Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 88, In the spirit of the Olympics

...I guess.

There is a 24 Hour Fitness (I’ve always thought it odd that it isn’t actually open for 24 hours...what’s the point of the name?) about a ten to fifteen minute drive away from my house--sometimes longer depending on how the evil 91 freeway is faring during the day--maybe nine or ten miles away whose front looks out onto the freeway and its passing cars. It’s always interesting to see people sweating away on the treadmills that line the windowed front of the building as I drive by--they never look happy to be there.

Some friends of mine and me went to that particular fitness gym because a couple of them have a membership there and they were able to get a free day pass for me and the other one in the group that didn’t have a membership. Let me start by saying that, man oh man, are they pushy. Before I could even think about walking out onto the workout floor I was marauded by two or three of their relentless employees and had membership packages and rates and coercions and trickery thrown at me from all sides. It was all they could do to keep themselves from strapping me into a chair and forcing me to endure unimaginable pain and torture unless I agreed to become a member of their particular club (slash, ahem, cult). I’m not joking when I said I had to listen to their spiel for an insufferable twenty minutes while trying to talk my way out of it and just sign the freaking paperwork to get my limited guest pass.

For that reason alone I will never again desire to join a 24 Hour or Bally’s or L.A. Fitness gym. Ever. Never ever.

There were two things that my friends wanted to do at the gym while they were there: one, lift some weights and two, go swimming in their indoor swimming pool. Lifting weights was the idea that some of my bigger friends had; I wasn’t totally into it because, well, who needs free weights anymore now that I’ve got resistance bands and a jumprope? I went along with that, though, and I could tell right away that I was getting looks from some of the other more muscley gym rats that were hanging around in their too tight shorts and sweat drenched tank tops. I’m sure that they were wondering how a relatively skinny guy like I am could do what I am capable of doing. I didn’t mind their looks as I stepped onto the benches, I was rather happy with myself actually.

The swimming pool was another story, though. We had tried swimming at one of my friend’s grandmother’s condominium pool but unfortunately chose the worst time to do it. If anyone ever tries to convince you to try swimming early in the cold morning after a particularly chilly night then do yourself a favor and slap them in their face. A rather uncomfortable thing happens to your body when you try and swim in quite possibly 40 degree water, your body nearly stops functioning (and for you guys out there, well, let me say that my nether region should not be popsicled and then sucked up into my body like that...not fun at all).

I have never been terribly good at swimming, just terrible. I can certainly keep myself afloat and, obviously, I haven’t drowned myself trying anything laughably simple in the water but beyond that, well...I won’t go into any details. For my pride’s sake, you know? I didn’t spend too much time in the pool which was really a bit of a shame because swimming has got to be one of the better exercises out there for you--it’s low impact and it work out every muscle in your body.

There was a jacuzzi and a sauna there so the actual pool was quickly abandoned in favor of the more heated distractions offered. I will admit that it was my very first time in a sauna and man is it hot in there. Ha ha? Why is it that saunas are designed by people that apparently are in desperate love with sharp edges and slippery tile? Where’s the fun in that?

We left soon after that because people had things and work to do during the day and I went home confident in my promise to myself never to go to another gym again in my life. If the employees behavior there is any indication of other gyms then you couldn’t force me to go to another one anyway. Besides all that, there’s absolutely no need to “prove myself” to protein bar chomping, energy drink guzzling muscle heads (who I’m sure really are nice guys who don’t deserve my berating them) that naturally gravitate to those places because they’re unaware that all you need to be healthy and in shape are vegetables, a jumprope, and a set of resistance bands. That’s all people, nothing more is needed, cut up your gym card, find a Sports Authority near you, and forget that you were ever a part of an organization like that.

Also, how inspiring is the Olympics this year? Makes me want to actually give swimming another try or get my bike down and really start turning myself into a cycling monster.

Have a fine Sunday. Two days left.

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