Thursday, November 17, 2005

Quitter Wins

I always thought people joined gyms to get in shape. How painfully wrong I was, how naïve. Now, after my free trial week at New York Sports Club, after sampling the various classes offered—from spinning, to boxing, to cardio-kickboxing to some yoga-based exercise involving giant rubber bands, hand weights and pure evil—I can say with some authority that only people who could right now if you asked them run the Boston Marathon, belong to gyms. And this is just NYSC, the basic cable of national fitness franchises. I’m sure if I had the money to join a gym like Equinox or Clay, where the towels are refrigerated and mint-scented, I’d probably have to pass some kind of fitness test, kind of like the Presidential Fitness Test in grade school, except this one would involve BASE jumping and heli-skiing.

Look, I’m no stranger to fitness—I used to be a lifeguard, and a strong forward! And the anonymous nomination to make me dorm “health rep” in college couldn't have been completely ironical. Right? But after three measly NYSC classes in one week, I am hobbling around my office, positive that my hamstrings are about to snap. The arches of my feet feel as though I’ve just run the aforementioned marathon in stiletto heels and I can’t lift my arms above my shoulders. Can’t even feel my shoulders. But I must persevere. Apparently two years of Bikram yoga, combined with a decade-long appetite for cigarettes and booze has not kept me in top form as expected. I hope there’s someone I can sue when I need to get reconstructive surgery for both legs since all this aerobicizing is surely destroying every tissue and nerve-ending in them. At least, that’s what it feels like.

Probably, I’ll end up joining Crunch, which is one of the cheapest franchises in NYC, and seems at first to be the coolest. Their motto is “no judgment” and in their literature they talk about cigarette smoking, not in a The Truth kind of way, but more like “Crunch: our personal trainers will bum Marlboro Ultra Lights from you at Orchard Bar on the weekends.” Great, you think. A gym for lazy slobs like myself, a thin-fat person on her way to becoming fat-fat. And inexpensive! And then you actually visit a Crunch gym and realize that every single person who goes there is 6’1” and weighs 135 lbs. And then you visit the Crunch website and see that they have a personals section with over 1800 entries. A sample:

"You’re wearing dark seem a little angry so you dress bohemia might be wearing glasses and your hair is clean but not well's time for a manicure pedicure eye brow're bored out of your mind so you're in sneakers...."

It's a Franz Ferdinand video! It’s Missed Connections for the healthy crowd! Trust me, whether this person is gay or straight, guy or girl, I guarantee you s/he is 6’1” and 135 lbs. Guarantee. Clearly the world of urban gymnasiums is confounding and, at times, even frightening.

When I worked downtown I had my New York Parks & Recreation pass. For $75 a year I had access to all NY rec centers, which sometimes have pools. They were dirty, and smelly, and small and dank, just as gyms should be. The patrons wore enormous t-shirts and torn sweatpants. We were fat and old and red-faced and no one cared. For awhile, a midget with a limp and a facial tic was my Stairmaster buddy. His name was Danny and he lived in Queens and would ask me out once in awhile. “I have a good job, you know,” he would say, “I have insurance.” It was my kind of gym—dirt cheap and full of freaks.

But now I’m in midtown. The nearest NY rec center is far enough away, I know I’ll never go when it gets cold. So I’m stuck with NYSC and Crunch, or a place called Synergy Fitness. Synergy, if you’ll recall, was the computer that turned Jem and her pals into rock 'n' roll holograms in the hit cartoon series Jem and the Holograms. I wonder whatever happened to holograms and how come nobody talks about them anymore? Remember that one National Geographic with the hologram of the bald eagle on the cover? That was awesome.

But why all the gym-hopping, suddenly? The answer to your pretend question, Dear Pretend Reader, is that I’ve decided to quit smoking as a gift to my mother for her birthday on December 1. I’m far too broke to buy her a real gift, and not smoking will actually save me money, and allow her to rest a tad easier at night. Everyone wins! And if I’m going to be a horrible bitch for however long it takes me to get these toxins out of my system, I may as well not become a puffy, enfattened bitch. Thus, the gym taste-tests.

I hesitate to mention my intention to quit smoking here, because I feel like it commits me to actually quitting or something. Like for real. It's weird--I’ve smoked regularly for 10 years now. 10 years! But it hasn’t looked really cool for almost 2 and plus I have a new job and my rent’s gone up and my apartment is finally clean and not-smelly, so it seems as good a time as any to stop smoking.

My friends’ wedding is on Saturday. I’m going out drinking tonight with a couple of work buddies to practice the fine art of Drinking Without Smoking. I’ll let you know how it goes. I'm sticking with red wine. Red wine somehow fills the nicotine void better than other alcohols, which tend to enlarge it. Chocolate also fills the void. So does sex with strangers and cutting.


Blogger The Count Del Monte said...

Susan, so glad to have another entry. I realize this may sound strange coming from a heterosexual male, but I totally remember Jem and the Holograms. Jem, Jem, is truly outrageous, truly truly truly outrageous. Jem. I think her dad gave her Synergy before he died in some unexpected and horrifically tragic manner. Do you have any Rainbow Brite dolls? Me neither. I also remember the hologram of the bald eagle. How weird. I think I saved it or something. Anyway . . . good luck with the Great Susan Smoke Out. Should keep me riveted to my computer.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Screwsan said...

I totally saved the NG bald eagle issue too. What's with Rainbow Brite lately? Is she having a comeback? Because the most popular hot girl costume this Halloween, at least in my neck of the urban sprawl, was sexy Rainbow Brite! Yep with the rainbow knee socks and the short, slutty skirt and the boobs falling out the top...not the RB I remember. Very disturbing.

I'm sure you were a watcher of Jem. Now she was hot. As were the Holograms and the Misfits. Hot hot hot punk rock chicks. That's not gay, Hansel, that's prescient.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Tim said...


Crunch is a good gym, Meg is a member at the one here in lincoln park and she has lots of gym crushes and meets lots of people there, male and female, although I suspect your theory holds true here too: everything there is ridiculously in-shape and looks fantastic whilst sweating.

On the upside, they offer such classes as "Cardio Strip-Tease" and other fun combination vice-exercise. Maybe they can do some sort of StairMaster Beer Chug for me or something.

Also, Jem and the Holograms sucked and are only for girls or ambiguously gay international male supermodels (cough, cough, see comment #1), but the most revolutionary hologram ever was when Michael Jordan was named Sportsman of the Year by SI and they put an ACTUAL HOLOGRAM OF HIM ON EVERY COVER OF THE MAGAZINE and it blew everyone's mind. I miss the 90's.

Good luck on the Smoke-Out. You'll probably be crabby all the time, so focus on either positive thoughts or getting some kind of mood-altering prescription drug, whichever is easier.

1:31 PM  

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