Exercise My Right

I have been feeling the need to do something different for a while now. And I’ve even talked over with my friends and family about pursuing various other avenues of interests but I just haven’t gotten around to doing anything about it yet—as I find myself continually making excuses and always having to do something else instead. So today, in a fit of trying something along the lines of change, I strolled down to my neighborhood gym and forced myself to check it out.

It’s located only three blocks away toward the better part of downtown from where I live, where there are some nice trees with less trash on the ground and even some little manicured bushes along the edge of a courtyard in front of the building. The property, amazingly enough even for this neighborhood, is free of anyone living on the quaint park benches or passed out drunk amongst those nice little hedges. Obviously there’s probably a couple a really nasty security guards roaming around all the time and they don’t allow such goings on to prevail.

But none the less it still has a sort of uptown feel to the place. Upon entering through the plate glass front doors, I notice a petit walleyed woman busy talking on her cell phone as she’s manning the front desk and I politely interrupt her to inquire as to how someone goes about joining a gym like this. And she immediately hangs up her cell phone and with a really high voice she says excuse me and uses the phone on the desk in front of her to call for someone to come downstairs – “ASAP”, making me wonder am I scaring her that much that she needs to call security to escort me out? But it turns out that that’s just how they do it here and before she will even quote me a price or discuss money, she hands me an application to fill out and says that someone will be down soon to take me upstairs so that I can have a look around.

And in less than a minute a rather attractive short dark-haired girl arrives to take me on a tour of the place. And as we walked around through the different rooms filled with people working out on various exercise machines, she talks nonstop about the benefits of exercising and explains the different features that this establishment has to offer, all the while hinting that if I just play my cards right they will be at my disposal in no time at all.

“So, are you here to lose weight, gain muscle mass or just get in shape?” she asks.

“I really don’t know” was my first response, and obviously not one that she was used to hearing. And with a little wide-eyed what-do-we-have-here sorta look she says “You’ve been to a gym before, haven’t you?”

“No, not really, lifted some weights, done some calisthenics, played soccer about thirty five years ago.”

“Oh, so you’ve lifted weights before? Where did you do that?”

“On the yard at San Quentin. That was of course before the Department of Corrections took away all the free weights and now they don’t have any.”

This elicits another strange look; this time accompanied by a nervous laugh.

“You see the fact of the matter is that I’ve never been to a real gym before and to tell you the truth I find the whole thing rather stupid and just coming here I feel embarrassed!”

Actually even more so now that she’d shown me those people in that other room running on treadmills with their blank expressions and repressed looks of agony. I can only imagine that if I didn’t live in a dirty polluted city like this then maybe I could jog outside on the grass instead of being like these people barricaded in sterility and afraid of the outdoors.

“You certainly do have an interesting way of looking at things.” She said. “But I come here every day, and I’m not embarrassed by it in the least bit”

“Well you should be and as a matter of fact I’m embarrassed for you! You’re an exercise slinger who won’t even tell me how much it is to become a member so that I too can engage in these zombie like activities in the name of health!”

“Sir I was getting to the financial requirements. It’s just that we like our future members to know everything before we ask them to pay. Maybe this just isn’t for you?”

“Unfortunately I really have no choice.” Is all that I can manage to answer her with as the harsh reality is that I live in an apartment the size of a Volkswagen, I drive to work, where I sit at a computer for half of the day and then drive home and again sit at a computer and write all night. And if I did actually do something in the hopes of alleviating my inactivity. Like as if I was to go jogging around my neighborhood then if some crackhead didn’t try and mug me the cops would probably pull me over to see if I’d committed some crime! Besides, on a good day if I walk more than a block to get coffee I find myself gasping for breath! So give me a break! And what was wrong with this smiling woman? Was my money’s no good here or something?

“Now we do have several plans to choose from. One where a trainer shows you what you need to know, especially for those problem areas. And then instructs you on every step of the way including your diet. Or there’s the Super Sports Center Plan where you get precision cardio-vascular measurements while you work out and we computer analyze the results to program a workout regime just right for you. Or there’s…”

“How about the plan where I give you my money and you leave me alone so that I can just come in when I want to and start trying to not be so self-conscious about being here?”

“Yes that could be arranged. But you’re the one that said that you’d never been to a gym before!”

“Ok, correct me if I’m wrong. But from what I can see I’m either lifting something heavy in that room or I’m with the rest of those people over there jogging in tandem as I stare at those food commercials playing on the television that’s hanging from the ceiling. Like how hard is that to figure out?”

“I think you’ll find that there’s a lot more to exercise than what meets they eye!”

“Want me to show you my cardio vascular?”

“Excuse me?”

“Never mind. It says 24 hour on the sign outside. Does that mean that you’re open 24 hours all the time?”

“Ah, no. Only weeknights and then on the weekends we close at 11 pm.”

“So you’re already lying to me aren’t you?”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

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