Archive for March 19th, 2007

Tales From the Gym – Why You Shouldn’t Cry Wolf in the Sauna

We’ve probably all had the experience by now – you’re sitting in a public toilet stall when the person next door suddenly begins speaking in loud clear tones. “Hello? Hello?? Can you hear me???”

I think one time I was so convinced the person was speaking to me, and in some distress, that I actually answered. Of course, I quickly figured out that the person had just placed a cell phone call and was battling to be heard in spite of the (surprise) sketchy reception afforded by a concrete public bathroom. So never again will I answer cries of distress coming from a public bathroom stall. A generation of improprietous cell phone users has cried wolf too many times, and victims of bathroom emergencies are out of luck!

In any case, something similar happened in the sauna the other day. A woman came in and, instead of picking a bench, dropped silently to the floor and then stuck her feet straight up in the air. I opened my eyes enough to be sure – yes, she was doing a headstand in the middle of the sauna floor. Why not? Exercise in the sauna is against the rules, but does it count as exercise if you aren’t moving?

But then she started talking. “Hello? Hello?? CAN YOU HEAR ME??!!!!” Oh dear, I have no cultural frame of reference for this. Only the voices of a thousand yoga teachers from my past saying “do not attempt the headstand if you are not absolutely sure that you can do it safely.” What if this woman was in trouble? What if she’d gone up and couldn’t come down? What if her neck was hurting? Maybe she thought that, with her voice all the way down there, and our ears all the way up here on various shelves, her cries for help were barely audible? What if, contrary to all common sense, it isn’t a good idea to stand on one’s head in a 200 degree room for a prolonged period of time?

I had nearly decided to answer her when she answered herself… “Hey, I’m in the sauna. Where are you? When do you want to leave?”

“Sacré Bluetooth!” was my fortunately non-verbal response (to paraphrase and mangle a French epithet). She was talking on her cordless cell phone earpiece. Where she’d stuck the rest of the apparatus I have no idea. Safe to say, she’s blown it for everyone else who might someday have a legitimate headstand emergency in the sauna!

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