Gyms, fitness studios, yoga studios

Bruce and I, like a lot of people TALK about getting fit and losing weight and about joining a gym.

In the past, we have joined gyms such as Planet Fitness and Expert Fitness but never continued even through the first year. Boy, does that hurt when you see the money still coming out of your checking account during the annual contract period. At the end of which, we are no more fitter and a wee bit heavier.


In October 2016, we  started talking again about getting fit. I did some on-line research of yoga studios and found one that met our needs. Mainly, it was convenient to get to; it offered daily day-time classes; and a monthly rate for unlimited classes. We joined Karma Yoga on October 28, 2016. We attended regularly, three times a week. The teacher, Laura, was terrific and we liked the space and the other yogis. It was perfect, except it was HOT.


While Karma Yoga does offer HOT Yoga classes, the class we enrolled in was not advertised as “HOT”. However, the room was HOT from the earlier morning HOT yoga class and our teacher kept the room HOT. The temperature was between 97 and 109 degrees. The moment I walked in the studio, I felt uncomfortable and started sweating.  During the class which is called “Power Yoga”, I became totally wet from sweat. I stuck it out until Christmas. We had taken the week off because we were busy with the holidays. When it was time to return, I just could not bring myself to suffer anymore with the high temperature. We decided not to renew our monthly membership.

Meantime, in mid-November while Bruce was in Denver visiting his son, Daryl and his good woman, Julia, I did some research on gyms. We were still practicing yoga at this time, but we wanted to add fitness to our lifestyle. I found Conca Sports and Fitness on-line and set up an appointment for Bruce and me to check it out once he returned home from Denver.

Conca Sports and Fitness is not your typical gym. It has all the equipment and weights and space as a gym, yet it provides individualized attention and training.  We signed up for a “special introductory one month session”. It was a reasonable price and we went 3 times a week for a couple of hours each day. We had a customized plan that we followed and it was updated each week, based on our progress. We liked the trainer/owner; it was convenient; the space was clean and open; we liked the other people who trained there.

We regularly asked what the new rate would be at the conclusion of our month-long session. We were told, by the owner, that he was working on some new programs and he would be able to share with us at the beginning of the new year. So, we took the week of Christmas off and returned at the New Year and met with the owner. The rate went up 58% and we didn’t have a good sense of what the new program would be like.  But at that rate, we didn’t need to dwell too long on it because we felt it was way too expensive.

So back to the drawing board. I did some on-line research again and we visited a few places.  We really preferred to be at one place that offered both yoga and fitness. No luck, until our sister-in-law, Eleanor, suggested Fitness First Health Club. We checked it out on-line and made an appointment for a tour. It is a large, spacious place with all sorts of trainers, equipment, weights, fitness classes, yoga, a pool, and sauna and steam rooms [for both men and women], to boot.


It is different from other gyms in that it has ‘reasonable‘ fitness class–meaning classes other than spinning, boot camp, death by workout, H.I.I.T, and other extreme workouts. It also has yoga 6 times a week and at multiple times during the day and evening , not just at 5 a.m. on Saturday. The pool, sauna, and steam are nice additions that not every gym has, including Expert Fitness.


Fitness First is not a franchise. The owners are right there, to greet you. It has an extensive staff of class teachers and personal trainers with long tenure. It is clean. The clientele is diverse. Best of all, for us, the price was right for membership that includes both fitness and yoga.


My bet is that Bruce Barone and I are going to stick this out for the full contract year.  What do you say?


Customer Service at Vera Bradley

Don’t you just love Vera Bradley’s byline:  “It’s good to be a girl.”?  I do. Nadine, our beautiful cat, likes it, too.


I was never a fan of Vera Bradley. I never liked the cotton printed pocketbooks. They looked too, well, baggy, for one. And, the print never seemed to match what the woman was wearing who was carrying the printed bag. Not that women need to be matchy-matchy in their fashion style, but they shouldn’t be Glamour Don’ts, either.


This Christmas, my grand-niece Lauren, had a lovely purple paisley print cosmetic bag. I love purple and paisley~put them together and WOW! Here’s what Lauren has~Lilac Tapestry:


So I checked out Vera Bradley  and was surprised to see things other than pocketbooks and backpacks. I ended up buying some boxed notes, a note card for someone special, a pretty hair bow for our grand-daughter, a pair of wicked cool flip-flops, and a pajama tee. They were all on sale, plus an extra 40% off, and free shipping. Here’s the pattern on my flip-flops~Nomadic Floral:


The lovely green lined box arrived with all my goodies. The only disappointment was that the tee was too large for me. There is an enclosed form to complete for returns as well as a prepaid mailing label. Very convenient for me.

I looked on-line and they had a smaller size in stock so I called customer service to order it and to see if I could get the same 40% discount as that promotion was no longer going on. “Sure” she said. “Let me see what I can do.” The real price came out a few cents less than I had paid. I was a happy shopper.

As soon as I hung up, the order verification was in my email as well as a customer satisfaction query. Not one of those long ones, that takes a chunk of time out of your afternoon and asks all sorts of personal demographic data. This one asks “How I would rate Gabriela on a scale of Poor to Excellent.” I choose ‘Excellent’. I was then asked why I gave that rating. I stated that “Gabriela was pleasant, helpful, and personable.” And, lastly, I was asked what should Gabriela be rewarded with: A cup of coffee, a lunch, or a product gift~these were shown in graphics. I choose a product gift.

All in all, I love Vera Bradley products [except for the bags and backpacks]. Beautiful designs and colors. The prices are good, especially when on sale, and if you can catch an extra promotion, that’s even better.

When I had an issue with an item needing to be returned, it was easy as pie and reordering via the customer service rep went smoothly and quickly.


Customer Service at Sharper Image

Customer Service  at Sharper Image

As most of you know, I am seeing an occupational therapist for the treatment of arthritis in my hands. [These are not my hands.]


I have arthritis throughout my body, but that is where the pain is. After 2 sessions, I was pain-free in my hands. The therapist gave me a paraffin heat treatment on my hands as well as hot moist treatment on my shoulders. She recommended that I get a paraffin treatment devise for home use and recommended Walmart.

I checked out Walmart and they were out of stock. I used Google Search for paraffin devises and checked out a number of sites and devices.  I especially wanted one that was made for feet so I could also treat the dry skin on my feet. I was considering features, price and shipping costs. I landed at Sharper Image where I have never shopped before. I found a Dr. Scholl’s model for $55.00 or so and had a 10% discount code which  I figured covered shipping. I received the devise, read the instructions, and plugged it in. The paraffin was suppose to melt in 2 hours. Well, 5 hours later, it was not fully melted. I left the devise on overnight and the wax finally was melted.  I gave myself a treatment and it did feel warming and soothing.


However, since the heating unit was not working as specified, I decided to return it. I telephoned Sharper Image and told the rep the problem I had with its first use.  She said “What do you want?” I said “I want a refund.” She said “Your account will be credited within 7-10 business days.” It was nice that I did not have to return the defective item. But, there was no explanation and no apology for my inconvenience.

This was my first experience with Sharper Image and it left me with the impression that it sells shoddy goods and they are more than prepared to deal with refunds. I won’t shop Sharper Image again, nor will I buy Dr. Scholl’s products.