I have a love hate relationship with LA Fitness. Aside from the obvious reasons why anyone would hate their gym (and I imagine that applies to The Sports Club La with its fabled dressing rooms filled with Hugh Hefner's girlfriends), having belonged to LA Fitness off and on since 1987, I have seen it morph and change and somehow stay the same while I, too, have morphed and changed and also stayed the same- well, now I'm fatter and older, but so is LA Fitness.
I signed up at the original Hollywood Boulevard location, and the two dudes who checked us in for the work out were straight out of an SNL skit:
Mr. My Pecks are Huge said "heyyyy, okaaaaaay....can I see you driver's license, please?" which sounded more like "would you like to see my penis?"
He took my sister's license while his co-worker, Mr. Hair Gel, took mine.They both gazed appreciatively at the respective pictures (we are talking about drivers license pictures, people, possibly the worst photographs ever taken of anyone) and handed them back, squinting seductively. Mr. My Pecks Are Huge nodded and murmured "five five...one twenty five..." as he handed my sister's back to her, perhaps attempting to seduce her with her own measurements? Mr. Hair Gel just grinned, appreciatively, I think, but his expression was so alarming that I'm not entirely sure. My sister and I took our frozen with embarrassment expressions and went to find the personal trainer counter. We avoided the locker room, just in case the two front desk dorks might have bored a Porky's style hole in the wall, because that is how bizarre it was. We signed up for the complimentary fitness test. A pudgy guy put me on the treadmill for ten minutes and took some measurements. Nothing creepy happened, but when he declared my fitness level to be elite, or "off the charts", I knew that this was not going to work out, literally. He needed to tell me that I was going to die if I didn't work out every day for the rest of my life. I was there for motivation, not to get a date or to be placated. I probably went to the gym six times in the three years I was a member.
Over the years, I joined other gyms-Bally's, Bodies in Motion- but nothing ever grabbed me and made me want to do it. My husband loves to tell the story about Bodies in Motion where I cried in the kickboxing class and ran out, never to return. Fuck that instructor for yelling in my face. It wasn't "Officer and a Gentleman" for god's sake. He is lucky I didn't make him the punching bag. I also walked out of the Wilshire LA Fitness once because the obese employee eating a Subway sandwich and a twenty four ounce soda right next to the treadmills asked me to put my minuscule backpack in a locker. It had three hundred dollars in cash inside- probably my rent- and I wasn't about to put it in a locker with a label on it that said "not responsible for articles stolen from locker". The whole thing was so weird- I mean, his sandwich was bigger than my backpack. The oniony fumes permeated the entire area. I should have asked him if there were health department rules about eating in such close proximity to sweating people. I stormed out (I'll take any excuse to skip a workout) and didn't go back to that location for a few years. He came after me, lettuce stuck to his face, saying "Come on, Ma'am...please? Just come back?". Uh, no fucking way?
Over the years, I've had spurts of interest in walking, running, hiking, yoga, Wii Fit, Zumba, the Barre Method(which left me practically paralyzed with pain for four days), Morning Bootcamp at 6am-I've tried everything but Pilates, which terrifies me. Motivation, where are you hiding out these days? Maybe if my husband was overtly disgusted at the sight of me, I'd find the right fitness routine, but that is not the case. Thanks, honey, for enabling my abject fitness laziness.
I STILL have a membership to LA Fitness. I go infrequently, as evidenced my my squishy belly and penchant for pie baking in my spare time. The last time I went was a few weeks ago, and it was actually kind of thrilling. As I sat in the waiting area, watching the oldest man in the world slowly use the thigh machine and trying to decide which boring exercise method I would drag ass through for the next forty five minutes, a well toned butt was suddenly right by my face. It was an employee, in spandex, and she was uncharacteristically taking the defibrillator off the wall and getting ready to use it on someone. I moved to the opposite seat so I could better view the developing scene. Normally, the employees are the most bored people on earth, and why wouldn't they be? Arguing with members about lapsed payments; validation issues; noisy, grunting, aggressive weight lifters; other gym rats behaving badly; sweaty, angry, slobby people. Ugh. However, in action-they were kind of impressive. A second girl rushed from the bathroom to the front desk. The manager was lackadaisically saying "If you can't resuscitate her, call 911, okay?" but he might has well have been saying "get me the tuna fish, but make sure they put the mayo on the side, okay?", but maybe he was just "remaining calm".
Both girls rushed to the bathroom, and after a brief angel/devil conversation with myself, I followed. Just around the first doorway, a gaggle of towel clad women were gathered around a fully nude woman, probably seventy, and about the size of my eight year old. She was emaciated and faint, her head bobbing here and there as various women asked her questions and kept her listing body upright on the changing bench. One of the front desk girls was on the phone with 911, explaining, passing on information that came from the gaggle as it developed. I watched the scene for a few minutes, but it never really unfolded-she had some sort of medication she forgot to take. Getting old is so much fun. I finally went to the treadmills with an old New York Times magazine. The fire department arrived and took her out on a stretcher a few minutes later.
I haven't been back since. My neck hurts all the time, running down the beach with a kite renders me limping for days, my knees hurt going up stairs(it's pathetic), and the very thought of putting on a bathing suit scares me more than all of Eli Roth's gory movies put together. Well, things are about to change. While the endorphin rush will be nice, I'm not trying to be Mrs. America or get all crazy with my appearance- I just want to not ache all the time. I want to be able to hold any grandchildren or nieces and nephews that might come my way without getting a week long crick in my neck. I want to shave my legs in the shower without getting a charley horse. I want to go to Machu Picchu and Nepal and the Grand Canyon and not be the straggler who can't make it off the tour bus. You get the idea. I have to start now because it will take FOREVER, but I've got no choice.
Thanks to Groupon, I have signed up for a ladies only bootcamp, beginning next week, which starts at a delightful, manageable 9AM and sounds kind of, well...fun? My husband has predicted that I will have my flabbalicious ass handed to me Day One, but I am feeling optimistic. I have my friend, One Fit Mother, to thank for the ongoing encouraging FB posts and the evidence that change is possible; my friend Rachel, who is an ongoing inspiration, and I have my own mother, who is in amazing shape at sixty seven years old, to thank for good genes that I have been so shamefully wasting.
This is my version of putting a "before" picture on the fridge, as a reminder of exactly what needs to change, so feel free to inquire when you see me next, or better yet, sign up and join me while it lasts or go to their website