When I joined the natatorium last Saturday, the woman who took my "he looks like an inmate at a federal minimum security prison" membership ID photo told me, mildly ominously, "you have to go upstairs to make an appointment". I dutifully did so, where a fellow signed me up for an appointment for 6 this evening. I usually don't get home as early as that, but I left work early and went back to the natatorium upper room for my appointment. Upstairs at the natatorium they have a collection of cycles, stair-masters, volcano-masters, endless bike treks, feet-go-in-weird-arc-masters, nuclear-explosion-masters, and weights.
My personal guide was Rocky. I liked Rocky. I grew up with aging, athletic men with names like Rocky, Stony, and Dub (rather like the fellows in the Wizard of Oz, in a way), who coached junior high football ("you don't really want to hit 'im!", they'd say to me disparagingly and disapprovingly, but also accurately) and taught me what little civics I know. Rocky was a bit older than I am, and teaches PE to elementary school kids when he is not The Man Upstairs.
He really helped me, and we talked about how it was his high jump and pole vault days which ruined his knees. A hint, by the way, to those who are incapable of finding a common interest with jock guys of a certain age--you can always talk about the reason why the knee was blown out, as knee injuries, like pictures in the old Faces song, tell a story, don't they? It's a bit like relationships, too--everyone of a certain age has blown one or both out, or they are simply not in the sports game.
It turned out I was there not for some mystic rite, but to be shown how to sign into the rather Big Brotheresque weight machines. It turns out they track one's individual performance, and even print out goals and the meaning of life. One logs in one's number (although, frankly, "I am not a number") and the screen tells one how to set one's chair and how many to do. One can even get points, although unlike eBay, 15,000 points does not earn one a shooting star.
The whole thing was so absurd it appealed to me instantly, so I may overcome my native resistance to weight lifting, inculcated with care through years of football off-seasons in grades 7, 8 and 9, and actually use this symphonie fantastique mecanica (or what have you). I want, after all, for some machine to know my feeble exercise routine by heart.
Rocky spent an hour showing me how to improve muscles I had no real idea I had, although he could not convince me that anyone really uses the stair-step machine for any reason other than personal neurosis.
Once Rocky assured me I was properly logged in and being monitored(and we are still, by the way, at war with Eastasia), I switched to swim trunks for 25 minutes swimming in the Lazy River. I made myself a pact last week to get much more exercise, and so far I am keeping my pact. Tomorrow I go to Los Angeles for a court hearing on Friday, but I hope I can still get exercise in. Similarly, my Tuesday/Wednesday Phoenix trip is planned to include at least one stop by South Mountain Park, if possible.
I've gotten a lot of work done this week, which is good, because I have much to do. But right now I'd rather think of how warm the spa pool felt tonight, when the exercise was done.