Archive for April, 2007

Tales From the Gym - Alis is Back

Thank “Lou” and the FROBSS, Alis is back! They said she was gone on vacation but the last time I saw her she was standing near the sauna, and you know what can happen in there… Needless to say, I was delighted to see that she’d made it back from “vacation” or wherever.

Alis is the gatekeeper in the women’s locker room. She distributes citrus fruit and ginger to her charges, sings Deep Purple and Jimmy Hendrix songs to mask the soulless pop coming from the sound-system, tells the ladies who are trying to change clothes without ever being naked that they’re looking good today, and yells a mega-watt “I love you!” to anyone trying to maintain aural anonymity by wearing headphones.

Alis talks to everyone, but makes a special point, I think, to draw out the ones who would rather go stand in traffic than make public pronouncements about their emotional states.
But Alis has mastered the art of the verbal interrogatory boomerang. When she talks to you, you are compelled to respond – it’s as if her questions crawl down your throat, shop around for their desired response, then drag it back out into the world – much to the surprise of your unwitting vocal cords. Alis gets everyone talking whether they like it or not; and that is why we have her to thank for our locker room community. When she goes on “vacation” the locker room is a sad, sad place. When she comes back, we can’t stop saying “I love you too, Alis!!”

Add comment April 30th, 2007

Tales from the Gym – Why Fight Gravity?

Tonight a lovely woman in her ‘60’s or ‘70’s came into the sauna. She shook out her plastic bags, laid them down and reclined upon them. The only strange thing was… instead of choosing any of the five shelves placed at various heights, she went straight for the floor. Right in front of the door. Truth be told, if it wasn’t a Saturday night, she might have risked being trampled to death because the body of a prone woman is not what you expect to find under your feet as you enter the dimly lit and perpetually shadowy sauna.

I was immediately intrigued by her motives. It could be the case that she prefers a lesser degree of heat than that provided by any of the shelves. Since heat rises, the floor of the sauna would be the most temperate zone… if “temperate” can be applied to a climate that hovers around 200 degrees and 0% humidity.

Or it could be the case that she knows something about gravity that the rest of us have yet to figure out. She was in strikingly good shape, and I couldn’t help but think of all the anti-ageing propaganda circulating in the popular media. Maybe defying gravity is old news; maybe the ageing-savvy go with the forces of nature instead of fighting them. Maybe we’d all age more slowly if we stayed as close to the earth as possible, instead of increasing gravitational stress on our bodies by choosing the top shelf in the sauna.

Add comment April 27th, 2007

Tales from the Gym – the Politics of Space

A happy, giggling group of stark-naked ladies came into the sauna bearing fruit and reading materials, thus breaking three of the “Thou Shalt Nots” posted on the sauna door. Alarmingly, though I was the lone person in an otherwise empty sauna, one of the ladies eyed a spot right next to me on the top shelf, climbed up, and settled in – less than six inches away! Now, I’m not only American, I’m Midwestern by birth and West Coast by choice – I feel right at home when VAST EXPANSES OF LAND are given over to me and my need for personal space. Clearly I have a bias. Still… less than six inches in an otherwise empty room? But, here’s the thing… as she was picking her way up to the top shelf she caught my eye, smiled, and shrugged as if to say “look at what we have to put up with to get the good spots”. And so, to my surprise, I found that I didn’t mind sharing the best spot at all. I guess my personal space requirements depend largely on the attitudes of those with whom I share.

Add comment April 26th, 2007

Tales from the Gym – The Society of Random Picnickers Goes Feral

Spotted on the floor of the locker-room foyer this evening: several shreds of partially chewed lettuce. There were no picnickers in sight, but the evidence was unmistakable. Corollary data: in a rare departure from the normal soul-less pop, the gym sound system was playing Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”.


I think the picnickers got tired of eating citrus, mushrooms, and ginger, so they lured a faun into the gym with a trail of lettuce leaves, then roasted him over the coals in the sauna.

I know it’s all circumstantial evidence at this point, but everyone in the sauna looked unusually pleased with themselves this evening…

Add comment April 25th, 2007

Poesie Quotidienne – Characters II

West Hollywood – an extremely well-muscled girl in a French maid’s outfit stepping out at sunset, sporting airbrushed make-up and airbrushed calf-muscles.

Venice I – a robust gentleman with three heavy gold chains nestled in his chest hair, wearing a nothing but a black leather Speedo, white trainers, and a great deal of body oil, leaving his Muscle Beach workout.

Add comment April 25th, 2007

Running a ½ Marathon – an Optimists Guide for the Impatient and Ill-Prepared V

Need more of a challenge? I recommend signing up for an intensive six-day yoga and meditation retreat that will overlap with the first and second weeks of mini-marathon training. Not only will the retreat leave you with no time whatsoever to run, it will also empty you of all competitive desire. You will long only to sit and stare at walls, smiling vaguely.

Actually… I went for my second long run yesterday – another eight mile course. And, it was the easiest run I’ve ever done! Seriously – there were no crazy runner’s endorphins involved, just a really pleasant pace from the first step to the last. I’d forgotten how good it feels when you don’t have to think about running anymore. It’s like your legs, lungs and heart take care of themselves and your mind just wanders… off… wherever… It felt so good, I tacked on an extra ninth mile at the end, just for fun.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that about an hour and a half after my run I started feeling a bit wonky – had to sit down and couldn’t eat for the rest of the day. But two hours and an incredibly cheesy movie later, I felt good again and have no soreness to report today.

Was it taking a three day break from training? Or was it all the yoga and meditation? Hmmmm…
Or maybe Ooommmm….

Add comment April 24th, 2007

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