‘Chill’ doesn’t come close to describing the experience

“I haven’t tried the ‘Chill‘ room yet,” Margaret announced in the health club’s locker room as a few of us dressed quickly to make time to “chill” before heading to work. “Is it like a glass of wine — you just want more?”

“Lay’s Potato Chips, wine, whatever,” I answered, knowingly. “You’ll want more.”

The conversation had begun when Margaret noted that we’d finished our workout early.

“We’re making time for the ‘Chill’ room,” Connie said.

“We’ve got our priorities right,” I added.

A couple of months ago, I noticed that my workouts with Connie were getting shorter — or faster — whichever. I also noticed that she slipped out of the locker room before the rest of us, when she used to linger so we could walk out together.


“Have you signed up for your complimentary ‘Chill’ session?” she asked.

Every day. Multiple times.

I hadn’t.

“Complimentary” at the health club generally means a wonderful freebie, such as an hour of personal training, followed by the “ask.” The trainer who had just given you an hour of their talented time tells you the price tag for more of the same — and asks if you’re interested.

Am I interested? Of course! Can I afford it? Um. No. Please don’t ask me again. Or call. Or leave me a message. Or send me an email.

I get it. I do marketing for a living. You’ve got to make the “ask.” Far better, of course, if a customer wants what you have and asks you. But, in general, even talented people with extremely worthy products have to ask.

And because I feel awkward saying “no,” I don’t say “yes” to the “complimentary” service. So I didn’t plan to say “yes” to Connie‘s question. Ever.

Frankly, the whole “Chill” marketing campaign did not appeal to me. I’d experienced the health club’s “Cold Plunge,” a deceptive hot-tub lookalike filled with 52-degree water and jets shooting out crushed ice (or so it felt). If I wore a towel over my shoulders and had a friend with me for conversation, I could muster the discipline to soak my sore body parts in the icy bath for 10 minutes or so.

But while I felt better after that soak, I never loved it. If, OK, when I missed some days — or a week or month or year (because any excuse would do) — it was hard to remember the benefit and return to the torture of those icy depths.

The watery images, blue colors, content and design of the initial posters and flyers for marketing the “Chill” experience evoked “cold,” “wet,” “misery” — and the dubious message that this would be good for me. In my mind, it was the equivalent of that Cold Plunge — but available for a price.

To me, the marketing for “Chill” seemed to suggest two things: Cold and cash. That was the sum of it. Cold I don’t care to experience. Cash I don’t care to share.

At some point, however, it dawned on me that Connie was disappearing early each day to go to this “Chill” room. She would say her goodbye, then quickly slink out of the locker room. It was like she was having an affair.

Now, I know Connie doesn’t like to be miserable. Despite growing up in Massachusetts, she doesn’t prefer to be cold. I’d never known her to go in the Cold Plunge, and she’d only walk outside in 50-degree weather if she was wearing a wool hat, scarf, gloves and a parka.

One time when the pool was a downright chilly 78 degrees, she took our H2Go water class in the hot tub located next to the pool while the rest of us shivered in the cooler-than-normal swimming pool.

Yet Connie recommended the “Chill”? This did not compute with my take on “Chill by GHF.”

So when she gave me a gift certificate for 10 minutes in the “Chill,” I caved.

And so began my own “Chill” love affair.

“Chill,” you see, is more along the lines of “chilling out” or “chillax,” if you’re hip like that. The room contains a number of warm water HydroMassage lounge chairs, with subtle lighting, discreetly separated by curtains to protect you from peering eyes as water pounds your muscles into relaxation.

These delightful minutes of “Chill” separate me from a measly $15 per month for 15 10-minute HydroMassage sessions. Imagine sitting in a lounge chair while getting a shiatsu-like massage, accomplished by warm water pounding your tight muscles from head to ankles (or toes, if you’re short). You choose the pressure, the speed, the body area you want targeted.

“A 10-minute massage for $1?” I could hardly believe it. (Please, don’t pinch me if I am sleeping. For 10 minutes, 15 times a month. In a massage chair!)

“You could have had me at ‘massage’!” I said.

Seriously. What’s a more compelling marketing term — “Chill” or massage?

The “Chill” room is by far the health club’s best kept secret, though that wasn’t its intention. It’s since amended its marketing campaigns to get the information out there, including terms such as “warm water HydroMassage,” “spa-like experience,” “lounge,” and the like.

But when I exit the “Chill” “lounge” after 10 minutes of luxurious bliss, people in the lobby still ask me what, exactly, the “Chill” room is and wonder if they get wet.

(Technically, Connie says she sweats if she does two sessions in a row, but the water’s inside the chair. You’re safe to enter completely dressed for a day at work or wherever.)

To be honest, I’m kind of glad the health club took the “Chill” approach to marketing so the multitudes haven’t said “yes” to complimentary or paid sessions of HydroMassage and taken my lounge chair. (I’m selfish like that.)

The “Chill” has downsides, of course. I have to arrive early at the gym to get in a full workout so I have time to add 10 minutes of down time before heading to work. And, what’s more, since the post-workout massage pounds away the lactic acid (which is what makes you sore), I’m not quite sure how hard I’m working anymore. I feel less of that post-workout pain.

Like most things Gainesville Health & Fitness does, the “Chill” room is an excellent experience. (Just contrast the look of the image at top with the images of the HydroMassage chairs in other gyms. Imagine trying to relax when people are lifting weights or using the elliptical machine right behind you.)

But don’t try GHF’s “Chill” for yourself. It’s addictive.

Connie just discovered that she can get 30 sessions or 300 minutes for a measly $25 per month. (I personally can’t afford the time or the money.)

I haven’t seen that deal offered anywhere other than Connie‘s verbiage (which she’s sharing everywhere!). That makes me wonder if the health club hasn’t figured out its best marketing strategy yet: Connie.

(I forgot to mention that by the time I had my first session in the “Chill” room, literally all of my workout partners had already signed up. But did they let me in on the secret? No, only Connie pursued me for the sale.)

Have you had your complimentary session in the “Chill” room yet?


3 thoughts on “‘Chill’ doesn’t come close to describing the experience

  1. OMG! You are hilarious, Sara! Maybe I should start charging GHFC for my services!!

    Connie Steen
    Office Manager/HR Manager
    ANAMAR Environmental Consulting, Inc. | http://www.anamarinc.com
    2106 NW 67th Place, Suite 5, Gainesville, FL 32653-1658
    (352) 377-5770 x 108 cell (352) 318-5772 | Portland, OR (503) 558-3130
    [ANAMAR Logo for Email Sig2] [twitter] [LinkedInOrange]


    1. I know how much you say you hate marketing, but you’ve got the skills! I think the club could at least give you free gift certificates to pass out. It would only benefit them even more.


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