Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Adventures in... Gym Membership?

I'm the type of person who works out because she likes to eat. You know what I mean? I work out a few times a week, but only to counter the ridiculous amount of Coca Cola and Kit Kats I consume on any given day. When I was in the military, I had the luxury of using an hour of my work day to exercise at the gym on base. As a mom, that was a huge win-win. No membership fees, no extra time away from my kids. But if I'm being honest, I was really eating like shit during that time. Breakfast was whatever I could grab from the Dunkin Donuts drive through; lunch was whatever fast food I could pick up around the base. Here in Brazil, I eat really well (except for the Kit Kats and Coca Cola). Fast food is super expensive, processed food isn't abundant (what we do have is also pretty expensive - I'm looking at you, R$10 small bag of Doritos), and it's a cultural norm for employees to return home for one or two hours to eat a home-cooked meal.

I've been lucky enough to lose most of the post-Alessandra baby weight solely from eating well. After Maicon, I was in great shape because I ate incredibly well and utilized a personal trainer. So I'm in this weird place now where I don't have the baby weight anymore, but I also don't have any strength. If you can't tell where I'm going with this yet... I need to join a gym. Annnddd like anything in Brazil, trying to join a gym has been an adventure. I've used my sister-in-law's gym a few times, because it's close to my house, so I figured it was time to officially join. 

Problem #1 - I'm only going to be in Brazil for eleven more weeks. I don't really want to sign up for a yearly membership if I can only use it for half of that time. (We'll be back in January). However, the gym was super cool about this problem! I asked if I could simply switch the membership to my husband's name while I'm gone so that he can use it and they agreed. Cool, cool, easy enough so far. 

Problem #2 - paying. I've tried to open a bank account in Brazil and it was such a huge mother fucking pain in my ass that after the third bank, I said screw it, I'll just use my husband's account. The gym employee asked if I wanted to pay using debit or credit. I said, "Whatever, they're both the same right?" (I do understand the slight difference, but money leaving an account is still money leaving an account). The woman cocked her head and paused. She needed an answer. Thankfully, my sister-in-law was actually at the gym and had just come over. At this time, another gym patron also came over and explained to me in English that in Brazil, if they charge as "credit," they charge monthly; "debit" is charged the total amount all at once. My hero! I told the woman I'd like to pay monthly, so please swipe as credit. The woman handed me back the card and said, "This card is only debit." My bad! I had handed her the card without the MasterCard emblem. I gave her our other card and she swiped again. Again, she handed the card back to me and said, "Sorry, this card is also only a debit card." I turned back to my hero, because now I was really confused. The card was a debit card linked to our savings account, but it had the MasterCard emblem. Why couldn't I use it as credit? The man explained that in Brazil, the cards have to be specifically designated as credit, debit, or debit/credit. Since ours was only designated as debit, it couldn't be processed as credit. At this point I felt like an idiot, so I took out my own US bank card and explained that I didn't know that because in the US I can use my bank card as debit or credit, as long as it has a MasterCard/Visa/whatever emblem on it. I have no idea what the point of the MasterCard emblem on Brazilian bank card is. Thankfully (again), my sister-in-law was there, so she offered to use her card and just have my husband give her the money every month. Now that my husband has signed onto that deal, we gotta get back to the gym to seal the deal.

Problems solved! Gym membership (almost) obtained! Now I just have to get myself over there each day.

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