Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My New Gym

Editor’s Note: If you are related to me, say my father or my brother, I would suggest skipping this post as I might speak frankly about the sort of thing that you might not like to think about, being as how I’m your daughter or sister.

As part of my ongoing quest to put down roots and make this place my home, I joined a gym earlier this week. I’ve been a member of a gym or taken fitness classes for about eight years. I started out as a fat chick at the neighborhood YMCA, blubbering around in the pool without much enthusiasm. Then an 18-week program called FitStart introduced me to the treadmill and weight machines.

FitStart was my gateway drug. I became addicted to exercise and started running (okay, waddling along in) 5-Ks. The 5-Ks led to 10-Ks and the 10-Ks led to a couple of marathons. It took me a couple of years, but I lost a good chunk of weight and got my mile time down from a plodding 14+ minutes to a less laughable 8:30. I’m never going to race in the Olympics, but cars no longer slow down so frat boys can yell insults at my big behind.

I’ve been here in Dublin since April and have been trying to get on a consistent weight-lifting regimen, using dumbbells in the back garden. But it’s too easy, after running for an hour, to rush through the weights or just head right for the shower. I didn’t think of joining a gym because I didn’t think there was one that met my two criteria for gym selection – convenient and reasonably priced.

Convenience is THE key to regular and consistent gym usage. As for reasonably priced, I’m just a tight-wad and since we’re living in the Rip-Off Republic, I am suspicious of all service providers and goods sellers. This weekend, on the way home from the camogie match, one of my teammates mentioned there was a gym in the hotel down the street from where Peter and I are living. She said it was tiny but that it had a pool and they were capping membership so that the place wouldn’t get too crowded.

Sure enough, the Rochestown Lodge has a teeny-tiny gym alright. The entire place could be fit into the fitness room of one of the gyms I belonged to in Chicago. But since I can walk there in 2 minutes and those treadmills are going to look pretty damn good in December when it’s lashing cold, sleety-rain during the six freaking hours of daylight, I bit the bullet and joined up.

Today, I went to my new gym and I think it’s going to work out just fine. Since yesterday’s camogie training was pretty rough, I was just looking to lift weights and then take advantage of the hot tub and sauna. My right leg looks like I was attacked by a crazy girl with a stick, which is about half-true. The person responsible is actually very nice and it must be said, I’m sure I gave as good as I got.

After 20 minutes warming up on the treadmill, a short weight-lifting session and a 400-meter swim, I felt that I’d earned my time in the hot tub and the sauna. I don’t mind the 15-meter pool, the tiny weight lifting area or the miniscule aerobics studio. I can even live with the very small changing room. But there’s one thing about this new gym that is a huge bummer for me – co-ed hot-tub and sauna.

Ed. Note: Dad, Shane, you’ve been warned. I cannot be held responsible if you feel skeevy after reading further than this point.

A co-ed hot-tub and sauna are just not cool. There’s the obvious issue – if there’s some gross old guy in the hot-tub, I don’t want to share with him. Truth be told, I don’t want to share with anyone but I really don’t want to share with any leer-ers or drool-ers, you know?

But it’s more than that. The best gym I ever belonged to, Lake Shore Athletic Club, had great locker room facilities, which included a huge hot-tub and a roomy sauna. At first, I was very prim and proper and only used the facilities while wearing a bathing suit. But then, after the umpteenth hundredth time of having a nekkid woman climb into the hot-tub with me, I got over it. Yes, we’re all girls, we all have roughly the same equipment. And if you can’t let it all hang-out in the safety of the locker room, then where can you?

Once I got used to it (and really, after you got into the whirling water, who could see anything anyway?), I found I really enjoyed it. It was nice not having the constriction of a bathing suit. I did try to avoid getting into the hot-tub if it was already occupied, but this wasn’t always possible. It didn’t matter much though. Most women kept their eyes closed. It’s sort of how you ignore people in elevators or in crowded subway trains. It’s rude way of being polite – by acting like you have a confined space to yourself, you are paradoxically respecting other people’s personal space.

If you’ve never lived in a city where you have to commute on overly crowded trains – if you’ve never spent 30 minutes with your face practically crammed in someone else’s armpit – then this probably doesn’t make much sense. I know, it’s counterintuitive, but you learn to go with it.

After experiencing the bliss of nekkid hot-tubbing and sauna-ing, having to go back to prim-and-proper is a big disappointment. Not a deal breaker, of course, since my muscles appreciate the TLC of warm bubbly water and scorching hot air. But it’s like driving an ancient automatic-transmission wood-paneled station wagon after owning a sleek, sporty manual-transmission convertible. You still get from A to B, but you’re not having nearly as much enjoyment on the way there.


At 27 October 2005 at 21:25, Blogger Lyss said...

I do hope that the icky men at your new gym wear bathing suits.

At 28 October 2005 at 16:30, Blogger Shane said...

Thanks for the warning. It wasn't that bad.

At 28 October 2005 at 20:07, Blogger -Ann said...

Heh. Yep. Everyone wears a bathing suit and a swimming cap. It's the law. Or at least the rule. The hot-tub is out in the pool area and then the sauna and steam room are doors just off the pool area. There's no illusion of privacy.

At 29 October 2005 at 01:24, Blogger Career Guy said...

That wasn't so bad, though I can't believe you actually shared a hot tub with anyone--m or f, clothed or nekkid.


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