Homeless Woman Gets Support From Lexington Planet Fitness

By Natalie Szrajer
Posted 11/10/22

Becoming homeless is the last thing Tamara Malloy imagined for herself. 

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Homeless Woman Gets Support From Lexington Planet Fitness


Becoming homeless is the last thing Tamara Malloy imagined for herself. 

The decision to live out of her car was a combination of necessity and choice, she told the Chronicle. Malloy has chronicled her experience residing in her vehicle and frequently parking at the Lexington Planet Fitness via TikTok.

“A culmination of things happened that made me choose between my two youngest sons being homeless or me being homeless, and I chose me,” she said.

She has three grown boys, two of which live out of state. She chose to help out her children who were facing difficulties of their own. As a mom, the last thing she wanted was to see any of her children face the possibility of homelessness. She also had an apartment lease about to expire and other bills mounting, including car taxes, registration and insurance payments.

Malloy saw her savings quickly dwindle. Buying a house was out of the question and rental prices were more than mortgage payments. She decided to stay in her car until she could eventually save up for a place of her own.

But she’s also kept living.

Malloy continues to work her job at the University of South Carolina and while researching where she could shower, Planet Fitness eventually popped up. She figured she could afford the $10 monthly payment, which would allow her to shower and even get in a workout if she wanted. 

The Lexington gym is also open until 10 p.m. or later most days of the week, including three days when it’s open 24 hours, so she felt safer being in the parking lot knowing that there would almost always be someone working in the gym.

While Malloy had researched her options and prepared for living in her car, nothing could prepare her mental and emotional health for what she would endure. 

“My feelings of self-worth diminished,” she said. “I became paranoid and thought that everyone was judging me or ignoring my presence because they had figured out that I was homeless. I struggled with a real sadness that gripped me, especially at night when I was alone and the feeling that I didn’t ‘belong’ anywhere set in.” 

She had feelings of failure, and her outgoing personality changed.

“I started to develop an understanding of other people in similar or even worse situations,” Malloy said. “I could see how people get to the point they want to turn off emotionally, so they won’t care what other people think, they don’t worry about personal safety, hygiene becomes less important. It was like I could see the timeline of the demise of these things more and really comprehend how and why it happens.”

But while she thought she was going unnoticed by Planet Fitness staff,  one employee who worked the night shift discovered her situation.

Johnny Cribb, a former cop, is an overnight front desk clerk and started putting together clues after noticing her coming in and leaving hastily. He knew he wanted to talk with her, but he also wanted to make sure she wasn’t scared or had any feelings of inadequacy. 

He spoke to her without allowing others to be aware of her situation and simply told her if there was anything she needed to let him know.

“After all, she is our customer and we try to take care of our customers the best we’re able to,” he said.

“Don’t be afraid to reach your hand out to those who may need help even if they don’t accept it at first. It’s hard for someone to trust you until they realize you’re trying to help.”

Thanks to some friends, she will be able to borrow a camper for a little while, and one of her sons finally secured a job. 

“This journey has been a rollercoaster of emotions,” she said. “I never expected to find myself in this position. While I might be surviving more than I’m thriving right now, I am grateful for some parts of this experience and meeting Johnny is one of them. My interaction with him came at one of my lowest points and his genuine kindness encouraged me and renewed my hope that there are truly more decent people out there than we realize.”


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