Fit(ness) to be Tied

I joined Pure Fitness during my senior year of college in 2005. I did very little research when I chose to join, above what facilities were closest to my apartment, and what the monthly fee would be. For the majority of my relationship with the gym (yes, I called it a relationship) I was largely content. They didn’t have the newest equipment, or the best staff or hours, but it served its purpose quite nicely. At that point, I would have done just about anything to avoid having to work out at the student rec center, which basically doubled as the set of a reality dating show/teenage beauty pageant.

Now, four years later, I am living and working in entirely different parts of Phoenix, and also have significantly less time to devote to exercise. I came to the conclusion that it made sense to quit Pure Fitness, and pledge allegiance to its key competitor, LA Fitness. LA has more locations, better hours and fancier clubs. They have a reputation of being more of a meat market gym, but if you can get past that, it’s a better deal. Naturally this realization resulted in a need to cut ties with Pure Fitness.


I’ve heard stories and jokes about the parallels between ending a gym membership and ending a relationship, and I now can vouch for the validity of those claims.

Attempt 1: On a Saturday afternoon I went into the gym, after finding out in advance that it was not possible to quit over the phone. I asked to end my membership and was told that this was not possible during the weekend. Why? The person who processes the cancellation paperwork is not in on weekends. Like any intelligent human being I asked why I couldn’t just fill out the forms and leave it for this person to process on Monday, and I was told it’s just not allowed. Mmmmk.

Attempt 2: On a Monday, I went into a different location and asked to end my membership. A man I’d never seen before was paged to the reception area, likely from a secret storage closet of salespeople, and asked me to sit down to talk this over with him. Oh boy.

Gym Guy: “Why are you thinking about ending your membership with us?”

Annoyed Jessica: “Locations…hours…equipment…You guys don’t have any locations close to my new house. Or my office for that matter. Your equipment is outdated and out of order, and your new hours are not as convenient as they used to be.”

Gym Guy: [shocked] “Really? Where do you live? And most of our equipment is new.”

Annoyed Jessica: “I live in Central Phoenix. And I work in North Phoenix. I’ve checked your Web site and there are no clubs within close proximity to either location. I’m also not happy with the equipment here. I’ve actually looked into three of your competitors and they all have newer equipment and fewer pieces out of order.”

Gym Guy: [now even more shocked] “Well that’s really surprising. Most of our stuff is new.”

Annoyed Jessica: “Yeah, you said that, but you have all the same cardio machines you’ve had since I joined four years ago! Your staff has been telling me for years it’ll be updated within the next six months, but here we are and it’s all the same.”

Gym Guy: [puffing his chest while unable to make eye contact] “I hope you don’t think you’re going to find a better deal anywhere else. If you think you’ll be happier at somewhere like LA Fitness you won’t be. You’ll be coming back here. I have people switching back all the time. We’re a friendlier gym and we really know our members.”

Annoyed Jessica: [not ok with empty threats] “I’ve been a member for four years, do you think one trainer in here knows my first name? No. “

Gym Guy: [getting serious] “Ok, I guess it’s your decision. So can you tell me one more time why you’re canceling?”

Annoyed Jessica: [through pursed lips]Hours. Locations. Equipment. Staff.

Eventually this dramatic little exchange ended in my favor. Somehow I’m still technically a member until the first week of June, but I still feel like it was a victory for the people. It must be hysterical when someone who works at a gym tries to buy a car, or vice versa; do the two powerful selling forces reflect each other like two magnets do?


Friday Funday

Working at PetSmart brings new meaning to the phrase “where pets are family.” Every Friday is ‘bring your pet to work day,’ which is the most fascinatingly hysterical experience I have ever been made witness to. A normally bustling corporate environment morphs into a four-legged jamboree that reaches out to all of your senses. It never gets old to turn a corner en route to a meeting and come face to face with a Golden Retriever scuttling along, desperately attempting to maintain traction on linoleum flooring. Visual analogy: bad dancer on ice skates. You’ll see Chihuahuas, Dalmatians, Great Danes and everything in between. There’s an enormous Bearded Dragon who wanders the aisle next to my cubicle. Meetings and conference calls adapt to a background chorus of whining and yips, and you quickly learn not to judge any offensive odors. There are ‘Oops Stations’ located throughout the campus, complete with disinfectant spray and plastic bags, to clear up any accidental deposits. Visitors to our offices often wonder why we felt it was necessary to put carpeting in our buildings, when we have so many animals coming through, but if you look closely, our carpet is strategically laid in patches (2 foot squares) that can be individually removed and replaced if soiled. Situations that might embarrass the average person, like having your dog poop in front of your senior vice president’s office, or being forcefully dragged into a doggy rear end sniffing fest, are commonplace here and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not unusual to find yourself eating lunch with several of your team members and suddenly realize that you are completely trapped amid several interwoven leashes. Or, you might experience what I did this week, when I looked down to see that Bruno had completely chewed through his leash and was beginning to digest half of it. Luckily for me he was so delighted with his snack that he neglected to realize he was no longer restrained to the lunch table. The only rules that apply to this hoopla of a privilege are that your pet be vaccinated, leashed and non-aggressive. Of course, you may believe your pooch to be sweet as pie, but when he’s faced with 50 new members of his species, things can get a bit out of hand. Just another lesson learned. This privilege is just one of so many things I love about my job. The philosophy behind it exemplifies exactly what PetSmart stands for, and is just one more way we’ve found to keep pets and pet parents their happiest.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe

Jim made this recipe a few weeks ago it was delicious.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion; chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 corn tortillas (regular or fried)
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with chilies
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese-optional
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 fresh lime
1 cup diced, seeded Roma tomatoes or 1 cup salsa
Sour cream for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Slice or break tortillas into small pieces and add to onions and garlic; sauté until they are soft. Add tomatoes, broth and spices and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes. Puree soup base in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth, return soup to pot. Add chicken, corn and cream and return to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle in cheese and cilantro; stir to melt cheese. Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream. For spicier soup, add cayenne pepper to taste.

The Deuce is Loose

Our current living situation is the only place that our dog, Auron, has ever lived without a yard and doggie door. Because he’s always been let outside to go to the bathroom on a lawn, he was largely befuddled when the only thing we had to offer him was a cement patio. He refuses to go to the bathroom on walks, and instead, will only go on our back patio.

For the 10 months we’ve lived in the condo, we’ve just let him do this and picked up his ‘gifts’ on a weekly basis. It figures that we made it up to the last three weeks of living here for a neighbor to complain about pet waste, and force us into daily poop pick ups. Love those HOA’s.

This was all complicated further by adding another dog to the mix. Sure, it sounds crazy to get another dog when we have such limited space, but to me it was a strategic decision: Potty train puppy prior to living with brand new flooring. (Any excuse to get a puppy is a good excuse to get a puppy).

Enter Bruno.

When we adopted Bruno, he had a stomach bug that he promptly passed on to Auron. For several days last week, both dogs were having terrible stomach problems. If you’ve ever thought about how disgusting it would be to have a dog with diarrhea, imagine having two dogs with diarrhea. On your patio. Nothing pretty about it.

Last Friday morning I was ready to walk out the door to work when I realized that we had forgotten to pick up the dog poo outside. I set down my things to grab (what I used to think of as) the best tool known to man: the ‘Jaws’ poop scooper.

I was hastily picking up the crap, literally, and then grabbed the hose to wash off the cement. I held the scooper on one hand and the hose in the other. I even went as far as to screw on the high pressure nozzle on the hose to make certain that no passing nosy neighbor would see any evidence of pet waste.

My fatal flaw was not paying close enough attention to where I directed the stream of the hose. It only took a split second to have it accidently spray into the scoop, flinging wet fecal matter all over me. I wish my reaction had been video taped because it had to have been epic. I had dog diarrhea in my hair and eyes, all over my arms and clothing. I dropped the hose and fought off my gag reflex while making my way directly into the shower.

I can’t describe to you the foul smell that I am convinced is still on me, days later. I don’t know if I can ever wear that shirt again. Hell. I don’t know if I will ever use a hose again. I’m scarred. Who gets dog diarrhea in their eye?! Unacceptable. I judge myself.

After the initial shock wore off, the whole experience became hysterical to recount to all who would listen. Unfortunately, dramatic reenactments will not be performed due to the graphic nature of the incident.


It’s a shame you are so cute, puppy. Because you’ve weakened every defense I have with your adorable puppy paws and your fat puppy belly.

I don’t care if your nails scratch me.

I won’t get mad when you pee on the carpet.

I can’t flip out when you keep me up at night crying.

I refuse to discipline you when you use my shoe laces as chew toys.

I spend more on your vet bills than on my own healthcare.

You are lucky you’re so cute, Bruno, or you’d be on my list. Instead, I spoil you with toys and tummy rubs and offer you more chances for redemption than I would most humans.