Posts filed under 'Tales From the Gym'
Sitting on the bench in the sauna foyer, I opened my eyes just in time to observe a woman walking into the steam sauna, carrying a pencil and a pad of paper.
A few moments later I opened my eyes again and spotted a woman walking out of the sauna, wearing nothing but a pair of socks.
She crossed paths with a woman who was just entering, clad in very high-end and very lacy lingerie.
A few minutes later, the unmistakable sound of operatic vocals rose up from the depths of the gym; the voice originated somewhere in the long bank of showers, wisped it’s way along the hallway, along with the steam, then unfurled once it reached the sauna foyer. I was the sole audient for a voluptuous, passionate aria, which somehow seemed perfectly staged there amongst the tiled walls and draped towels.
A few minutes later I ducked into the steam sauna to see what had happened to the note-taker and the lingerie model. The steam, however, was at its densest and I could only make out a single person: a mime, visible only because of a turbaned head and gloved hands, gesticulating silently, seemingly urging the billowing clouds of steam into air currents in our tiny micro-climate.
The gym announced, via speaker, that closing time was imminent and the news filtered into the sauna, muted but still definitive. I started to leave but stopped when a voice, emanating from the depths of the steam, admonished me. “Ssshhhh, don’t move. The ‘we’re closing’ announcement doesn’t count if we didn’t hear it. Besides, they can’t kick us out if they can’t see us.” The turbaned head inclined in agreement, and the hands suggested that if I left, opening the door and letting the steam escape would put everyone in danger.
Fascinated by the mime and the politics of invisibility, I stayed. Time passed; it could have been a minute or an entire day later when I finally stepped out into the foyer. But it was just in time to observe a woman, casually disappearing around the corner, clad only in a breech-clout fashioned from paper towels from the dispenser.
October 2nd, 2008
Wandering across the locker room, I couldn’t help but notice a woman who was standing in front of a full-length mirror, seemingly transfixed, wearing nothing but briefs and stilettos, gazing at her reflection as she talked into her cell phone.
April 22nd, 2008
One of the gym regulars, clothed and ready for the outside world, crossed paths with Alis on her way out of the locker room. She threw a casual “thank you Alis!” over her shoulder as she passed.
Alis grumbled under her breath. “Goodnight honey” she responded, her volume a little too high, her tone a little too close to the edge.
The woman looked uncertain, but smiled.
Alis continued, drawing out each syllable to the point of the grotesque. “You be good honey!”
The woman picked up her pace, checking to see how far she had to go to get to the door. “I will Alis, thank you.”
Alis’ volume ratcheted up even higher. “Good job tonight honey!” “See you tomorrow honey!” “You take care now honey!”
The woman started speed walking toward the locker room exit, and leapt over a bench rather than slow down to walk around it.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do honey!” “Come back soon honey!” “You’re looking good honey!”
Dropping all pretenses, the woman broke into a run, throwing a defensive “I love you Alis” over her shoulder as she sprinted out the door.
Behind her, Alis chuckled.
March 10th, 2008
It all started in the sauna, where it usually does. Through the music in my headphones I slowly became aware of a conversation of some interest going on across the room. By the time I’d achieved full consciousness and pulled the earphones out, I was just in time for the wrap up.
“So that’s why we’re Hispanic Jewish Buddhists. But we only practice sometimes.”
Which one, I wondered?
Still working out those logistics, I stepped out into the foyer to recharge my water bottle. And stepped into what you get when your TARDIS lands, simultaneously, inside a political think-tank and poolside at the Playboy Mansion. Alis was leading a fierce debate among a dozen naked, gesticulating ladies over whether Clinton or Obama would win the presidency (Republican candidates having been written off entirely, it would seem).
Back in the sauna, I had just settled into a reverie when I was yanked back out by an unmistakable sound – the zzzzip of plastic wrap dragging across a tiny-toothed saw. But in the sauna? Yes indeed. The woman one shelf down from me had foregone the prêt a porter plastic sauna suits sported by other women, opting instead for a do-it-yourself approach. I watched with scarcely concealed fascination as she circled the plastic wrap around her feet, lower legs, thighs, hips, midsection, torso, eventually even sealing her non-wrapping arm to her side. It was like watching a transparent boa constrictor devour a willing victim. Or watching a self-initiated, cyber-punk take on mummification. Maybe she’s on to something… if plastic wrap keeps food from degenerating… I opened my eyes again several minutes later to see if her demise was complete. It was. There she sat, propped up at a ninety degree angle, back against the wall, smiling, her one free hand folded peacefully across her plastic-wrapped body.
I opened my eyes with a start. The entire sauna was empty and Alis, who recognized that I had earphones in my head, was performing the loudest pantomime I’ve ever seen. “Get up!” she mouthed silently, both hands cupped around her head as though to amplify the sound. Then, while appearing to shovel invisible dirt with an invisible shovel, she added “I’ve got to clean this place!”
As I ambled next door to the steam sauna, I thought I was leaving the TARDIS behind. But the dry and steam saunas share a wall, and so I wasn’t totally surprised when I walked through a bank of steam – and right into a Granny Panty convention. Eight women, all with the same approximate age, all with the same approximate build, and all wearing nothing but ample-coverage white cotton panties with tiny, decorative elastic lace around the waist band. I settled myself in their midst, wondering if it could be a coincidence. But when the door opened and a ninth identically-garbed delegate wandered in, they all stopped talking amongst themselves and turned, in unison, to stare at me. Enough chit-chat; time for the convention to start! I took my cue and left.
O TARDIS, I missed you!
March 3rd, 2008
There are songs that pour themselves into your ears like liquid energy and set your soul on fire. And then there are songs that fall from the speakers directly to the floor with a limp sounding thud, where they lie, fuming. Some songs make you want to work yourself into frenzy, while some songs actually make you want to grow fat and lose muscle tone. My gym has chosen a radio station that always delivers the latter. Tonight I was gritting my teeth while changing clothes in hyper-speed; trying to escape from Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded” as quickly as possible.
Now, in Foreigner’s defense, I’m sure this song was sexy and fresh at some point, possibly back in 1978 when Wikipedia tells me it was number three on the Billboard chart. However, by the time I became aware of “Hot Blooded” it had long since grown cold and stale. And that was a really long time ago. Why people continue to play it on the radio escapes me.
But then Alis, gatekeeper of the locker room, started singing along with the speakers…
“I’m hot blooded, check it and see!
I’ve got a fever of a hundred and three!”
There was no trace of irony in her voice, no disdain. She belted out the lyrics with gusto and enthusiasm, even occasionally getting a word wrong like she’d only heard the song once or twice before in her life.
Interrogating a hapless woman who was changing next to me, Alis inquired, in time with the music:
“Come on baby can you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded! I’m hot blooded!”
“Are you old enough?” Alis demanded of the whole locker room, mopping vigorously. Then, as though the thought had just occurred to her, she stopped to interrogate a woman directly, and in verse: “Will you be ready when I call you bluff?”
“Is my timing right? Did you save your love for me tonight?”
Before the baffled woman could respond, Alis had danced away, still singing.
“Well, I’m hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three…”
Foreigner may have gotten a new lease on freshness.
February 25th, 2008
There was quite a session of information-sharing in the sauna tonight. When I entered, conversation was already heated, and tips on the proper application of sea salt were flying. It took me several minutes to discover what, exactly, we were supposed to do with the sea salt… eat it? Sprinkle it on the rocks that heat up the sauna? Stir it up in our water and drink it? Finally it all became clear – apparently if you take a shower then stick sea salt all over your wet skin, then go sit in the sauna, the sea salt will make you detoxify faster. Who knew?
Then we moved on to the magical powers of potassium. Everyone takes potassium supplements apparently, and it does amazing things for the body. It’s good for the liver, bears some relationship with the sweating and drinking of water that go on in the sauna… and the lady who was clearly the leader in sauna-sophistication and savvy gets her potassium by prescription from a doctor in Paris!
Juniper berries are nature’s third miracle; you can drink them in tea, or you can buy them in powder form and put them on cellulite, where apparently they make good things happen.
Last but not least, I learned that when losing copious amounts of weight, as we all plan to do from coming to the gym and hanging out in the sauna for hours at a time, stretch marks become a concern. No problem – oil yourself inside and out, and always work out in extra-tight clothing so nothing moves and the skin has no reason to stretch. Brilliant!
Beauty Bulletin: menopause apparently makes your eyebrows stop growing… ?
February 21st, 2008