Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My gym

I used to go to a wellness center.  It’s part of a fine medical complex near me, staffed by courteous and knowledgeable trainers who assess fitness and establish and monitor programs to make members more fit.  Sounds good, but it didn’t work for me.  I began there in physical therapy to alleviate my near debilitating back pain.  PT didn’t help, but I liked the facility so much I signed on for physical fitness.

In some feng shui moment, the parking area of this large medical complex was laid out in concentric circles so the closest parking is a small half circle, a little more in the next circle and so on out.  Four handicap spots are allotted near the building, but still a fair hike in.  So, my first stop generally was at the suggestion box, explaining how management could facilitate handicap parking.  I would get a phone call from a bright young thing explaining they alloted more spaces than the federal guidelines required.   I switched my tactics to leaving the number of handicap placards I’d counted on the walk in from the outfield on my suggestion box note.  No one was impressed; I did not prevail.  I went looking for another place to work out, and found my gym.

I made an appointment with a pleasant young man to look at the nearby gym.  He is a fitness instructor, working on his master’s degree in the subject.  I recognized all the equipment, quizzed the young man on his credentials.  It was a downsize version of the wellness center, sans pool, locker rooms, showers and towels.  Like the wellness center, it did not smell like a gym.  Unlike the wellness center, there were no bottles of disinfectant and wipe down cloths hanging from each piece of equipment.  But, there was a paper towel dispenser with a bottle of disinfectant on top. 

I went to the desk and asked about signing up.  It was about two in the afternoon and there was only one person there, using the equipment.  The two year, one year and month to month contracts were explained.  I figured a gym this quiet might be on the shaky side of financially stable, so I opted for month to month, still almost two thirds less cost than the fitness center!   I came back the next day for specific instruction on various pieces of equipment and I now I show up three times a week.

There usually are two or three young men in there, working with huge weights when the old lady shows up.  I had to ask them to lower the certainly illegal decibel level of their music so I could hear my book while I work out, so the first thing I see when I pull to the curb is someone scurrying to the source of the music.  The doors definitely do not vibrate when I reach them.

They all say hello and I find out how their college classes are progressing.  Then we go our separate ways.  They grunt and groan with the free weights and I do the same with my ten pounders.  The first time they shook the floor I looked up and saw two of them bringing in a tire from a piece of construction equipment.  They flipped it flat side to flat side around the entire room.  Later I heard a rhythmic sound and looked up to see a couple of them swinging sledge hammers against it, regular Paul Bunyons. 

One young fellow sat down on the next piece of equipment and chatted about his grandmother; he wished she would do something “like you do” instead of sitting on the sofa and complaining.  Another one got to chatting about his grandmother one day. He said he dropped in on her unannounced one afternoon. Her neighbor came out of her door and went back to his assisted living quarters before his grandmother let him in.  He hoped that wasn’t too much information, but he liked to see older people happy and busy.

My gym isn't going to fold.  It’s packed in the evenings and on weekends. That’s a relief; I’d miss those kids.


  1. I reckon they would miss you too.

  2. Next thing you know, you'll be tire flipping with them.

  3. You probably do more good for them by being there, than you do for yourself.

  4. I have been going to Curves for Women for two years. I would never have considered going to a regular gym to exercise for fear of being an object of ridicule. Sharing equipment with men would be a big turn-off, even if they are cute college boys.