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TWO RECENT FITNESS CENTER VIGNETTES

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Firsts at the Fitness Center in Waikiki

This week there were many novelties at the fitness center. One tall young man sported oversized headphones that he had wrapped around two towels that covered his head as he strode from machine to machine. An older pint-sized fellow had an enormous ego; in between bouts of upper body repetitions, he strutted in front of the wall-to-wall mirrors and flamboyantly flexed his muscles. A young lady who effortlessly lifted substantial weights wore a yellow and red dotted monitor that fully encased one of her upper arms. Next to her was a middle-aged man who gamely hobbled about with a huge padded brace fastened from his toes to his lower thigh.

But the most memorable “first” involved the unexpressive, stone-faced elderly man who mops the floor and cleans the bathrooms. I often have noticed him since I joined the gym a decade ago. Throughout that time, I have never seen him smile or heard him utter a word. He just dutifully does his job as inconspicuously as possible. Today, however, was a revelation. He began an animated conversation with a young woman; he even smiled a bit as well.

The fitness center clients intrigued me: The cleaner inspired me.

 

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After spending many years at fitness centers, especially the one in Waikiki, I have seen lots of people display eccentric behavior between and within workouts on machines or free weights: their antics range from mumbling mantras to stomping in circles. In fact, yesterday a man after a strenuous weight-lifting bout swaggered and exclaimed with maniacal joy “God, wow, yeah, oh that was so good.” But I had never noticed anyone doing anything odd just before drinking at the water fountain: not until today.

Right as I entered my neighborhood Waikiki gym, I noticed a sweat-drenched young man sidle up to the cooler, straddle it, lethargically wiggle his hips, and shuffle his feet as if he were an old-timer doing a ditsy two-step. After a few moments, he slurped up a stream of water and, refreshed, regained his balance and strode away.” I wondered if this ritual was spontaneous or routine.

Next April, the Waikiki 24-hour Fitness Center, which is only a few blocks away from my condo, unfortunately is due to close and relocate elsewhere. I will miss its proximity. I just hope that whichever 24-hour gym I will go to in Honolulu will have a similarly novel clientele who will occasionally distract me and even delight me with unexpected entertainment.

 

 

schlomo
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