And this man tried to kill me. Oh, don’t let that pretty face fool ya. HA! The man is darkness personified. At least no one over at Workout-Time tried to hurt little ole La Jefa! But I guess here in Escazú, Land of Gringos, things are done a little differently. More developed-nation like. They definitely charge developed-nation-like prices. Still, it’s cheaper than Key West. Where isn’t?
As soon as we got all moved into our new house, we started looking for a gym. Xavier is hot on working out. Something about getting old. I try not to listen. We were looking for someplace a little more along the lines of good ole Workout-Time that would be charging good ole Workout-Time prices. Something neighborhoody. We don’t need no stinking modern equipment to build these old bodies. Perhaps "build" is the wrong word. "Salvage" would be more fitting. But, no, nary a neighborhood gym left in good ole Escazú. I did find a World Gym for $100 month. It had EVERYTHING. Including well-dressed, fit gringas in brand new Nikes and gold bracelets. Too rich for me. Workout-Time was only $16/month. Just the thought of jumping from $16 to $100 got my heart pumping.
After visiting all the gyms we could find, we decided on Gimnasio ArenaTrek. A first-world gym, it was the most welcoming, only $30/month, clean, far more tico than gringo members, with every piece of new equipment we could imagine. And then some. The trainers all look so nice. Which is part of their gimmick. I’m writing this as a public service: don’t be fooled. They get your money, THEN they try to kill you.
First, you fill out a complete medical history. In Spanish. You fill out a lot of forms here. Usually just before or just after standing in line. They are all in Spanish, of course. I have the Big Four down: nombre [GNOME-bray, name], numero de telefono [KNEW-mare-oh day tay-LAY-phone-oh, phone number], cedula [SAID-you-la, passport number], and direcciones [dee-WRECK-sea-own-ace, directions to your house… since there are no "addresses" as we gringos know it, you tell people how to get to your house: the directions. You need to know it en ingles y español.]
After the Big Four, there was a long list of diseases I couldn’t decipher, so I just checked no. I didn’t see any word that resembled insanity and I don’t have anything else, so I figure I’m good to go.
Then he weighed me. The results were in kilograms and I am studiously avoiding knowing the conversion. Still, it sounded like an awfully big number for a mere slip of a girl 5′ tall.
Then he measured me. He had a tape that went all the way around me. Imagine that. He’d get a result, then shake his head. Yes, he actually shook his head. I’ll bet there is no head shakin’ goin’ on over at World Gym. I decide, however, to save $70 a month, he can shake his head at me.
Then he tricked me. He asked me to grab this instrument with both hands, hold it out in front of me and squeeze the handles as hard as I could. I figured this must be a strength measuring device. I may be pleasantly plump, but I am strong like bull. I squeezed the life out of the thing, got a great BIG number and, extremely pleased with myself, handed it back. He was shocked and awed. Turns out this is a body fat measuring device. If you are ever presented with one of these, go limp.
Then he asks me a whole bunch of questions about what I eat. "Cheeps?" No, I don’t eat chips. "Helado?" OK, occasionally I eat a spoonful of ice cream. "Soda?" No, I don’t drink soda. We go through this whole list and my answer to almost everything is no. He KNOWS I’m lying, I can see it on his face. But the truth is I don’t eat badly. I just eat muchly. I think because I eat so fastly, the FULL signal never gets to my brain. I gotta lot to do and no time for a leisurely meal… so I wolf it down and move on. You can get fat on rice cakes if you eat too fast. I know this for a fact.
I may have mentioned that Hal is an amazing cook. Former restaurateur, Italian family, grew up in the restaurant business, the whole nine yards. His meals taste so good, I don’t want to stop. Plus, Mom is moving here in three weeks and she is an actual gourmet cook, so look out. Left to my own devices, I wait until I’m starved, boil water, toss in a bag of noodles, go back to what I’m doing, then sit down to a lovely 5-minute meal of glued together over-cooked noodles with butter and salt. Rachel Ray I ain’t. I have other gifts.
Meanwhile, my new friend, Carlos, now shaking his head at all the lies I’ve told, decides the first thing I need to do is get on the treadmill for 20 minutes. OK, I can do that. Believe it or not, I used to run 6 miles a day with my friend Richard in Manhattan. We’d take off at around 5am from our respective homes at 72nd and Broadway, jog over to Central Park, do the route, jog home… I was so much younger then. I even ran a race in 1986. Ten miles through Central Park. In February. In the snow. Over Heartbreak Hill. I quit running right after that. I had done it all. Why continue the torture?
And, you know, I owned an aerobics fitness business for almost 20 years in Key West. I told Carlos this and he looked at me incredulously. Like "you expect me to believe THAT?" I’m not enjoying my time with Carlos as much as I thought I would.
He doesn’t scare me with his twenty minutes on a treadmill routine. Piece of cake. Unfortunately, he wasn’t near done. With an evil grin on his face, he added 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer. And THEN 20 minutes on the Wave thing. He must think I’m more than a little plump. The guy thinks I’m FAT. Yeah? Well, I’m also competitive. So this jerk thinks I can’t do all this? I WILL SHOW HIM A THING OR TWO ABOUT OLD FAT WOMEN.
I do the treadmill fine. I even add a good amount of incline and he is impressed when he comes by to check on me after 10 minutes. The elliptical is a little harder, particularly after 20 minutes of a good workout already done. I have an elliptical in Key West so I am intimately familiar with how hard that sucker is. Best $2,000 I ever spent, by the way. I actually used it and it actually worked. It’s now sitting in Roger’s gym at Salt Ponds. Hope it’s getting a workout. I sure am.
By the time I get to the Wave thing, I’m plumb wore out. That sucker almost killed me. The movement is akin to skiing (not that I’ve ever skiied. Could "skiied" possibly be a word?) While introducing me to the Wave, my buddy Carlos patted his butt while staring at mine and gave a big thumbs up. Carlos needs to learn a thing or two about talking to women.
Here’s the Wave thing in action. The woman in this video (which is sideways… sorry about that) is using it on level 14. I started on a 3 and had to jump down to a 1 almost immediately. My heart rate was at 160bpm almost the entire time. After 10 minutes, I was dead. Er, done.
We try to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. All I do so far is the 50 minutes of aerobics. I can do my whole 10 minutes on the Wave mostly at the 3, sometimes 2, without heart failure. I actually enjoy the darn thing. And I feel so GREAT afterwards. You forget the magic endorphines do for you. Talk about a body/mind connection. I haven’t lost any weight yet… a testament to just how fat I’ve gotten!!! That last trip to Key West really packed it on. Every time I saw someone, we ate. Next time, I’m meeting everyone at the gym. Or for coffee. Unless they want sushi. Sushi is not fattening and everyone knows it. A little rice never hurt anyone.
FYI, there is a full complement of classes here: yoga, pilates, step, dance, spinning, stretch, even classes using that big ball. I bought one of those balls after I saw Janet Jackson using one on Oprah. Mostly it rolls around the house without my body attached to it. I’m going to use it now. I know there are abs under this belly fat. Somewhere. The ball exercises are HARD, but I don’t care if finding my 6-pack is painful. I don’t like being fat.
And even though I don’t like Carlos (ok, I do like him), I don’t want the old thumbs up thing with him looking at my hips again. Jerk.