“Seize every day & live a good life.” The advice of the gym’s founder is painted in big white letters across the black beam from wall to wall. The ground floor below the beam houses the muscle exercising and weigh lifting equipment. Above the beam on the wrap-around open concept second floor stood all the cardio exercise beasts: elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bikes and rowing machines.
On the ab crunch machine sits the young and fit Amy early in the morning, with her arms up holding on to the weights rocking back and forth. Two strings of hair that were left out of her pony tail hanging in front of her red face. Her abdomen is so lean and flat; there doesn’t really seem to be anything to crunch. Amy works long hours assisting in a legal firm. With salad packed in her bag, she starts her day fresh in the gym, long before sun rises, and get out of there even more fresh before the lawyers arrive at the office.
In the corner by the seated chest machine, old Mrs. Scape with her short white curly hair finds a little space in mid mornings where she half stretches her arms and moves her frail legs about. Using any of the equipment is beyond her capability, and she could do all these gentle movements at her old age home, but she would not give up the precious moment when she sits down at the bridge table in the evening, and her bridge partner Mrs. Noseley will invariably ask her: “So, what were you up to today, Rose?” And she will reply with a matter-of-fact expression: “Oh, I just went to work out in the gym.” She secretly savours the unspeakable pleasure of telling them that she got out of this death-in-the-air hole to be part of a sweat and youth site.
On the bench press Big John lies at the end of the day with a few hundred pounds of bells stacked on each end of the bar he holds above his chest. He puffs out a big breath while pushing up the monster weight, his tattooed chest and vain-popping arms looking ready to burst. The gap between his fifty-year old face and his thirty-year old body is bridged by a black baseball cap on his bald head. His shift at the nearby supermarket doesn’t spend him enough and he gifts his strength to the bell bars in the gym before he goes home, opens a beer and takes a bowl of chunky stew from his wife to nourish his much treasured muscles.
Then there is Nathan the trainer in his red jacket. His clients keep him there all day from 5:00am to 7:00pm on most days. He holds a notepad where he tracks the routines he assigns to them and the progresses they make. Today he is going to his mother’s place after the gym to let her pamper him with his favourite upside pineapple cake and celebrate his certification of level III personal trainer. Surely she will turn her head to Nathan’s younger brother, who is following Nathan’s suit to become a trainer after years of trying to figure out what to do but not quite ready to give up his sleep-in: “So, when are you going to get your certificate, George?” While George mumbles something, Nathan will take a big bite of his mother’s treat feeling really good.