Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Joins a Nicer Gym

For many years, I was a member of gym I'll call "Always Open for Exercise". "Always Open" lived up to its namesake and stayed open all the time, but of course the only time I (and most other normal people) went to the gym was right after work and on a few ambitious Saturdays.

On days that I would go to the gym for a class, say kickboxing, I would have to show up at least twenty minutes early for fear that there wouldn't be enough room for me in the class. If there was, I shared the room with what any fire marshall would call "maximum occupancy", and spent the next hour both working out and trying to swat away appendages coming at me in equal measure.

On days that I would intend on spending an hour on the treadmill, I would wave through a sea of smelly, drooling men (and women), who spent more time fixing their hair in the mirror than doing any sort of exercise. Many of these people would spend hours on end chatting up the lonely housewife on the bicycles, the high school students signing people in, and anyone else who would be willing to hear their own embellished story of physical fitness. All this while waiting impatiently for the person on the eliptical to hurry and get off the machine; all this while trying to breathe through my mouth to avoid the stench of BO.

A woman in her thirties pays a little more (okay, a lot more) for a gym membership, but the returns are great. No lines for machines, no sweaty forty-somethings eyeing me doing squats, no sweat falling in tiny streams from behind the treadmill belt. It's a great feeling to get to a gym, walk in, and tune into Oprah in high-def on the flatscreen, and get to work. And when it's done, the only thing I have to complain about is the stunning inferiority I feel after working out next to people who could easily be mistaken for models.

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