Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.



I could probably write a book about my experiences with my gym, and maybe, with this blog, I am. After all, I’ve written here about possible mistaken identities, the lack of soap, shit in the showers, and so much more.

Just after writing that last post, I decided to fulfill my pledge of earlier that day to absolutely, positively, go to the gym. Even though it was 11 p.m. As I’ve said here before, one of the things I like about 24 Hour Fitness is that 24 hour part. It eliminates excuses. No matter when you’re ready, the gym is there and open.

My usual habit at the gym is this:  I start with 20 minutes of “stretching,” which includes setups, planking, some other things, and about 10 minutes on a diabolical bicycle-like thing that contorts you into various positions as you tilt all the way back, like something being dumped into an imaginary hamper; follow with a circuit of lifting, then cardio. Because I don’t wear ear buds or head phones, or fiddle around with my iPhone — I’m not there to exercise my thumbs — I’m completely alone with my thoughts. During the cardio portion, my thoughts are generally this:  “Man, I can’t wait to get home and have a beer.” After cardio, I change into my swimsuit, shower off, use the steam room, shower off again, use the jacuzzi, then take a full-on actual shower after first using the swim-a-rator, or whatever it’s called, to drain the water from my swimsuit.

On this particular night I’m mentioning, I come out from jacuzzi and I’m standing there naked straining my swim suit in the swim-a-rator. A white haired little guy, also naked, comes over and stands slightly behind and next to me and looks at me, and says, “It’s cold standing there, no?”

I wonder what he means by that.

I tell him that I don’t think the swimsuit strainer is working well.

He says, “Are you from Russia?”

I say, “No, I’m from New Jersey. Where are you from?”

“I’m from Russia,” he says.

I think, gee, being from New Jersey, I can always tell a New Jersey accent; if this guy is from Russia, why can’t he tell I don’t have a Russian accent? He seems less Russian to me than… Armenian or something. I know a guy from the former Soviet Union whose country disappeared when the U.S.S.R. broke up. He’s not from Russia; he’s from one of the little satellite areas that no longer exists by that name or identity. He’s told me its name several times, but I can’t remember it and it no longer exists to look on a map. A similar thing happened to Franz Kafka, by the way – complete alienation from place – as a Jew growing up in an empire that dissolved in his lifetime, and speaking the language of his oppressor. So, now, whenever I see the guy from the country that no longer exists, I think of Franz Kafka. For a moment, I wonder if the man who says he’s from Russia is also actually from a country that no longer exists.

I’m thinking this while wondering if he’s ogling me.

I move away and go to weigh myself – once again, I’m the same weight I have been, which is simultaneously comforting and disappointing – and when I return holding a towel because I’m headed to the showers, the man is there again.

“How old are you?” he asks.

I’m wondering if, being from “Russia,” he doesn’t know how impertinent this is. “How old are you?” I ask.

“You first,” he says.

“57. Your turn.”

“I am 60,” he says. To me, he looks older. Do I really look three years younger than he does? And why am I having this conversation, both with him and in my head with myself?

“You look very good,” he says. “You have a good body. You are built.”

(I’m not.)

“Uhh, thanks,” I say. “Thanks.”

Then I walk to the showers, still naked, and go to a shower cubicle and close the door tightly.

When I come out, he’s gone.

Three weeks later, I haven’t seen him again. Not that I’m looking. Not that I would need to. I suspect he’d announce himself.

One Response to “(un)fitness”

  1. Dan Says:

    the price we must pay for being sexy…..

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