08 June 2012
To Do: Cancel Health Club Membership
I'm working on my long list of moving tasks - cancel, this, return that, arrange it, change it, phone call, phone call, phone call - one item being "cancel health club membership." Finding our health club was a total score, one of the things that helped us feel settled and positive about starting a life here. On the list of "things we need to make a life," a nice health club is at the top of the list along with nice places to walk, good biking roads, a variety of restaurants, nice grocery stores, independent film venues, and food and retail within walking distance. In order for me to get my ass off the couch, a health club has to be better than my house. It needs to have yoga and a sauna and nice showers that make me WANT to take a shower - instead of just swiping a baby wipe in my pits so I can get the hell out of there.
There are lots of storefront, ten dollar a month, key card entry places around that are not nicer than my house. The kind with no staff to protect you from serial killers in the locker room. And there are a few YMCA's (that's a baby wipe shower for sure) - but the big, beautiful, all-inclusive health club is not really a thing around here.
But we found a good compromise that was part of a hospital. And because it provided hospital services, it was a very inclusive place; there were people with a variety of mental and physical challenges and the average age of most of the clientele was around 782. There were no hardbodies or muscleheads. Mostly soft people. Which is much better for the self-esteem and gives the place a very I'm OK/You're OK kind of vibe. The ladies in the locker room loved me and always said things like "Oh my, you look like you've been working so hard! Good for you!" And the bathroom smelled faintly of old-lady-bottom. Like a combination of farts and powder. It's not a totally unpleasant smell. Somewhat nostalgic (of what?). But it did make me wonder if old ladies fart powder or if they powder their farts.
And with old people, there is a lot more nudity in the locker room because each item of clothing takes a little longer to put on. Putting on underpants takes a lot of balance and concentration so it's best to take your time. In fact, one day I saw a woman walking around wearing nothing but a Norwegian sweater and shoes. That's it. Just her maryjanes and her Christmas sweater. Perhaps putting on the underpants was just too big a task - and it would be unsanitary to walk around barefoot.
Going to my first yoga class at the health club was like getting my life back on track, finding my groove again. I was late so I quickly entered and removed my shoes while the instructor stealthily got a chair for me, never stopping her instruction to the other students to breeeeeeeethe...........and reeeeeeeeeech. I got settled. I breeeeeeeeethed. I reeeeeeeeeeched. The instructor sounded like a yoga DVD: "two-o-o-o-o-o minutes...........of to-o-o-o-o-otal stillness...........can add hours.............of alertness...........to your daa-a-a-a-y............"
But then she'd switch into her normal voice in between instructions: "Reeeeeeeeeech for the sky-y-y-y (low and mellifluous)............oh my gawd the weathuh is ruinin' my hai-uh today! ...........and o-o-o-open........your hi-i-i-i-ips (low and mellifluous)."
After several minutes in our chairs, I'm getting antsy. I start to wonder "When will we get out of the chairs?" I look around at the other people to see if anyone else is antsy. And omigod.........it slowly starts to dawn on me........
This...... is a sit 'n be fit class. For the let's-not-break-a-hip crowd.
But I'm already in the chair, already participating, even lifting my foot off the ground and holding........holding........holding.........and gently putting it back on the floor. To leave now would be too obvious. And rude. It would be like saying "I am way too fit for this shit. Watch me get up and down off the floor by myself! I'm blowin' this pop stand!"
So I stay for the whole class. Lifting my heavy foot and gently placing it back on the floor.
Even when I start working with a personal trainer, I'm the youngest one in the room. My trainer is a post-menopausal southern belle with a body like Eva Longoria. She's old but she could kick my ass. At our second session, she whispers out of the side of her mouth, while looking the other direction, "So..........how do you like it here?" I give her my reserved and diplomatic reply but she sees through it instantly. "I'm telling you, sugar.......I've been here 23 years but as soon as my sons graduate from high school, I'm going home. I'm not even saying goodbye."
And even though that wasn't a wholly positive sentiment, she made the health club into a place that I could go and not be the only outsider. I'd be a clean outsider, and I would smell faintly of old-lady-bottom, but I would not be alone.
So now the health club membership is cancelled. One down, nine hundred and ninety nine more to go.