I’ve invested a great deal of time and thought over the years into sneaking visiting relatives into gyms. Restrictive guest policies combined with the crazy cost of one-time gym passes means there’s real pressure to try and outthink the front desk staff.
My uncle is a master in this area. He’s one of those guys who needs only some kind of identification – I’ve seen him use a library card – to talk his way past the turnstiles. My uncle’s basic strategy is to just keep moving. When he’s greeted at the front desk, my uncle immediately asks for a towel, then exploits the confusion.
There are also successful variations of the two-in, one-out method. This tactic is modeled after the fraternity approach to college football games. Two people enter a stadium with legitimate passes; one person stays, while the other walks back out with two passes in his pocket, ready to retrieve someone from the outside. Here’s how this works at the gym. You’ll first check in at the front desk, then loudly forget something in your car. You give your card to your relative waiting outside, and stride back through with nothing, having already shown your bona fides.
Of course, there’s always a chance that the front desk will be empty. Or better yet, the attendant simply doesn’t care.
Yesterday, my mother and I drove to my gym with only my valid gym card and a local resident guest pass – totally inapplicable in her case. During the ride over, we rehearsed all kinds of stories and contingencies to get her through the gate.
At the turnstile, I scanned my card and she strolled through. I scanned my card again and I strolled through. We both nodded to the woman behind the desk and headed toward the locker rooms.
Just keep moving.