Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
Does anybody out there shower at the gym? Am I the only one who notices the mold on the ceiling of the shower area? Is anyone else grossed out by this? Does anyone ever complain to the management? Am I spending too much time observing the surroundings of the shower area?
Ever since I started working out at a gym/health club, I have always used the shower facilities. Because of my anal-rentative personality, I feel that i need to clean myself up after sweating up a storm teaching or taking class. There have been times that I have taken a shower after only teaching a Body Sculpt class. Some of you will probably think that it is some symbolic gesture about washing off the evil aura of the people who take class. But I digress...
Today, after lifting and taking a step class, I had no choice but to get cleaned up at the gym and head straight to work. I entered a shower stall, pulled the curtain, and looked up at a corner of the stall and saw some kind of mold growing out of the bolt. Anyway, I noticed because it was big enough that it looked like a wasp's nest hanging from the bolt AND because it was not the first time I had seen this same "growth" in this shower stall.
As I continued to gaze at the "growth", my eyes began to look up at the ceiling. This is when I decided to shower and just get out of that stall. The ceiling was covered with mold spots that would make any cheetah jealous. It kinda looked like some kind of alien life form was taking over the shower stalls at West 94th Street NYSC.
I wonder if the management at all sees this problem? I wonder if this is a health code violation? I wonder why I just don't come home to take a shower? Later.
Every time I hear about some new "thing" that is going to make people lose weight or gain muscle or get in shape, I cringe. I cringe because most reports or articles tend to make the new "thing" sound like the answer to all the health woes of this country.
One day it's weight training, the next day it's aerobics. The week after that aerobics is bad for you; do yoga instead because it's better. Then instead of regular yoga, do hot yoga. But tomorrow, forget hot yoga because Pilates is the answer. But don't forget that boot camp is what is really going to get you in shape. Does anybody ever mention that it really does not matter what exercise you do as long as you do it?
During all this pumping and pulling, eat as much protein that you can possibly ingest. But only eat your protein if you also eat a fat and not with a carb. And only eat complex carbs... or is it simiple carbs? Or am I supposed to be carb-free? Maybe you're supposed to eat all the protein and greens that you can ingest as long as you have no sugar, caffeine, or fat. Of course, all these nutrition fads allow you to eat as much as you want; at no time does anyone talk about portion control. They always talk about being able to eat all you want; which may cause you to throw up if your kidney does not fail first. Later.
I was working out today when I noticed that a young man seemed to be following me around the gym. As I began my rotator cuff exercises, I noticed that someone was trying to squeeze in between the machine I was using and the mirror it was next to. I also noticed that this person would have easily made it to where he was going if he just went the other way which was much less cramped and equally as fast. I also noticed that he was quite a bit of a cutie.
Anyway... He had squeezed by and smiled which I kinda returned with a dorky grin. Now remember that I am in the middle of an exercise; I am not really in the best position for interaction. He then walked around a pillar and headed the opposite way toward the drinking fountain. The machine I was using had a shiny plastic panel which showed the reflection of the guy checking my butt out.
So... After getting a drink of matter, he walked back toward the machine I was using and just stood there pretending to watch the video monitor (which happened to be playing Lucky, by Britney). I turned around because he was so close to me, it felt like he was about to invade my private space. We made eye contact again, he smiled, I know I kinda had this horrified look on my face.
Since I had finished my exercises at aforementioned machine, I headed for a different one, only to find him stretching next to it after I had set it up. I purposefully avoided anymore eye contact. He finally finished his stretches, headed to the lockerroom to get his stuff, and left the gym. On his way out, he nodded at me which I politely returned with a nod myself.
Is this how people flirt at the gym? I've been an instructor for so long that I may have forgotten the art of gym flirting. Plus I have been with the same wonderful guy for a while that it has made me oblivious to the possibility of meeting someone at the gym. This is strange since I actually met my partner at the gym in my class. And why is the cute man at the gym trying to make contact with me? I must be in a twilight zone. Later.
Well, it's done... I have finally wittled down my teaching schedule to 3 classes a week. The scary part is that even with just three classes, I still find material for this blog. Anyway, I gave up a couple of classes that, apparently, I was known for. As long as I have been teaching and as much as I realize that I have some sort of following, it still blows my mind that people plan their workout schedule around me.
I first started teaching group exercise classes because it was something I knew I could do plus was something I really wanted to do. It was not about the adulation or the money or the free gym membership. I was drawn to teaching these classes because, for the first time in my life, I was taking control of my life. I was doing something that no authority figure had advised me to do.
I had moved to New York City to work for the electrical utility, Con Ed, as an Electrical Engineer. I stayed for 23 months but finally decided that my life was more than climbing down into transformer vaults, installing sulfur hexaflouride circuit breakers, and babysitting union technicians. I had left Con Ed without looking for another technical job. What I did was acquire a job at the front desk of my health club. Despite going from a $32K salary to a $6.50/hour, I was happy that I was taking control of my life. I was in charge of my future.
So, after stints in various part of club management, I started to teach group exercise full-time thanks to my best friend, Kelsie. I was just happy to be in front of the class teaching fitness; I did not care if one person or 100 people showed up. I was just happy to teach. To this day, I am happy if 3 people show up for class. I am equally as happy if 300 people show up. Teaching has always been something that has made me happy. To see the faces of these people after they have "worked out" has always brought me satisfaction. I still remember what it is like to get a great workout - the endorphins, the feeling of accomplishment, and the knowledge that you are doing something good for yourself.
With all that said, I still am blown away by the fact that people actually show up for my class on a regular basis; this my friends is just the icing on the cake. It is enough that I am doing something that I like to do but also to get paid for doing it?!?!?! For someone to think that what I have to say matters is just unbelievable. So, a big "Thanks" goes out to the people who allow me a say in their workout; thanks for being able to let someone help you improve your health. The next time you get a great workout from your group exercise instructor, go up to them and thank them for taking the time to teach. It definitely will brigthen up their day.
One of the most irritating things about being an group exercise instructor is the fact that, if you ever build a following (which you will want to in the beginning), you eventually become a prisoner and slave of it. It is nice to have a bunch of people who continually attend your class with such adoration and fervor. Unfortunately, this adulation eventually becomes obsession. Which leads to you being treated as an object eventually leading to your hatred for the followers you desired in the first place.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I would tell my class that I will not be teaching next week only to be greeted with heavy sighs and queries as to what could possibly be the reason for me not being there. In the beginning you become apologetic for not being able to be there for them. I am sure part of it is the ego boost we all get from a group of persons wanting to be in our realm. It can be intoxicating to have some relative stranger profess how your absence will create a rift in their status quo.
As you continue to teach, you become resentful for having to explain why you are taking that specific day off from teaching. The burden of trying to find an excuse for or even explain your absence becomes overwhelming forcing you to think evil thoughts of your groupies. Eventually, you grow to hate your following because of their lack of consideration for you as a human being. You wonder why these people cannot see that you too have to take some time off and that you do not owe them anything except the responsibility of finding someone to teach your class.
As I near the end of my teaching career, I realize that I no longer explain to my regulars why I am going to be absent from teaching that class next week. The "regulars" that do understand me accept my announcement and go on their way. The regulars who cannot see me beyond being a group exericse instructor tend to ask for an explanation to why I will not be teaching next week. My answer has now become, "Because I need time away from here." It doesn't really tell them what I am doing (which is really none of their business), it shows them that they are not in charge of my actions, and it also kinda alludes to the fact that their neediness may be a factor in my absence.
So, if you ever get irritated that your favorite instructor is not teaching for a couple of days, just remember that 1) it is really none of your business as to why they aren't going to teach, 2) they have the right to not-teach the class, 3) and just like you, your favorite instructor is a human being who needs time away from their daily routine. Later.
I got to thinking about the choices we make as human beings when it comes to our weight. This is going to sound like a callous blanket statement (and it probably is): the reason most of America is overweight is because they are greedy and lazy. Okay, there, I said it.
I was watching the weight loss special with Dr. Phil & Katie Couric and noticed that neither of them ever suggested that any of the overweight guests cut down on the amount of food they intake and increase their physical activity. A lot was said about dealing with the emotions within and coming to terms with who you are. Okay, okay, so I am not Madonna but I still like to eat donuts (just the originals from Krispy Kreme).
As much as I do believe that dealing with your psychological health will help you deal with your physical health, I do not believe that the answer to obesity is healing from within. The answer is portion-control and exercise. In addition, if you happen to want to supersize your fries (which I do!), you must accept the consequences and get some extra exercise time in. The biggest problem with "healing from within to change your appearance" is that when one hits another emotional bump, they revert to that person who uses Little Debbie snack cakes as their therapy. (Don't they know that alcohol is so much better for that?)
If you learn to adjust your food intake and increase your caloric output, which are much more controlable than your emotions, when you do hit that emotional down, you will be able to make choices that won't "tip the scale" in a not-so-positive way. I speak from experience when I say that no matter how many ups and downs I have had, I have been able to maintain a weight that I consider healthy for the past 15 years. All this due to the fact that I understand that what I take in, I must also be able to burn if I want to maintain a healthy weight.
So, when that cute boy at the bookstore turns you down for a date OR you don't get your dream job, go ahead and feel miserable, just remember that have a cookie or eight and get your ass to my step class. Later.
What does it mean when you are so apathetic to gym members that you could give a shit whether they are offended by what you say or ambivalent to what you ask them to do? What it means is that it is time to move on.
After a couple of confrontations at the gym, I have decided I need to move on from teaching too many classes. Specifically, I need to move on from working on the Upper West Side. I have not met a meaner bunch of people than on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. They certainly are the most awful people to be around for the mere fact that they have a huge sense of self-entitlement PLUS absolutely no sense of self-worth. It's like dealing with a bunch of belligerent lemmings.
Last Saturday, after a truly disheartening class, I got to thinking if I was the only person who felt this way about the Upper West Side. Thankfully, I was not. A lot of instructors I know will not teach in Upper Manhattan. When asked why, the responses were all eeriely similar: "The people who go to the gym on the UWS think that they own the gym because they have bought a membership to it." Some of you are probably thinking that this is true BUT it is not.
Whey you buy a membership to the gym, it does not give you the right to treat the staff like a bunch of slaves. Last I checked, slavery was outlawed a long time ago. A membership to the gym also does not give you the right to work out anywhere in the gym whenever you please. I still wonder why members think that they can enter a classroom and do their own workout while there is a class in progress. Everywhere else that I know of assumes that if you enter a classroom while there is a class in progress, YOU will be participating in the class. Apparently, the Upper West Side did not get the memo on this common courtesy.
The truth of the matter is that most of the people who live on the UWS are a bunch of whiny, needy assholes who think they know more than they really do. I myself live on the UWS and if it were not for the fact that my partner & I live together and that I am totally & utterly in love with him, I would move the fuck out right after I kill a few of the cunts who populate this god-forsaken hell hole. Later.
Did anyone notice that a segment of last night's Queer Eye for the Staight Guy was filmed at a New York Sports Club? Specifically, it was filmed at the NYSC on 44th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues. I used to teach classes at that location. I don't miss it.
I do have to wonder why the trainer they consulted with was dressed like a bartender at a gay bar. I know that NYSC does not allow their trainers to dress like that. As a matter of fact, none of the health clubs, that I know of, allow their trainers to dress like that. Furthermore, any professional fitness trainer would not dress like that to train a client. Oh, except the ones that moonlight as escorts. Later.