Friday, September 18, 2009

The Bag Lady Needs Help!

The Bag Lady had intended to write a highly entertaining post for you today, but she was so tired last night that she ended up in bed with a good book at 9:30 last night! It is taking her a long time to adjust to working outside the home. She still doesn't feel properly organized, nor has she settled into a routine that allows her time to do all the things she wants to do. She is hoping that will happen soon!

The first week at work at her new job entailed a great deal of walking and standing around feeling a little useless lost. The swimming pool had been shut down for the summer, so the facility was really quiet, and there was not as much to do. That has changed dramatically. The pool opened last weekend, and swimming lessons started this week, which increased the amount of work for the Bag Lady. One of her duties is to ensure that there are always fresh towels for the lifeguards, and that is almost a full-time job in and of itself! The Bag Lady collects the dirty towels from the staff change rooms, hauls them all the way across the facility to the laundry, launders them and hauls the clean, folded towels all the way back across the facility to the change rooms again.

(Oh, and in case you find it a little strange that the pool was closed for the summer, there is an outdoor pool in the city, which took over while the indoor pool was going through some much-needed maintenance.)

During the maintenance shut-down, management also refurbished the locker rooms for the staff and they look really nice; almost like a spa! The Bag Lady will try to remember to take her camera and give you a little peek.... as long as she can get permission from her boss!

One of the Bag Lady's duties is giving her a little trouble, and she's hoping to get some help from some of you! As a lot of you are aware, the Bag Lady has never worked out in a gym, which puts her at a disadvantage. One of her duties is to do walk-abouts in the gym, making sure that everyone is enjoying their work out and that they have everything that they need. The Bag Lady is finding it extremely difficult to walk up to a total stranger and ask if they need assistance! Especially because she doesn't have a freakin' clue how to help!

Her question to you is; when you are working out - on the elliptical, for instance (and the Bag Lady is ever-so-grateful that she has been reading some of your health and fitness blogs because it means she has actually heard of some of these machines!) - how do you feel about being interrupted by an obviously inept, obviously non-working-out person (dressed all in black), asking if you'd like your water bottle filled? Is there a way to do that without being intrusive? The Bag Lady is hesitant about approaching someone who is dripping sweat and breathing hard and perhaps concentrating really, really hard, to ask them if they need water... (Besides all that, some of those guys are really big, and a little scary, and the Bag Lady would much rather be chased by a cow than one of them.....)

So please help out the Bag Lady with your suggestions and opinions about how to offer assistance without being intrusive! How do you, personally, feel about someone offering to refill your water bottle, and do any of you have any suggestions as to what other kinds of assistance the Bag Lady should offer to someone who is in the midst of an intense workout?

(Be assured, the Bag Lady does know enough not to walk up to someone who has 200 pounds of weights held over their head and innocently inquire if they need help.... or want their water bottle replenished!)

37 comments:

CherylK said...

I'd feel the same as you do, actually. But how about if you just casually walk up to someone and say, "Let me know if you'd like your water bottle refilled or if there's anything else I can do for you."

They'll probably nod their heads and keep on working out but at least you've offered. Then, later when you know them better you'll feel more comfortable approaching them.

Good luck...

Leah J. Utas said...

I am of no help specific to helping folk working out. That's foreign territory to me.
As to approaching strangers, well, make eye contact first and watch the body language. And remember, you are there to help them.

Charlotte said...

Um, I'd be bothered by someone interrupting my workout. But then I'm normally a pretty intense exerciser. I'd worry that I'd accidentally whack you with a dumbbell or something out of surprise. My advice? Walk around the fitness floor, smile a lot and try to make eye contact. If people need something they'll be looking around for help, at which point it should be just fine to approach them. The other option is to catch them before or after their workout (like when they are sanitizing their machine) and say something like, "I'm here to get you anything you need, don't be afraid to let me know if you need water or anything!"

PS> Adjusting to new jobs is so hard isn't it?? I always get sooo stressed out. I bet you are doing a rockstar job!

Gena said...

Once again, Charlotte has good advice! I don't work out in a gym, so I can't help. But if someone ran up to me while I was running outside and offered me a cup of water, I wouldn't say no.

the Bag Lady said...

CherylK - it's really quite difficult for me, actually! I don't want to be intrusive - so far, I've just been wandering through, nodding and smiling at the folk who have made eye contact. Perhaps in a few more days, the regulars will start to recognize me (and I will get everyone sorted out, too!) and it will be easier.

dfLeah - yes, you and I are very similar, aren't we? Could that be because we are related? :)

Charlotte - thank you, thank you! I was so hoping you would be around to answer, because I know you work out a lot. I will try to catch them before or after - great suggestion! Thanks! (and yes, it is hard to adjust to a new job! Not sure if I'm doing so well or not - I'm mostly just trying not to trip over anything or get in anybody's way!)

the Bag Lady said...

Gena - I know - I was glad to see Charlotte's advice! And if you ran past me? I would definitely offer you some water! :)

POD said...

Like Charlotte, I'd not need you to interrupt my workout either, unless I was laying on the treadmill mat having my skin rubbed off.

Unless you have tequila in your 'water' bottle...then you can interrupt to share with me.

Carry a plate of cookies! That always gets people's attention. Or a lit birthday cake, singing the birthday song.

Crazylady said...

I 2nd Charlotte on all counts !!

the Bag Lady said...

POD - but would they have to be healthy cookies? (You cracked me up, BTW! - I can just see myself stumbling around the fitness room, setting things on fire with the birthday cake.....)

the Bag Lady said...

Crazylady - thanks! I think it's a great suggestion, too!

JavaChick said...

My first thought was: Wow! They do that at your gym? I we a gym goer for several years and no one ever did that.

I think CherylK & Charlotte have good advice - just let people know that you are there to offer assistance and they will let you know if they need something.

the Bag Lady said...

JavaChick - this is a new position that has been created, and the manager of the facility has a vision of how she wants things to be. We are trying to help fulfill her vision! (Which, personally, I think is very cool!)

Hilary said...

Well I was going to suggest offering to fill their water bottles with wine but I see that POD already has that more than covered. I'm want to work out at her gym!

You'll find your comfort zone, Baggie. You'll get to know the regulars when they're not huffing, puffing and sweating and they'll be happy to see you approach.

carla said...

hmmm I wouldnt mind at ALL being asked if I wanted more water or a clean towel or whatever!

or merely being flashed a thumbs up or offered a commiserating: CARDIO SUCKS HUH? :)

anything is fine by me as long as it isnt chatter.
Im not a cardio-chatterer.

carla said...

ooh just saw charlottes answer and therein lies the rub!

we are all so different.
Im NOT an intense exerciser so maybe thats why I wouldnt mind?

Im always open to a smiling offer of water (or an excuse to slow down my cardio. ThereISaidIt.)

the Bag Lady said...

Hilary - I am hoping to feel more comfortable (soon!) about asking if anyone needs assistance - my shyness certainly has the upper hand right now!

Carla - it is true, isn't it, that everyone is different? The fitness room is very crowded, and truthfully? I haven't actually threaded my way all the way through it yet! When there are a lot of people working out, I don't want to be in anyone's way! (Especially those 7 feet tall body-builder types....)

TB--Milwaukee said...

I think you need to give it at least a week and you'll be able to see who the "intense" versus "just be done with it" exercisers are.

I'd love someone to notice my efforts and offer a towel or water...better yet, offer to exercise for me ;)

Everyone is different and will react differently.

the Bag Lady said...

TB-Milwaukee - thanks! It's nice to have a male perspective on this - I am hoping that I'll start to recognize the clients and be able to determine which ones to approach at what point in their work outs. ...except that 7+foot tall guy with arms the size of my waist (and believe me, my waist is not exactly tiny!)I'm pretty sure there is nothing he would ever expect me to be able to help him with.....*gulp*.

bunnygirl said...

My workout is my "me" time, so I don't really want to be interrupted. I'm likely on some totally different mental plane and would rather not be brought back to earth. ;)

If it were me in your job, I'd only approach people who are very likely to be in need of something (ie: no towel, or a water bottle that's clearly empty). Even then, I'd probably not bother anyone who is "in the zone," and I'd wait until they take a break instead.

In general, the ones who are highly focused on their workouts are the ones least likely to need help. They typically know what they're doing and they know exactly what they need.

If someone doing an intense cardio workout drops their towel, for example, you could replace it with a clean one without needing to ask. That would make someone happy! But I wouldn't approach an intense exerciser for anything short of an obvious need.

Your best efforts would be spent on the ones who are working out casually or who seem uncertain. They'll probably be happy for your help. And of course, you'll start recognizing the regulars soon and you can modify your interaction style accordingly.

Bless you for caring and for recognizing that it's not a one-size-fits-all world out there!

Geosomin said...

Wow...I've never had someone come up and ask if I need anything while working out...I think I'd be happy. As long as I didn't have to stop and chat I wouldn't mind at all.
I'd say just smile and walk up and say "Let me know if you need your water refilled do you need anything else". Maybe try and grab them as they get on a machine befor ethey start...then if they want they can stop or they'll just smile and nod and keep going without really being interrupted. I imagine once you get to know them a bit they'll not mind at all and you'll ifnd it much easier too.

Sagan said...

I think the best thing to do is get on some of those machines and try them out yourself! If you've tried a couple of them you'll have an idea of when might be a good time to interrupt.

I like Cheryl's idea- and you can also walk around with an extra towel/water bottle, hold it up to people as you pass with the raised-eyebrow-questioning-look to see if they need it; they'll know to respond with a nod or shake of the head!

I think non-verbal communication is probably the best way to go with this one. That way people don't feel as though they're being interrupted, but they're aware that you're there to offer them help if need be. I bet that it'll take you less than a week to be able to assess from a distance which exercisers would appreciate the offer and which ones don't want to be interrupted!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, I've been to a lot of gyms, but never one where gym staff offered to re-fill water bottles. That's a nice thing to do!

But I've also never had a staff member address me while I'm working out. I wouldn't mind, but I wear headphones, so it might take some back and forth to get my attention.

Seems like kind of an awkward job requirement to have to ask after people! So yeah, I'd try to mimimize interrupting them. I think the regulars probably know from your friendly smile and attentive demeanor that you're available to help them out; and newbies are probably better to catch when they're off the machines. Probably won't take long to figure out who's a regular and who's not.

Sounds like a very physical job and a work out in itself!

Marianne said...

If it was me...I'd carry around a few clean towels and a laundry bag for dirty ones and just exchange for people, and I'd wipe down equipment. As an exerciser, I would not want someone touching my water bottle. So yeah, smile, ask if they need anything, and just putter and clean.

Reb said...

All sound advise! Oh, you could get a tray that hangs from your neck and walk about saying "cigars? cigarettes?" er um, how about "towels? water?"

the Bag Lady said...

Thanks, everyone, for your advice - I get the feeling that the minimalist approach is going to work best! I'll just keep an eagle eye out for anything obvious and try to look approachable. (Big, toothy grin?)

Melissa said...

Wow, I have sure been out of the loop! Congratulations on the new job! I'm sure you'll be great at it!

My mind is boggled that people working out actually get their water bottles refilled by nice ladies up in Canada. Not that I really work out in an actual gym that other people go to, so what do I know?

the Bag Lady said...

Melissa - now you know - Canadians are just so darned nice!! :)

kcinnova said...

Wait... did you say you get clean, dry towels for the lifeguards? Are they cute and male??

the Bag Lady said...

kcinnova - Yes. And yes. And about the same age as your oldest son....
:(

solarity said...

I would be in the don't-interrupt-me camp, but I know there are people who don't zone out when they work out. (Is there a song title there?)

If you weren't already doing a very physical job, I'd say you're looking at weight loss without getting on any of those machines. I wasn't exactly inactive while I was at home, but in the two months since I went back to work I've lost nearly ten pounds.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

the Bag Lady said...

Mary Anne in Kentucky - it appears that I'll just have to play it by ear and be really attentive!
And I have lost a little weight since I started working - one of these days, I'll actually manage NOT to hit the damned reset button on my pedometer halfway through the day, and I'll know for sure how many miles I'm walking during my shift! I know I was up to over 3 miles the one day that it got reset really early.

Redbush said...

This is definitely a posh gym, having someone there to help you at your first whim! I wouldn't be surprising them, or you may have an accident on your hands. Ha! I'm with the thoughts that say a lot of gymers like their own space and probably just want to get it done and get out. or maybe some of these big guys are in it to impress! In that case, you may have to limit your gym-time, Bag Lady! Ha! Congrats on your new position!

the Bag Lady said...

Thanks, Redbush. Good to see you back in blogland!

Clare2e said...

Dear BL- I'm also in the" don't mind" camp, however, if you approach as people are at the very beginning or end, you can explain what you're there for. Also, the desk will start explaining you to new members as part of the amenities! And don't forget, once current people know your services are available, they'll start helping you with word-of-mouth, pointing out to their buddies, "See the lady in black? She'll get you a fresh towel or water. Just give her a wave."

It's only weird because no one's used to having the service yet, another week or two, and people will be taking you for granted! : )

the Bag Lady said...

Clare - you're probably right! And that's what I'm there for - for people to take advantage of.... err... sorta.
:)

Amy Mullis said...

Baggie--you're a gym ninja! How cool! Unfortunately my idea of a workout is to watch a Richard Simmons video and drink a Diet Coke, so I'm not much help there. But I can't imagine anybody having trouble with someone as friendly and personable as you asking if there's anything you can do to help them out. You're gonna be Queen of that coop in no time!

the Bag Lady said...

Aww, thanks, Amy! That's very kind of you.
:)