Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pumping iron...and antibacterial fluid

I headed up to the health club this noontime for the first time since Jim the personal trainer walked me through the machines Monday, trying to understand my inept descriptions of the exercises I need to do and translate them to the available apparatus. He did a good job, and when I arrived today I was able to do the key back exercises I need, along with the ones I want for my jiggly belly and stick-like arms.

I’ve never worked out in a place like this before, even though they are ubiquitous. It’s a little overwhelming until you get on with your own sweaty grunting. Rank upon rank of cardio machines—treadmills, stair-steppers (is this the right term?), and weird machines that seem like the awkward spawn of the other two. There’s a whole room full of stationary bikes, a smaller room with free weights, a pool, an aerobics room, and a tanning room (I suppose this isn’t a bad idea in Minnesota, where people are as fair (and as sun-starved) as those red Englishman one finds on the Costa del Sol. There’s also a little teeny track that circles the weight machines (19 laps to the mile—no thanks).

One thing really threw me. A number of the ... what? ... patrons? workers-out? ... were carrying around squirt bottles (not water bottles, but the kind counter- and window-cleaners come in, with the little lever pump on the side). They’d walk up to a machine, squirt the seat and pads, wipe them down with a paper towel, and then carry on with their exercise. I’d never seen anything like this before. I assume they were trying to remove the sweat and other grunge the last person had left on the apparatus. Some of them wiped down the machines as they finished with them, too. This all seems rather prissy to me, but what do I know? Is it standard etiquette? Should I bring my own little bottle? Or should I just grunt and spit disdainfully while scratching myself?


Martha said...

The little squirt bottles help you from getting infections and skin diseases (ie MRSA). It's not fun stuff and it might take a little extra time but you never know what's lurking on those weight machines!

Mark Alvarez said...

Martha, is that you hanging off that rock? Where's the climb? Did you squirt your handholds?