THE FITNESS CLUB EXPERIENCE

gym equipment      weight lifter

An elderly man was at a fitness club and noticed two young, hot, in-shape girls, working out in tight spandex. He went over to one of the club instructors and asked: “What machine should I use to impress these two young women?  ” The instructor pointed to the ATM machine in the lobby.     We’ve all signed up for a fitness club at least once in our lives, I personally had three memberships at one time. When you sign up you have every intention of using the club regularly and getting yourself in shape. In reality 50% of all new health club members quit within first 6-months of signing up and 90% will stop going regularly within the first 90-days. The thought was there. Each Health Club has it’s own identity but I’ve learned that the newer they are, the better they are. The new ones just smell better, have better and more equipment and have actual light shining in. Most Health Clubs have the same basic lay-out:

1. Main Workout Area – This is usually the first area you see upon entering and can make a fast judgement on how nice the club is. It is the cardio area and the clientele can be quickly scanned. How many machines do they have? How many open machines do they have? Are there young hotties of opposite sex working out or is it all geriatrics pedaling in slow motion on a stationary bicycle? Even the older people want to see younger people at the club. Are people wearing decent work-out clothes? If you walk in and see a number of people working out in their street clothes, turn around and walk out. Does it smell fresh or is the BO just stuck on the walls? Does the reception area offer towels? I’ve noticed that all new clubs have towels for members but after one-year they drop the service because people apparently steal all the towels. Main Workout area is key as that’s where I spend 90% of my time on treadmill, bikes and elliptical.

2. Free Weight Area – This is the ‘roid area where the muscle heads do their work-out. You often see the heavy duty leather weightlifting belts and gloves with cut-out fingers. I am intimidated to enter this area as I am an obvious outsider…you can’t fake having big muscles and abs. Biggest clue is when I sit down to lift I reduce the weights by 100 lbs. or more letting everyone know I cannot lift as much as the buff woman who just left this station. A lot of these guys just spend too much time in a gym. The most critical piece of equipment in the Free Weight Area are the mirrors lining the walls. I am amazed how long weightlifters can spend looking in the mirror…they are there own best admirers. Occasionally you will see ‘roid rage when someone doesn’t put the weights back in same place.

3. Group Excercise Classes – I’ve never taken a class, but it actually looks like a great way to get a workout in a short time. 90% female attendance as most are dance moves which isn’t macho enough or just too difficult for the average guy. When the door opens, the music just blares out. It’s on my bucket list to try at least once. People leaving look honestly happy to have worked out.

4. Pool – I am a swimmer and the difference between pools in clubs is incredible. First, never swim in an indoor pool. The chlorine to water ratio is about 50/50. If you don’t have goggles on your eyes will fall out like a Nazi in an Indiana Jones movie. If you do have goggles you will see all the body hair collected at the bottom of the pool…Gross. Your own  hair becomes matted and your skin reeks of chlorine, all within 30-minutes.  That’s why I had to join a 2nd club with an outdoor pool, it is so much better no matter what the temperature is outside.

5. Locker Rooms – Another deal breaker. I like to shower at the club to save time from having to drive home again. Old clubs have crappy locker rooms. I’m not overly modest but I don’t like showering in an open area with strangers…it’s just uncomfortable. The modern clubs have individual shower stalls with an actual doors…once you’ve had that, it’s tough to go back, more like impossible.

6. Other Members – When you spend 30-minutes on a treadmill or elliptical you’re eyes are going to check other people out, if not out of curiousity, then boredom. I enjoy reading all the different t-shirts which are mostly colleges or sport teams. When I used to work in Hollywood the clubs were packed with wanna’ be actors and actresses…all young and in shape. Great way to kill time. Almost all clubs have certain stereotypes no matter what club your in. The ipod head banger is usually a young male who seems to have ear plugs permanetly implanted in his head, volume cranked up past 10 so everyone in the immediate area can hear his tunes. As they move around club they bob their head and clinch their lips as if they are super cool…probably listening to Michael Bolton. Chatty Cathy is a relatively new species who cannot stop using their cell phone no matter where they are. If you are on a machine next to them you soon will know all about their lives, even if you don’t want to. Chatty Cathys really bug me…really, you can’t put your phone down while working out. There is also Texty Timmy who will sit at a station without working out as they are too busy texting. Ken & Barbie are gym regulars who are so genetically gifted that they can do a complete core workout without a drop of sweat. No hair is out of place and they look spectacular in their Lycra workout gear, both in and out of the gym. The scary one is the Screaming Banshee. Your in your own world working out when out of nowhere comes a blood-curdling sound from the weight room. It doesn’t matter what weight they are lifting they scream out with every rep…like Martina Sharipova playing tennis. I usually find one sad character I call Anorexic Annie who despite weighing 95-lbs. continues to work out daily until they have no shape at all, just a stick figure body. I think there are more issues with her than weight. There is always at least one Psycho Sam per Club. Middle Aged men who just cruise the club , sometimes with sunglasses on, checking out the babes and creeping the poor girls out. They go home to a room filled with pictures of girls they have met at clubs plastered all over the walls…get ready to call 911 if approached.

A good health club is a bonus to working out. Nothing like a good workout to get the blood flowing and hopefully drop some lbs. Most people are respectful of others and are generous to make machines available to others. Some, including myself, even carry a small towel to wipe down the machines after use. But the key is to work-out, then get out, before you become addicted to mirrors or become a gym rat known to all others as a piece of furniture.

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