Stet by Ria Bacon

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Of all the gym joints (part 2)

While you're reading ...

Shortly after arriving in the Netherlands, I signed up at the local gym, determined to get my ass in shape for this year's Bubbling Championships in Jamaica.

By a double coincidental quirk, the first time I went, I found that my "personal trainer" had the same name as the one in Rome, and, to my horror, they were playing the same song as in Abidjan (read Of all the gym joints [part 1]).

I always take my mp3 player now.

My co-sweaters are very different from previous experiences. I usually go straight after dropping the kids off at school, so perhaps that's why there are no people of working age at the gym. Seniors hobble between the machines leaning on Zimmer frames, the men still wearing their Sunday best clothes - the only concession to sportiness is that they take off their tie. They treat the gym like a social club, gossiping about their children and the state of the world. It's better than hanging around the post office waiting for a chat.

Sometimes I think I must be in the injury hour special, as the gym fills with wheelchairs and crutches. Yesterday there was a guy with both arms amputated just below the elbow and a huge skin graft scar on his leg. He had some trouble shifting the pin in one of the machines, so I leaned over and asked if it was OK.

"Fine!", he replied cheerfully. "It's just a bit unhandy (onhandig)."