Gefilte Fish Out of Water

June 26, 2009, 9:19 am
Filed under: Infrastructure


3 weeks ago I joined a gym.  It’s called Pure.  My friend Chris trains there and told me about it.

By NYC standards, it is small, but I’m guessing for Israel it’s pretty big.  AndIMG_2424 it’s very nice.  There are free wights and machines, cardio equipment (though they don’t have my favorite machine, the ARC trainer; you know, the one that reminds me of the human forklift that Ripley gets in to defeat the alien at the end of the film Aliens.) 

There are classes and studios (pilates, spinning, yoga).  There are also pickup, mini abs classes on the main workout floor every hour on the hour after 6pm.  These are great, b/c I lack discipline when doing abs, and even if nobody else wants the class, the trainer will still do it, giving you in effect a private lesson.

The eye candy is insane, it’s like a Hot Israeli Guy candy store.  But it is co-ed.  And most of the guys are probably straight.  After working out the last 3 years at Crunch in the Village and New York Sports Club in Chelsea, it’s my first time not at a gay church gym in a while.

Pure’s trainers design a custom program for you every 1.5 months, so I took advantage of that.  I told the guy designing my program we’d have to be very careful, b/c I’m just coming off of a February elbow surgery and rehab stint for it.  So far, I’m really liking my program, which takes about 50 minutes, and I do every other day.  I’ve only gone jogging in Hayarkon Park a handful of times since completing the Tel Aviv Marathon last April, and I’m not doing cardio at the gym either.  I figure I get enough cardio riding my bike to/from school, work, and the gym.  (Although the pint of ice cream I’ve been eating every night this week probably is not helping.)

Of course, this being Israel, signing up wasn’t easy.  Actually, it was and it wasn’t.  The young woman who signed me up, Michal, was a doll, and I was signed up in about 30 minutes.  The thing is: gyms in Israel think they are cellphone plans,  and they make you sign up for a really long time.  My plan is for two years.  (I have an option to leave after the first year if I pay a retroactive increase/rate for the year I completed.)  When Michal tried to swipe my bank card so I could pay for things, there was an issue.

Pay attention, North Americans: There are two types of bank cards in Israel.  One is called a direct card.  It’s the ATM/check card like we know it.  You can use it to take out cash or at a point of sale, and the money comes directly out of your checking account.  Then, there are also תשלומים (payments) cards that are almost like “layaway” cards; they allow you to purchase a big ticket item (like a gym membership, car, or room full of furniture) and deduct automatic payments from you every month.  Don’t ask me why they need a separate card for that and don’t just auto-deduct monthly paments using the “direct” card.  I didn’t invent Israel, I just live here.

Anyway, the gym gave me the 2-year rate, but only charged me for the first month (plus sign-up fee; did I mention this is Israel?), but told me I’d have to get a תשלומים card and bring it back the next week.  My job is based in America, and I am paid in dollars in the U.S. (so to an Israeli bank, it could look like I don’t have an income), but my bank approved me anyway, b/c I have charmed the pants off the three customer service reps I deal with.

But when I went back to Pure with the new card, Michael wasn’t there.  Snotty Julia was.  Snotty Julia called Isracard (the commercial bank that issues the card) and told me I was denied.  She said it may be because there was a credit limit on the card, and I would have to go back to my bank to investigate and get it increased.

I went back to my bank and found out I was given a 4,000 shekel limit to the card.  The full gym membership (over the 2 years) costs something like 5,400 shekels.  Another Michal (from the bank) said to have the gym take care of things from their end by calling Isracard again.

But when I went back to Pure another day, I got Snotty Julia again.  It was her last day, and she was at her eye rolling, couldn’t be bothered worst.  She called Isracard again, milked our awkard silence as we sat on hold together, spoke some Hebrew shiz to them, and then told me Something didn’t work, b/c you are still being denied.  You have to go back to your bank and get them to raise your credit limit.

So, I did just that.  Michal # 2 (Bank Michal) said, No, no, no.  Have them call Isracard and have Isracard call our bank branch and ask for me, and I will approve you for it.

So, I did that.  Fortunately, Michal # 1 (Pure Michal) was there.  I caught her up, and she got it that Snotty Julia was just not giving an eff and being Snotty.  She picked up the phone and called Isracard.

But we just missed my bank branch closing, and so Michal said she would call the next day and update me.

She did call the next day, but was a little confused about our plan, and I had to reexplain to her that she’d have to call Isracard and ask Isracard to call her counterpart Michal # 2 and have my credit limit raised.  It all came back to her, and she hung up to go do it….but she called back a few minutes later and told me we had missed the bank’s close again, and she would have to take care of it tomorrow.

[readers: Has this story taken so long that you need a pee break?  Go ahead and take one; I will wait until you come back.]

Feel better?  Good.  So, anyway, Michal # 2 called back the next day and told me I was approved.

There, that was easy!

You enter the gym off the street, through a cool, organic restaurant.  We get 10% off meals and shakes in the restaurant.

You enter the gym off the street, through a cool, organic restaurant. We get 10% off meals and shakes in the restaurant.


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[…] of the nice things about my gym, Pure, is that they will customize a new workout program for you every two months.  I got my third […]

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