my ymca

as a person who loves to eat, i do understand the dire importance of ‘moving.’  well, because we are animals, moving should be the integral part of our lives- however, the motivation for comfort often sabotages the lifestyle we require (to be functional), it often becomes a huge chore- to live the way that we are built to live.  for instance, i hate going to the gym in the evening; all i want to do once the sun is down is to borrow into a hole called home and do not much. Im not a big partier nor i ever enjoyed things like pub crawl or club hopping.  gimme a good bowl of food and a book/internet, im a happy bunny, albeit a fat one.

so, instead of eating less and moving more (which would be greatly beneficial for the world), i tend to eat more and move a bit.  once in awhile, after holidays, especially, i get on the scale and get motivated to: move more.  never-ever i try to eat less, haha. some things are just too enjoyable, i suppose. 

today is fairly clear day for monkey; though i have stuff to do, they aren’t exactly time sensitive, so i have decided that i will go to the gym and do laundry.  i go to a very particular place for workout- metro ymca, downtown toronto.  it is a very curious mix here at the y. from low-income housing families to sassy single professionals making the big bucks, young itty bitty children who run towards your kneecaps as if they are some sort of skud missiles to seniors with great motivations.  now, the interesting thing is that there are two kinds of memberships at the y.  one is the normal membership: based on your income and expenditure, one is placed on sliding scale of fees, which makes a great sense.  and another is the membership plus, so they are called.  one pays more (i assume this difference fuels the subsidized memberships, along with government grants and such, which i support) for some luxury: basic things for the shower- razors, shaving form, cotton tips, basic shampoo/conditioner/soap, dry and wet sauna and a whirl pool.  and most importantly, towel service (on this, later).

i often go during the daytime, anywhere from 8am to 3pm.  the place is run amok with people from 3 on, till about 8 or 9.  but here’s the funny thing:  because i subscribe to membership plus, i always run into very particular types of people.  there are a few freelancers and non-daytime workers.  but most of them are retired affluent ladies in my membership plus area (the area has a womens-only workout area, which i often use, since it’s less crowded) and i cant help but to observe them while i am there.  and sometimes i wonder how differently they see the world- i bet they also wonder how i see the world. i don’t mean to eavesdrop into conversations, but when they are talking across the change room, i think it’s quite hard to avoid.

some things that happens/talked about in this room is quite baffling, honestly.  the other day, the bunch of ladies were complaining about instability of their pension.  mind you, the way they dress and act clearly disqualifies them from being even at the economical average of the city.  and i couldn’t help to think that it’s them who are driving the pension system to instability (by working over the retirement age).  i have nothing against working. i just think if they don’t let the younger people into works (by either turning part time or retiring), of course the pool is going to collapse.  i suppose there are greater things i must not be understanding in this equation, because year after year, it’s the same complaint from same socio-economical group. 

and then there's the television. yep. I am one of those people who watch ‘real housewives of whatever city’ and the likes while i turn my wheel. it’s oddly fascinating; rather than experiencing another case of schadenfreuden, i am often genuinely surprised about the lives and views of other people.  especially when they are so perfectly crystallized for certain roles.  however, while watching these, i am often ‘scorned’ by these ladies.  they would come in, ask loudly:

who is watching this?

then comes no answer (im not going to put my hand up!), then they grab the remote and promptly turn to: talk shows (oprah, the view, dr. oz, dr. phil: the shows that i deem as equally trashy), soap operas, food channel or the cbc news, accompanied by a comment:

can’t believe the stuff that’s on television now days.

one of these days, i think i will work on my courage and do answer one of these cases: i am watching it! and ya, before you call me uneducated common denominator, do address me as a doctor! when that happens, i will let you guys know, ha. not to mention they are the same group of ladies who reads cosmopolitan and other dumb magazines.  tis fine to like cheap culture. just no need to tell me your cheap culture is more expensive than mine...

Being surrounded by affluent ladies who can afford to spend time at the gym, another thing that often comes up is the ‘green’ issues.  they cluck their tongues and point fingers that ymca (and rest of the world) needs better recycling and use of non-plastic utensils, blah blah. the list goes on.  i think it’s a good thing to be aware of the issues. what is interesting is that they have no problem using as many towels as they can.  i understand that warm, clean, fluffy towels are one of the best things in the world.  and because one should take towel to sit on in saunas and steam room, i think using two towels are understandable (as it is quite unpleasant and character-building to dry yourself with towel you just sat on in wet steam room). but some of these ladies use up to six: one on head, one on body, one to stand on.  then when they are done with steam room/sauna, comes another set of three, hence six.  

i wonder if they remember how much energy it takes to wash/dry towels.  if they were sent to the laundry places with soap and washboard, they would never do that- i dont think. i am thinking about writing to the y to put up a small reminder to put up the actual cost of each towel for washing/drying.  but with such econo class, i bet they’ll think because of the fee difference, it should not matter.  anyways, i think it’s bit batty to talk of saving a plastic spoon when one is using six towels a day, couple times a week.

another thing that irks me are ladies who are selectively illiterate or partially blind.  see, the space is supposed to be scent-free. like all politically correct places.  they even supply non-scented body lotion and hairspray and such. but often ladies will take heavily scented lotion into the dry sauna, apply generously and lies down to soak up. lotions are mainly fat and scents.  sauna is warm.  all i can foresee is the happy well-fed and gloriously scented bacteria colonies.  shudder. it's written in english but... i think perhaps expensive lotions do massive damage to the brain- i suppose at least they are moisturized.

the list goes on and on.  i probably have too much time. but the best was the king of the slow lane, today.  ive been swimming against my own preference as my knee is being somewhat vocal since slipping around queen's park.  so at the y, they have a nicely adjusted big pool with swim lanes.  the chlorine doesnt burn my skin so badly so i thought: why  not. so it's been a few weeks that ive been dipping my feet into water.   

there are three lanes open, along with free lane(s) and open pool area: slow- intermediate- fast speed.  i exclusively do slow. im not too interested in burning calories- i am more interested in loosening my back/shoulder.  and i cant swim fast anyways. so here i am, stuck at the slow lane.  i swim proudly with grannies and grandads.  and then came this young man in speedo today.  i was having the entire lane to self, which was awesome. yay. but it's not my own place! it's fine to share. so i thought it be all alright. except he was the michael phelps of the slow lane.  with his amazing backstroke, he almost punched me in the face (by swimming right in the centre and not paying attention). with his graceful front crawl, he kindly scraped my legs with his nails, approaching from the back.  he was happy to make noise and pass by me and be the big kahuna tuna in the lane.

it's marked: slow.

i looked around and i saw the other lanes were almost empty. i wondered why he's stuck in the slow lane. i wondered why is this man beating me up with his intensive swimming workout.  i wondered if there's any sense to try to read to him: 's-l-o-w-l-a-n-e.'  but i suppose he was too busy, i mean he was furious.  all workout, all intensity.  

it is making me laugh the whole day. this king of slow lane.  i like my gym.  it incorporates less-privileged members, raises money, it's got some sense of community.  those blue haired ladies, as senile they can be, are all well-meaning (or i have to at least hope so) and do care about the community. and the king of the slow lane- well, at least he'll be fit, though the fact he cannot comprehend simple signs can be quite a challenge for his daily tasks.  and here i am, odd-hour working monkey, another day at the gym for another cookie in the belly, head full of curious oddities of the ymca.

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