Virgin Active Namibiavirgin active maerua mall, windhoek: facilities and manager

I have been a member of the maerua virgin active health club (Formerly health & racquet) here in windhoek for 20 years, but earlier this week finally decided to terminate my membership.

Over all of two decades I have never received a single email or any promotional material from virgin active, no notice, no newsletter, survey or any form of communication, nothing, nada. While this might be regarded a blessing in disguise by most, what is apparent to me now is just how little – if any – value your organisation places in loyal members beyond a monthly membership fee: the opinions and specific needs of those members that have supported you over many years have never been of any consequence to the club. Virgin active’s promotional incentives without fail are aimed solely at canvassing new members. Its qa processes are focussed on the premises, equipment and maintenance, but lack formal procedures through which the opinion of existing members are gauged on issues of service delivery, staff performance, facilities and user satisfaction.

The club's disregard for members’ needs, viewpoints and aspirations is nowhere better illustrated than in the new maerua gym: a complete and utter let-down to the bulk of existing members, the new facility epitomises a top-down planning process in which consultation with membership was glaringly absent. Opened with great fanfare, the new club offers a drastically reduced floor area and facilities (No squash courts, much smaller pool, cramped exercise areas), an impractical layout (Cloakrooms located at the very rear furthest away from the entrance require all arriving/departing members to crisscross the entire exercise floor), poorly configured exercise areas (Equipment squeezed into constricted areas with insufficient space around and between for proper usage), the questionable addition of a health fast food outlet (Which failed in the past and already is being poorly utilised) and computer stations (Its a gym, not an internet café). There is also a serious problem with a nauseating foul smell in the gym (It reeks of sewage).

But it is the unprofessional behaviour of the gym manager that finally made me decide to cancel my membership. He confronted me on the gym floor as I had my gym bag with me (As I have done for many years): his demeanour was disrespectful and arrogant, and he clearly enjoyed making a loud spectacle in front of other members. I explained that I never use the lockers as I have had my bag and valuables stolen from virgin active lockers on two previous occasions, with management then merely shrugging their shoulders. He insisted that I either hand the bag to reception/take it to my car, or leave the gym. I decided to leave.

I was approached by two other gym members when standing at reception to cancel my membership. Having witnessed the entire spectacle, they expressed their astonishment at the oafish behaviour of the manager, something one would expect of a nightclub bouncer, not the manager of a respectable health club.

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