confessions of a cheater.
I cheated on my gym yesterday. I cheated with a brighter, more up-to-date gym. One with longer hours and more treadmills and color-coded weight machines and cleaner locker rooms. One with louder music and flirty associate managers. And I’m not sure how I feel about it.
I wasn’t the only one cheating. I thought I would be. I mean, how many other people would look for something better? But there he stood — a traitor on the elliptical machine — all sweaty and tired and out of place. As our eyes met, shame overtook us, and our indignity fled to our cheeks, which flushed with guilt. What would our older, more family-friendly gym think if it saw us like this? Would it think we wanted something newer? Maybe it would begin to analyze the number of treadmills it offers, and how its floors aren’t always the cleanest. It might realize that its hours don’t fit into every schedule and that it should be sharper and sexier and slicker and that maybe, it should feel more like a mall. More like a franchise. It probably would hate itself for its inadequacy. And God forbid it would start to buy into the Wal-mart philosophy of life. It would probably want to kill itself and its independence. It may see no future in its self-proprietary ways, in its one spin class, in the additional cost of classes, in making members commit for a year at a time. After all, a year is like a lifetime in a noncommittal world.
The slicker gym understands the human psyche. It doesn’t have a contract or a line in which to wait to get on a treadmill. It doesn’t have a 30-minute time limit on cardio equipment because there is more than enough. But it also doesn’t have an 80-year-old man who walks around the track, lugging his oxygen tank behind him — breathing each breath with gusto. It doesn’t have the Downs Syndrome kids that work out because it’s fun, not because they want to be thinner and fitter and more productive. It doesn’t have the older woman at the front desk who asks me every day how my foot is and talks to me about eating organic and racing and how she thinks I should go on a cross-country bike tour because, after all, I’m a writer and can do that from anywhere.
The sexier gym just doesn’t feel like home.