“This week, I challenge you to mark your phone as off limits. Rather than giving into the urge to take a picture, write down your impressions of the scene. Who’s around? How does the air feel? What sounds do you hear? What emotions are you experiencing?”
Two blocks away it stands.
A gym waiting for my presence.
Brick, mortar and the tall glass windows that surround the pool and the parking lot that doesn’t quite fit on a busy Monday afternoon.
I put on my black tee and black gym pants, white stripes reaching the length of my legs. I grab the MP3 player and go. I find a most excellent parking space, right up front. I shouldn’t be so happy about that since I AM here to exercise.
The double glass doors open to a long gray counter protected by a couple of muscular employees who wait for me to scan the key card. Someone sits at one of the tall tables in the area to the left of the counter, while a fireplace, flat screen TV and cushy chair invites on the other side.
The palette of orange and gray welcomes me into the gym. It’s 2 p.m. and there’s a fair crowd of body builders weaving around the weight machines, lifting dumbells, barbells, and pounds of steel and cast iron bars. There is the sight of protruding muscle and the smell of sweat permeating the gym. Some have control of the weight while there is the wild flailing of the inexperienced. The pop/hip hop music fills the nooks and crevices of the room and speaks of motivation. A few people over by the wall are on the ellipticals, ear buds in place while they watch Food Network on the TV in front of them. One girl is reading.
I head into the ladies’ locker room to dispose of my jacket. There is more orange surrounding the lockers, the sounds of the tanning machine and showers filtering down the hall that passes the bathroom stalls. I’m alone in the locker room, something that is rare during my usual 4 p.m. visits. Normalcy in the locker room is filled with women in various stages of dress, in a hurry to make their class or to get home to family and supper.
Out in the gym, my goal is to utilize a treadmill and weights. I had been in the pool the day before and want to spare myself today from wet hair and a wet towel. I have a set list in hand that has been prescribed, which I take with me and climb the stairs to the upper level. I’ve had a busy day and am already tired, but I carry on. Before me are neat rows of treadmills and climbers for various stages of warm-up, walking, running, and strengthening the toothpicks that hold us up. I choose the first treadmill in my path and get on for a five-minute walk. The TV attached to the treadmill goes on and I turn to repeats of NCIS. The closed captioning allows me to listen to Journey on my MP3 player while I watch the familiar faces of Gibbs and DiNozo.
Five minutes are up.
I head downstairs and start on my set list. My friend Natasha shows up and waves. She comes over while I row 50 pounds, we chat for a minute, she tells me I’m not blasting the music loud enough, and then Natasha heads for the locker room and the pool. We have become pool buddies lately, but today we had different goals and desires. She wanted to get wet, I did not. She wanted to use a blue paddle board, I wanted to lift things up and put them down.
Thirty minutes later, I am on the downside of my workout with weights. I head over to a machine that is being used. The gray-haired man starts talking to me, but I don’t hear. The Christmas music cacophony is too loud in my ears. I pull an ear bud out and he asks if I need to use the machine. I smile and say, “No, that’s OK, I can do something else.” He asks what I’m listening to and I answer. He makes a face and says it’s still too early for him to listen to Christmas music. I laugh and respond that I only just started listening to Joy to the World today. It seems appropriate while baking Christmas cookies.
I wander toward the far end of the gym, where all of the blue stretching mats are being used. I guess I can stretch at home. The windowed room that holds classes of stepping and bouncing gym goers lays empty. It will get busy later, the floors feeling the drips of sweat and soles of Nike sneakers. I tried a few of the classes, but found that the appeal is not there. I would rather go to the yoga studio.
Twenty minutes of high/low treadmill end my routine. I had to climb the stairs again, but endorphins had shown up by that time. I wasn’t feeling quite so tired.
Before heading home, I walk into the pool area to say goodbye to Natasha. The three-lane, salt water pool was busier than I expected. Natasha is sharing a lane, kicking her way down to the deep end with a paddle board. Others were splashing and backstroking their way to several laps of the pool. The blue foam weights and colorful foam noodles covered a piece of the far wall. I walk up to Natasha and she starts singing the little fishie song.
Down in the meadow in a little bitty pool
Swam three little fishies and a mama fishie too
“Swim” said the mama fishie, “Swim if you can”
And they swam and they swam all over the dam
We said our goodbyes. We will both be back in the pool tomorrow if all goes well.
I take my jacket and myself back through the locker and once again out into the orange and gray gym. It’s 3 p.m. and business is picking up. In another hour, it will be increasingly difficult to find a treadmill or a weight machine free of a muscle-bound body. It will get worse in January, when the resolution babies show up. I hope they don’t like to swim. Perhaps I will have to visit the yoga studio.
I walk past the gray counter and the young girl standing behind it smiles at me and tells me to have a good evening. “Thanks, I will!”
The double glass doors open, the parking lot greets me, I get into my car and drive away.
Some lucky guy gets my parking space.