12 February 2007

Of Gyms and Germs

So it's been a while, and I figured I'd post something really quickly just to prove that I'm alive. I'm still not running, of course, and am now over three weeks into my "recovery." Most of the minor aches and pains have indeed dissipated, though this primarily seems only to highlight how much residual soreness remains in my hamstrings and heels, the two places that have been giving me the most trouble all along. I'm not quite at the point of panic -- I realize it can take a long time for certain injuries to fully heal -- but I might be close. I really thought I'd be in less pain three weeks on.

Regardless, I've started going to the gym a couple of times a week, in an attempt to maintain at least a little cardiovascular fitness during my downtime from running. Believe it or not, I'd never really worked out in a gym before (running's been pretty much my only exercise over the last decade), and so everything seems new and fun and exciting as I learn both how to master the different machines there (which, as I discovered, isn't as easy as it looks) and observe the various aspects of gym culture and ettiquette.

This is going to sound somewhat weird, but I've particularly been enjoying the ritual of wiping down the equipment after I use it. Not only do the rivulets and errant drops of my own persiration provide a satisfyingly tangible proof of the physical exertion I've just engaged in, but I'm admittedly a little delighted by the sheer politeness of it. I realize, of course, that there are very sound sanitary reasons for such activities, but it also just seems so nice -- so civilized. "Hold on a sec," I'm thinking as I smile at the next person waiting to use the machine, "just let me wipe this down for you." Then, after I've quickly but thoroughly removed the remaining liquified evidence of my workout, a slight nod in the general direction of my successor completes the transfer, and I walk away happy.

Maybe, of course, it's just the post-workout endorphins. But seriously, can you imagine how much more pleasant city life would be if this kind of behavior was widespread? If people toweled off their bus or subway seats for the next rider upon reaching their stop? If customers at the supermarket quickly wiped down their shopping cart when they were done using it, and then presented it to you with a smile? If your co-workers actually cleaned the microwave in the break room after nuking their little container of SpaghettiO's that left a speckled coating of tomato sauce all over the inside of it?

It'd be a golden age, I tell you. Or maybe I'm simply discovering a neurotic, germophobic side of myself I've never had the opportunity to get acquainted with. Either way, I'm digging the gym. For now, at least.

Archival picture of the day:

bowling alley, gravesend
Shell Road in Gravesend