Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Membership Has its Privileges

Now maybe everyone who gets serious about working out falls a little in love with their gym. I've been a member of a few of health clubs in the past, but I always felt pretty alienated by whatever gym I was going to at the time.

But my current gym, Portland's Cascade Athletic Club, seems to suit me well.

For one thing, I have NEVER had to wait for a machine in the cardio room. The gym is vast, and it's never very crowded. In the free-weight area, it's often just me and one or two other people. No one has ever asked me if they could "work in a set" at the weight machines. The sauna generally offers blissful solitude.

More importantly, the gym has a diverse clientele. Yeah, there are some show-offy guys working the free weights (and one show-offy woman--me), but most of the people who go there are not hard-core gym bunnies. Instead, there is a high proportion of older folks, as the gym is where you get a free membership after age 65 if you are insured by Kaiser. In fact, I usually go in the mornings, when the overwhelming percentage of the people working out are seniors. This is awesome for many reasons. For one thing, the locker room is full of older women walking around unselfconsciously nude. No hiding their aging bodies in a towel or dressing huddled behind the open door of their locker. As you can guess, this is rather inspiring.

And out on the gym floor, it's kind of great to see older people committed to staying strong. The other day I was watching as an older woman with a body that was slender as a reed and a crown of hair that was as white, round, and insubstantial as a dandelion head gone to seed. She was over on the lat-pulldown machine ripping it up with 40 pounds of weight.

Yeah, Cascade Athletic Club is not your average hanging-out-in-Spandex-chatting-up- members-of-the-opposite-sex gym, which is just how I like it.

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