The Gym

S has encouraged me to join the gym he has been using since last spring. He said that the bath and sauna alone are relaxing and worth the membership fees and that I could use the pool mornings when the kids are in school. To get the most out of my membership, I went with him on the first of this month to sign up and get started.

There are a few gyms in the neighborhood, one is actually quite luxurious with flashy new facilities, lots of aerobikes, walking and jogging machines, step machines and 5 or 6 of every type of weight machine as well as all sorts of lessons in aerobics, yoga, kick boxing, swimming, water aerobics etc. available. I went there as a visitor with a friend from the neighborhood last spring and had a yoga class with about 50 other perspective members and their member friends. Another is a little older but has similar facilities and about half the classes.

The club S felt was the best bargain for our purposes is the oldest in the area. It attracts the less cosmopolitan clients. It has a 25 meter pool and a small machine studio with one of every machine, 5 stationary bikes, 3 walking machines, 1 jogging machine and a small mirrored area where classes of up to 10 can do aerobics (if they have full membership). I have a "training" membership which lets me use the facilities but requires 1,000 yen extra for every lesson I decide to take. There are only one or two classes a day.

S showed me how to use some of the machines and then rested while I worked out a while as he didn't want to overstress his neck just yet. Then we headed off to our respective locker rooms to relax in the sauna and use the big Japanese style baths and showers. He enjoyed his time in the men's bath, happily thinking of how he had generously provided me with a nice way to relax.

In the meantime, I was bustled about by a large group of women who had just finished their morning water aerobics in the pool and were heartily sudsing up and spraying their soap all over the place, having loud conversations over the jacuzzi jets about how the sauna was broken yet again and shoving around to make room in the big bathtub for their friends. I ended up showering quickly (without covering the rest of the bathers with my shampoo, I know proper communal bathiquette) and getting dressed to go out and wait for S.

He was surprised to hear about the crowd as the men's room is only busy in the evening. We've figured out that lunchtime might be the best time to go as the morning class ladies will have finished by then. I went yesterday to try this theory out only to find one woman paddling around horizontally in an undignified manner in a quarter of the usual amount of hot water as the tub wouldn't fill any farther due to some problem with the boiler. She shouted out happily to all who entered (not as many as the previous morning, as suspected) that as the sauna was still broken and the bath wasn't filling up, this was the only way to get warm after her morning swim. Great, a foot bath...The showers are powerful and hot anyway.

Today I took the kids to the local shrine's annual bean throwing event so I don't know how the gym is on Saturdays. There is a supermarket on the first floor of the gym so I can do the daily shopping on my way home from working out. I was glad that S was so encouraging about getting started as my 2 or 3 long walks a week don't seem to be enough to keep (more like "get") in shape and I won't be able slack off if he's there too. I think that he uses the bath and sauna more than the gym when he goes though...


Anonymous said...

How great to hear about your gym. It sounds just like ours. We, too, have an option of the new 'fancy' one but for 15 years have been members of the smaller, slightly worn-looking one with an average membership age of 65! It is absolutely great. No one bothers me to 'compete' with them "How many kilometers did you run" because most of us only walk! The bath and the sauna are terrific. I love the conversations with the women I've known now for over a decade and the bath seems to be the place where it all happens. "Where have you been? Catch a cold? Haven't seen you for over a week." And the stories of their lives - I could write a book. Although many cosmetic changes need to be made to the facility, the 'heart' there is what brings us all and keeps us sweating. On Jan. 4th the place was jam-packed. Everyone had come to do 'aisatsu' (Happy New Year) and to work out. Many are retired. And, yes, you've got to time the bath thing - when the ladies' is emptier, the men's is full so my husband and I cannot always find the most perfect time for us both to go...but there are many 'couples' members and we do our best to go together regularly. Kind of like an 'outing' - a chance to chat in the car on the way over, and to interact with folks there. Your gym sounds great! So glad you've joined.