Seeing as how I’m a working stiff again, I thought I’d treat myself to a gym membership. Now, in the past when I’d say “gym” membership, that implied a health club laden with rows upon rows of shiny equipment, specialized rooms for spinning, aerobics, and a Pilates studio with all those scary pulley machines. The “locker room” consisted of complimentary products such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shave cream, disposable razors, and minty mouthwash. Nowadays, gym means exactly that. A gym. No frills, no fuss, no toilet paper.
Technically a rec center, the facilities consist of a swimming pool, which you can look down into from the second floor waiting area. Each time I’ve peeked, it’s been a sea of children, arms a’ flailing, water a’ splashing, voices a’ screaming… All in all, not a scene I care to dive into. I also have yet to use the fitness room, where supposedly classes such as “Abs” and “Salsa” are held. I’d like to try one of these single-word classes out, but thus far have had difficulty breaking through the stair-running herd that blocks the fitness room. I don’t know if the stair gang is formally organized by the gym or if it’s an impromptu thing, but they’re a rowdy and seemingly aggressive bunch, and frankly I’m scared of them. You’d have to see them to fully understand – they take up a lot of space and they stand their ground as a single impassable unit. I circumvent them by entering and exiting the women’s locker room (locker room is totally accurate – picture your high school gym locker room, if you went to public school in the Bronx in 1980) through the back door. Which means that in order to walk the three flights up to the track, I have to walk across the weight room/too-close-for-comfort to the men’s locker room. But it’s worth the gawks (and that one guy’s comment about liking my arms) to avoid the stairs mafia.
So the one part of the gym I do use is the indoor track. It’s a tiny track, and so it takes 28 laps around it to make a mile. It burns a lot more calories than an average mile though, because all the while you’re jogging, you have to dodge wayward basketballs which periodically pop up from the court directly below, as well as the “slow runners,” who are not really runners at all, but rather seem to be idly killing time by walking at a speed roughly equivalent to standing absolutely still. I kind of don’t mind it though – it’s an adrenaline rush every time I scale the track wall to go around one of these sloths. It’s Parkour lite. It’s not implausible to think that one day my body could fling down into the basketball court. Maybe the timing will work out so as a ball is rising up, I will catch it and follow it down. That would just look cool, not to mention, increase my odds of being caught by one of the raucous teenage boys below.
For the glory that is the rec center, I pay less than $1 per day. I can truly say it is worth every penny.