Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On the Woes of the Gym

last fall i blogged about how the inimitable swaymire graciously paid for me to be able to punch things in her fancy gym and all of the glorious hot-bod wonder, endless machinery and unlimited free towel usage it entailed.

since then, no, i have not yet joined the ranks of those ridiculous enough to shell out $80+ a month for a gym membership, especially since i fully intend to milk the rest of my equally ridiculous columbia tuition for all its worth and continue using the Bard Gym.

there is a special place in my heart for bard athletic center. located in the basement of hands down the shittiest dorm in all of columbia's combined campuses, it's a steamy inferno in the dead of summer with no air conditioning and useless fans that blow hot air on aspiring health nuts, and in the winter it traps elusive, hard to place body odors that can only be described as "malaysian wet market." at UCLA i used the john wooden center only very occasionally because i thought exercising was a pain in the ass, and while i still think it's a pain in the ass, now i have a vague sense of disquiet about being out of shape and telling my potential future patients that they need to not be like me. not a very inspirational role model. also, if there's one thing i learned from my 2.5 years in nursing school, it's that health is, you know, sort of important.

i think my attendance at bard gym can be called sporadic at best: when i was a young and naive ETP student with lots of free time, a closer apartment and friends who lived in the area to go to the gym with, i went often. then i started working, marking a year-long-plus stretch of No Exercise. miraculously, i managed to lose weight, but i think that was mostly due to the initial RN starvation diet and before i realized my work preceptor/adoptive filipino mom could and would keep me very well fed on a steady diet of chicken adobo and other delicious delectable lunches she willingly shared with me. since that happy epiphany my coworkers haven't held back with the "damn girl, you've gained weight"s and the like. (we're like a family. really.)

but it's about health, dammit! school finished and i resumed some semblance of a life, although too little, too late: my gym membership at school ends with my attendance and that elusive "full time status' title. if i want to go to this shitty little gym, i'd have to pay something ridiculous like $100 a semester starting probably in february, when our degrees are conferred and columbia gives me the official boot to the real world, complete with an unmentionable sum of student loans.

and what a shitty gym it is! it boasts precisely 8 treadmills, four elliptical machines, two cross trainers, two moving staircase machines called "the gauntlet," two stair masters, some free weights and a handful of target muscle weight machines. there are apparently two recumbent bikes somewhere in this gym, but despite it's tiny proportions, i have yet to locate them. imagine all of the school of medicine, school of nursing, school of public health, PT, OT, and the random miscellaneous science researchy type people trying to cram themselves up in there. not going to happen.

it's a pretty tight system: you sign up for 30 minute sessions on one of the machines, and let me tell you, people are FIERCE in protecting their half our of cardiovascular workout. in fact, this is where i first met my gym nemesis of 2009, an ambitious looking chinese female who resembled a classmate of mine in high school whose name was wen-chi, but to fit with the spirit of this card-carrying member of the stone-faced asian bitch society, i secretly called her "wench." she accused me of stealing her gym slot which i clearly had not and when i showed her patiently where my name was and pointedly looked at the clock, she turned heel and huffed away, her too-high ponytail twitching behind her like a pissed off cat's tail when you've accidentally dropped a full pint of ice cream on his head (not that i've ever done that or anything).

i've tried my best to discern when are the best times to go to the gym and so far the only time slot i've seen the gym dead empty is from 9:30 to 11:30. there is virtually no one else in the gym; just me and the guys who hand out towels. it's glorious. i have a mix on my ipod entitled "dance" because i think "hardcore workout" is clearly a farce and "operation: look good naked" seems too obvious. and also because i really like to head bob when i'm on the cross trainer/gauntlet. i won't share what's on the "dance" mix since 1) you might judge and 2) then you might judge some more, but suffice to say, it gets me moving. there have even been some really significant life epiphanies involving me, britney spears and Jesus to the background of "womanizer." at any rate, what with the importance i place on being able to groove with my ipod, you'd understand why i'd want the gym to be empty.

tonight i discovered that 8:00 pm is NOT a good time to be in the gym. not only is every machine in use and i am prevented from really getting into the music, but it's hard to book a time slot. i luckily managed to snag a spot on an elliptical and was about 20 minutes into it when this young indian man comes up to me to tell me that he's reserved that spot for 8:30. i politely but apologetically tell him he must be mistaken and he's welcome to check the logs again, but i've definitely signed up for the 8:30 spot. puzzled, he goes back to check and tells me that there are two names on the 8:30 slot. now i'm annoyed that he's interrupted me and bruno mars, and i get off the machine, stalk to the log and see that the asshole has hastily scratched in a "VJ" (that was clearly not there before) next to my name. of course there are two names, you weaselly fucker, you wrote yours next to mine!

i didn't really want a fight (although i totally could have thrown down with him) and so told him that while i did not see his name on that line before i wrote mine in, i didn't mind using another machine. my hands were up in a placating gesture which might have been mistaken as a sign of peacemaking, but was really meant to say, "and you can be the douchebag who passive-aggressively fought a girl for an elliptical machine *cough*(you pussy)*cough*, and i'm going to use a machine called 'the gauntlet.'"

as i was using the gauntlet, only sort of fuming, a thought occurred to me: if i had a penis, i'd totally be that dude that lifts the heaviest weights for show while staring down punier guys. or wears wife beaters/shirts with the sleeves cut off to showcase my amazing guns. good thing i'm not a dude. instead, as a girl i can just talk big game about how i could throw down with people half my size while i use "the gauntlet" (admittedly on a low setting), all for the sake of health.

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