Greetings, loyal reader. When last we left Bruce and Mary they had just reneged on purchasing a B&B on the Gulf Coast due to an overdue awakening to the reality of their true motivations for such a move and their truly meager resources with which to do so.
Pure Fitness Floor Trainer and friend Guillermo
Okay, now what? We have come to the harsh realization that owning a B&B is out of the question (but the dream of it is hard to dispel) and the vacation portion of our escape to México is now over, with our move to the city of Mérida. We really don’t want to go back to Minnesota and wuuuurk, I mean, work for a living so what do we do? I am a certified personal trainer and I did do that for about a year back in MN so I suppose I can do that again. Mary is a certified TESL (teaching English as a second language) teacher. I guess we better start networking. I had, when we were still vacationing on the beach, posted a question on Yucatan Living inquiring as to where gringos work out. I had perused the entire website for any articles about Mérida gyms or working out in Mérida, to no avail and the response to my post went something like this, “Well, not many people we know work out but we have heard that Gringos frequent the WW gym, the Hyatt Regency gym, and a gym called Pure Fitness.” Hmmm, not many gringos work out; not good, I thought.
As we set out for the Hyatt gym this Monday in April, 2008, our neighbor Violet catches us at our common gate and asks if we want to attend the “Nafta Party” this coming Friday at the Fiesta American La Hach bar. It seems that the first Friday of every month there is this gringo mixer hosted by a travel agency owner, Canadian Denis LaFoy, and it is attended by the who’s who of the Mérida gringo community, according to Violet who does tend to hyperbole. But we do need to establish some sort of network and this sounds like it could be an ideal venue for getting started.
At the Hyatt we are quite disappointed in the gym. It has typical hotel fare: resistance machines and no free weights whatsoever. They do have a couple elliptical machines and everything is spanking new but this won’t work for me. We politely leave and take a bus up Paseo Montejo Prolongacion, the northern extension of perhaps the most beautiful avenue in México and once again we run into that uniquely Mexican phenomenon of receiving diametrically opposing directions from two different locals; one pointed us north, the other south and after much sweat and many tears we finally find WW Gym a ½ block west of Prolongacion.
WW Gym is a very impressive and huge western style gym complete with an Olympic pool but the receptionist is quite indifferent to us and doesn’t even allow us to take pix of the place. We inquire into the membership fees and they are somewhat insane. They have a sliding scale depending on the number of visits you desire to make in a month. If you wanted to work out every day the fee is 1200P/mo about $120US at this time. If you only wanted to work out three times in a month the cost is 300P. We ask about gringo members, there are few, and the receptionist, in between polishing her nails posits that the owner would have no interest in dealing with a trainer specializing in gringo clientele. We politely leave.
We had had a hard time figuring out where the Pure Fitness gym is located. After much Googling I had found the owner’s training website and subsequently, the address to his gym. Tomorrow is the Nafta party and the gym appears to be near the Fiesta Americana. We have business to take care of at INM (immigration) tomorrow as well, so we figure we’ll kill about three birds with one stone.
Friday dawns bright and hot. April and May are the hottest months in Mérida with daytime highs approaching 100F. After our usual colorful fruit breakfast we clean up and hop on the Reforma Ave. bus to INM and take care of another particular step in our FM3 visa process.
At this point in our itinerary we decide to hoof it to the gym. By the address it seems to be nearby. We walk past the American Consulate, a rather depressing low slung brick façade building guarded by serious Mexican soldiers armed with AK47s. A block later we see the sign pointing to the Pure Fitness gym. It’s a half block off Calle 60, the main drag of Mérida, on its northern stretch heading out of town.
We are greeted at the door by a friendly local; Victor, who we find is one of the floor trainers here. The young owner, 23 year old Phillip is happy to meet us and seems excited about the idea of having a trainer on board to train and expand his gringo clientele. We talk about fees and Phillip volunteers that the going fee is about 50. I say, “Oh that’s pretty good; I charged $75 per session back in MN.” “No, 50 Pesos.” Phillip responds. “How can that be?” I ask and he just shrugs his shoulders. We talk further and quickly we come to an agreement. Phillip is so happy to have me onboard that I can retain all my fees with no gym cut and have gym privileges for me and Mary. Except for the 50P thing, I’m pretty happy.
We take our leave and head to the Fiesta American with some of Phillip’s brochures to hand out to potential clients. Mary and I talk about the 50P fee. We come to the decision that because I have always operated with a different, and I feel, superior business model than most trainers, I can charge more. I actually try to teach self-efficacy in exercise to my clients, so with that rationale we decide that I will be worth twice the going fee, 100P. A whole $10US per hour; it almost feels silly to feel good about that but we do and we are excited to attend our first Nafta Party and start networking, here in our new home, Mérida, Yucatan.
Thanks for visiting, gentle reader. Stay tuned for the Nafta party where Bruce and Mary meet some very interesting people who help set in motion the next chapter of their escape to México. Bruce welcomes any and all commentary. Hasta Pronto!