Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Two-Week Guest Pass.

This is the premise that pulled me into two weeks at L.A. Fitness. Two weeks free at the largest gym in Atlanta. All I had to do was sit through a sales presentation.

I met bubbly--and very fit--Courtney, who showed me around the center. She said my name many times, complimented me on my already very fit physique, and asked me many questions about my life. "Teaching?! What an amazing profession!! You must be very smart." What wasn't to like about Courtney?

She brought me to her desk, and I before I knew it, I found myself almost ready to buy a membership to this place. I said I didn't really have any money. She discounted the membership. I still couldn't afford it. She told me I could just put forty dollars down and pay the rest whenever. It was only when I was reaching for my credit card that I snapped to. I'm only in town for four weeks. Why was I buying a gym membership?

Without Courtney by my side to guide me, the freakish nature of the gym sunk in. While I waited for my star-spangled kickboxing class (****KICKBOXING TODAY! 8:00pm****), I sat in a plush chair, facing approximately 150 people who perpetually ran toward me at full speed. Elliptical machines, treadmills, stairmasters. All occupied, and all facing one direction. A huge pack of stationary runners, sweaty and red.

8:00pm eventually rolled around. The kickboxing class would include the usual mix of people. A seventeen year-old girl, able to stretch her legs behind her head while lying flat on her back. She did so several times on the floor outside the kickboxing room. Men stopped dead in their dumbell curls to stare. Then, there was the die-hard kickboxing chick: the one who grunts "hah!" when she roundhouse kicks her reflection in the mirror. The lone male in oversized gym clothes. He stands in back, assumes a masculine and intense stare behind his fists. He'd certainly hit on one of us after class. I chose to stand next to the horribly uncoordinated woman wearing too much makeup and jeans. The instructor had to go to her time and again to help her with her form, carefully dodging the poorly targeted jabs.

For an hour, we followed the directions of our over-sexed gym instructor. We jabbed, crossed, sidekicked, roundhoused, and undercut. The punching bag became any one of suggested enemies: the guy at the pizza place who wouldn't give you his number, that co-worker that doesn't refill the coffee pot, the boss who hounds you, the girlfriend that dumped you, the list goes on.

At the end of the hour I guzzled the rest of my water and drove home, sweaty and red. I'm so sore today I can hardly sit up straight. But I'm part of the fitness club. What's that they say about no pain no gain?


At 8:13 PM, Blogger susan said...

In college, Emily and I had to get up at like 7am to go to Wellness class. Picture this: our extra-long college beds were head to head, making one looong bed with headboards in the middle. Like bookends with no books. Anyway, Emily's alarm would go off (this was before she had the bright idea to set it to the "I Hate Abortion" Christian radio station that was so painful it forced her to get out of bed) and we would both lie there staring at the ceiling, hoping that it wasn't effing snowing again. I would think "I hope Emily hasn't gone back to sleep because I'm about to fall asleep and I need someone to wake me up." When all of a sudden,I would hear a voice from Emily's bed, starting softly and getting louder and louder until it was like a foghorn mating with a police siren, choked with rage...


We'd let it reverberate through our room for awhile, then I'd determine that it was indeed snowing wetly. Just enough to make the ends of your pants wet and freeze your ankles. Then we'd crawl or stumble our way out of bed to turn on our computers and forsake fashion in favor of keeping our delicate Southern bodies warm, our hatred of all things fitness repressed.


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