Out of Africa

2004-07-28 11:28
Me? Join a gym? I can't be trapped by the monoliths of architecture - the ceiling to my free spirit. I am Africa, born barefoot and belligerent on the open fields of the new world.

How can you sit there, dressed in that little membership consultant's uniform, breezily informing me that the only way to an enriched and fun life is to train indoors?

Convenience you say? I am the prancing gazelle of the Serengeti, the wallowing hippo of the Zambezi, the cheetah in full flight - why should I attend studio classes, swim in squads and hoof it on the treadmill? Would I consider a tour of the facilities? Oh: OK.

Wow! A 25m pool. That is exactly what I need, the Hartebeesport Dam (where I do my swimming) is no match in its dimension. I guess I could spend my morning's tumble turning like a pair of undies in a spin cycle. Lets move on I'm not impressed.

Now this lofty studio has an airy feel. I can see my in three dimensions - the mirrors make me feel like the lead role in a seventies pop musical and I just love the strip flooring. The sound system is awesome and that is a dinky little stage. But I'm not a drag queen and why would I want the constant reminder of my reflection informing me of a lack of rhythm?

Dutch windmill

Oh no: what in Heaven's name is that? What is that guy doing? He looks like an apprentice Dutch windmill, he's all arms and legs, pedalling and spinning on an apparatus that seems better suited to the twilight zone. Are you sure I'm not on Candid Camera?

Lets move to some raw iron. Isn't that what gyms are all about? Show me guys who cram 140kg of beef into little vests and parachute pants, lifting weights equal to Shetland ponies and popping veins that come with independent suspension.

It's just that I 'm not sure I trust that mob over there, riding on those bikes to nowhere, and look at that group on the treadmill: what makes them do it, an escalator fetish?

Ah yes, that's better, a weights section. But what's that? Looks like a collection of robots gathered around a metal dinner table engaged in some sort of traffic lesson.

I can imagine the instructor presenting the lesson for the day. "Listen up all you toning robots. "Listen up all you toning robots. Today you learn how to read a traffic light. Green means go, amber means nearly finished and red means that the human exercise person sitting in your padded cushion must get up and run up and down your dinner table." Now that's bad manners where I come from.

Impi

This strong something South African I can relate to - a strong cupboard to lock up my things, brilliant: but are those guys in that little room preparing themselves for the bowels of Hell? Seems awfully HOT in there. Shouldn't we call a manager to pour some water on those black rocks? I'm telling you, they're sweating like post-battle Impis in there.

There's a sign here: what's a steam room? Stop pulling me like that, these guys need help: ah, I see where we are going, this is much better - somebody's lounge, nice couch!

Now as we recline in a space suited to a Manhattan penthouse, you want to know my opinion on indoor training.

Tricky: let's recount my experience. I walked through the turnstile, greeted a smiling face, changed, locked my stuff away, got expert instruction on specialised equipment, swam in a pool free of water hyacinth, showered, rescued some really sick people in a HOT box then relaxed over an espresso while reading the day's papers - and all of this during an African thunderstorm. Did you say I could pay for my member-ship by credit card?

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