boot camp scam

Boot Camp Disappointment

I almost didn’t buy the Groupon. I felt dirty. I felt like I was cheating on my friend Christian. But in the end it came down to one simple fact: I was gym free at the time. I needed to workout. Period. Christian’s crossfit gym is fantastic and he’s the best personal trainer I’ve ever worked with.  The only reason I haven’t joined his gym is the location. It’s out by the airport, which is as far away from my house as possible. I know myself. I know that if my gym isn’t close to home, I won’t go.

Since I was going gym-free for an unknown amount of time, I’d been paying extra attention to the Groupon/Living Social deals that relate to fitness. When I saw this amazing deal come through, I had to buy it:  Voucher for One Month of Unlimited Boot Camp Classes from Fulcrum Fitness for $20! Unlimited access to their boot camp classes? Close to home? Only $20? Sign me up!

Well I never got around to using the Groupon because I ended up getting a gym membership. I  kept intending to use it and was busy traveling or with the holidays. The deal was about to expire so I decided to use it. Even if it’s only once or twice a week for the next month it will be something different to change up my routine.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a positive review.

First, the website is a nightmare. Links were broken, it was hard to navigate, the scheduling didn’t work right and I was growing so frustrated with the difficulty in navigation I almost gave up. I wondered how that would go over with someone who could be easily dissuaded from starting a workout plan?

The second–and bigger–issue was the schedule. The gym in Sellwood was closed on the weekends. That definitely does not work for my schedule and I felt frustrated with the fact that I was limited in when I could take their bootcamps as a result. Another issue: everyone is required to take a 30 minute orientation class before being able to sign up. I get that but they were scheduled at bizarre times! I’d have to take time off work in order to go to an orientation class in the middle of the day?!?!

Third, the customer service was atrocious. It was impossible to get a hold of anyone. They even state on their voicemail that they don’t get back to people who leave messages and email was better. Okay….email it was. Except they took days to respond to email as well.

I expressed my frustration about the orientation requirement and that I was not going to take time off work for it and they did work with me. I went in for a quickie 20 minute meeting on my way home from work. The requirement met, I tried to sign up for my first boot camp class a week later. A week later! Plenty of time for them to enter my info into their system.

I couldn’t log in to sign up. <Bang head on wall> Several emails later I finally got signed up for my first class. I was ready to go there with an open mind, despite the annoyances I experienced. I really wanted to use my deal and try the Boot Camp.

The night before my first class I got an email that it was canceled because I was the only person that signed up. What?! You’ve got to be kidding me. I was fed up and done trying. I contacted Living Social and they happily refunded my money.

I went onto Yelp and unfortunately I was not alone in my experience. It seemed that the majority of people had negative experiences at Fulcrum. I was kicking myself for not researching this place better before I made my purchase.

We’re getting to that time of year that people want to sign up for gyms, boot camps, etc. Protect yourself and save yourself the headache I had. My advice:

  1. Do your research. Google the gym/boot camp to read reviews. Check Yelp.
  2. Check their websites FAQs. I didn’t do that and I should have. The FAQs will often have the “fine print” that the deal won’t spell out otherwise.
  3. Check the website schedule.
  4. Call and see how difficult it is to get someone on the phone. Ask your questions–find out if they cancel classes frequently.
  5. Ask your friends for a recommendation instead of going in blindly.

I learned my lesson with this negative experience. I hope no one else goes through what I did. Fitness shouldn’t be this hard, this frustrating or this negative. A good gym is welcoming, easy to use and works with YOUR schedule. Good luck!

QUESTION: Have you experienced something like this? What did you do to fix it?