A trip to the Sports Authority — Why Buying Online is Better


I want to tell a little story right now but check back later today for the new review. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes the Treadmill Sensei leaves the protection of the DOJO and visits local fitness retailers. Generally I just show up unannounced and don’t tell the store manager or sales people that I am the Treadmill Sensei…not that most of them would even know what a Treadmill Sensei was, which is unfortunate because a lot of the sales they make were researched on this site.

One of the things I like to do is go in to what we call “big box” stores (large chain stores) to play with their employees a bit. If you’ve ever been in to a chain store then you’ve seen how poorly trained and uninterested their “sales people” tend to be. The sad thing is, even some of the smaller stores tend to have uncaring or untrained sales reps on their floor — as was shown in my recent SportsArt review where the salesman who was helping me was unsure about a number of features on the treadmill I was looking at. Anyway, while in these chain stores you will here some very funny stuff.

Which brings me to what happened this past week while at a local Sports Authority. I went in looking for a fold up poker table and noticed 4 Sports Authority employees standing near the fitness section of the store. I also noticed 5 or 6 customers wandering nearby them who were not being serviced. As I watched, I saw the customers repeatedly try to get the attention of the employees, to no avail. Upon further observance, I realized that the store manager and someone who was obviously of higher rank than him (maybe a regional manager) were having the other two staff members cleaning some of the equipment which had gotten dusty or dirty. They were all very intent on their tasks. Surprisingly enough, none of the staff, not the sales people, not the manager and not the regional manager, seemed to think that assisting customers was more important than polishing a couple of low-priced recumbent bikes.

Being the troublemaker I am, I decided to head over and see what it would take to get someone’s attention. It ended up taking nearly 10 minutes for the staff to finish their cleaning and walk over to ask if I needed help. In the meantime, I was jumping up and down on treadmills, banging on consoles and even opening up the motor shrouds of a couple of the floor treadmills. The only thing I didn’t do was grab two other ignored customers and do a treadmill dance. Eventually a teenaged staff member walked over and asked if I had any questions about the treadmill I was on (a Proform 650E Treadmill).

The Treadmill Sensei…hard at work

That’s when the fun began. I asked her if it was a good treadmill. She replied that it was because it had continuous duty. That comment surprised me because I didn’t think anyone on the staff would even know what that meant, so I probed further and asked what that was. She then let me know continuous duty was something they programmed in to make treadmills better and only higher end treadmills had it…like the Proform I was standing on.

I had to bite my lip to keep from chuckling.

The very nice young lady then proceeded to walk me through the features of the Proform 650e. I say “walk through” but what I really mean is “she read the little info sticker on the treadmill’s console.” Seein that it wasn’t mentioned on the info label, I asked the girl about the treadmill’s incline. What emerged from her lips is something that will remain with me until the day I die. You see, she scrunched up her face a bit and say, “Oh, no…you don’t want that. It will make your workout too hard.”

At that point I had to excuse myself in order to keep from laughing in this poor girl’s face. That was easily one of the funniest things I’d ever heard and is a prime example of why shopping on the internet is the way to go. Get your research done online or you’ll wind up not buying a treadmill that “will make your workout too hard.”

So what did I learn from my trip to Sports Authority?

  • Cleaning equipment is more important than selling it.
  • Continus Duty is a good program.
  • Incline is bad.

I love chain fitness stores!

-The Treadmill Sensei

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