I told the man­ager that I did not want to pay more than what I paid at Wash­ing­ton Sports, and I did not want to pay an ini­ti­a­tion fee.  That artic­u­la­tion seemed to be lost on the man­ager, because he pro­ceeds to — get this — take a blank piece of paper and writes down a series of rates.

  • $199 ini­ti­a­tion fee — $44.95 per month
  • $99 ini­ti­a­tion fee — $49.95 per month
  • $0 ini­ti­a­tion fee — $64.95 per month
  • $0 ini­ti­a­tion fee — $1330 one-time pay­ment for a three-year fixed rate ($36.95/month)

I reit­er­ated that I did not want to pay an ini­ti­a­tion fee, and need my monthly rate to be less than what I paid at Wash­ing­ton Sports — $60/month. After look­ing back-and-forth at his com­puter, he turns around offers the $49.95/moth rate with a $75 ini­ti­a­tion fee. I ranted a bit about the ini­ti­a­tion fee being stu­pid, and made some anal­ogy to wire­less car­ri­ers offer­ing cheap, or free cell phones, in exchange for get­ting you under con­tract. The man­ager was clearly not inter­ested in my penny wise dis­cus­sion, and clearly sub­scribes to the Glen­garry Glen Ross rule of sales.

He men­tioned that he was offer­ing me a rate pack­aged for some group. A less-than-subtle way of say­ing that he was giv­ing me a hook-up. He added that my mem­ber­ship would be “Sig­na­ture;” mean­ing I would be able to use any other LA Fit­ness club in the coun­try. (The com­pa­ra­ble mem­ber­ship level at Wash­ing­ton Sports is $90) Oh…I would also received a free one-hour ses­sion with a per­sonal trainer. Maybe I was just not in the mood for a lot of bull­shit at the end of the day, but, sur­pris­ingly, I yielded and accepted the offer. In ret­ro­spect, I regret not hold­ing out to get ride of the ini­ti­a­tion fee, which, again, I think is stu­pid.  The man­ager had a notice­able change of pace once I said “Ok.” Instead of typ­ing all of my infor­ma­tion into his com­puter, he wrote all of my infor­ma­tion by hand into a con­tract. Like the tin sales­man, he seemed most focused on get­ting my credit card. He hemmed and hawed by need­ing to get a voucher — what­ever the hell that is — and hands me a mem­ber­ship card. He tells me that the next time I’m in, they’ll take a pic­ture and give me the paper­work.  Fine. At that point, I just wanted to get the hell out of there. Before I leave, I sched­ule my per­sonal train­ing ses­sion with Joe.

I go into the gym on Fri­day for my per­sonal train­ing ses­sion. Before get­ting started, I remind the man­ager that I want to get a copy of my con­tract. He sug­gests that I start my train­ing ses­sion and pick up the paper­work on the way out. Fine.

It didn’t take long to fig­ure out that Joe was not going to use my free one-hour ses­sion to set me up with a pro­gram that I could use on my own. No…he clearly was treat­ing this ses­sion as the first of many. After my work­out, I join Joe in the same sales area by the front desk. He sits me down and walks me through the fea­tures of the LA Fit­ness per­sonal train­ing book­let. I knew that I was in for the dog-and-pony about the ben­e­fits of per­sonal train­ing. I half-way lis­tened because I was mulling the idea of buy­ing a pack­age of per­sonal train­ing ses­sions. That inter­est was quickly squelched when Joe dis­cussed pricing.

  • $149 ini­ti­a­tion fee/$70 per hour — 3 month commitment
  • $149 ini­ti­a­tion fee/$60 per hour — 6 month commitment
  • $149 ini­ti­a­tion fee/$50 per hour — 12 month commitment

What the hell is up with LA Fit­ness and these ini­ti­a­tion fees?!!? You already snook­ered me with the over­all mem­ber­ship ini­ti­a­tion fee. Why in the world do you need an ini­ti­a­tion fee for per­sonal train­ing? I informed Joe that nearly every other fit­ness club offers train­ing ses­sions in pack­ages or bun­dles, with no fees. Joe gave me some song-and-dance about the fee cov­er­ing monthly fit­ness assess­ments. I told him that I didn’t even know if my bud­get allowed for train­ing ses­sions; but even if I can afford them, the $149 ini­ti­a­tion fees are bull­shit. Like the huck­ster man­ager, Joe click clacks on the com­puter for a few sec­onds and then presents a revised offer.

  • $49 ini­ti­a­tion fee/$65 per hour — 3 month commitment
  • $49 ini­ti­a­tion fee/$50 per hour — 6 month commitment
  • $49 ini­ti­a­tion fee/$40 per hour — 12 month commitment

Sigh. I don’t know what befud­dled me more — the new, arbi­trary hourly fees or that Joe can knock $100 off the ini­ti­a­tion fee, but not waive it entirely. I’m left think­ing that these ini­ti­a­tion fees must be pure profit for LA Fit­ness — kind of like rust proof coat­ing on cars or extended war­ranties on elec­tron­ics. I told Joe, who was a nice guy through­out, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Per­haps it was a bit of naïvety on my end, but I was dis­ap­pointed to feel like the per­sonal train­ers were only inter­ested in sell­ing ses­sions — not my per­sonal fitness.

As I get ready to leave the gym, the approach the man­ager for my paper­work. He’s sit­ting at his desk, shoot­ing the shit with staff. He hur­riedly gets my con­tract and shoves it in my hand. I pause for a moment to look at the con­tract, to make sure all the terms were cor­rect. The rate was right, but my last name was typed incor­rectly — LYNOS. After strug­gling to get the man­ager to write it down cor­rectly, I politely take the pen from his hand and write it myself. I should have insisted that he sit down at a com­puter and cor­rect it in front of me, but I didn’t have the patience.