The Saddest Gym in the World

I’ve been spoiled, I realize now. I’ve worked at several large institutions with state-of-the-art gyms and I’ve become used to the cushy and the vast: but no more.

The gym at the first institution has a huge climbing wall in one section, a giant basketball court, ample changing rooms, a huge weight room, and another room full of workout machines, many with their own TVs. Cords run from the elliptical machines because they give power back, rather than taking power: not only is that gym a dazzling space for exercise, but the institution’s eco-friendliness extends to all corners of campus, including the gym.

The second institution’s gym has a lobby lounge area with couches, a bigscreen, and its own juice bar. There is a large swimming pool, aerobics rooms, the newest weight equipment with suitably built users, and an upstairs machine area near the indoor track, which curves around a giant basketball room and above large, glass-enclosed squash courts. The gym’s size is impressive, even if its eco-credentials fail next to the first gym.

And then, there’s the gym at my new institution. I’m thrilled for my new job: more responsibly, the stretching of my abilities, the chance to try new things. But my new institution is much smaller, and while there are some great resources here they are not on the same big, bright, shiny, goody-goodies on a massive scale level. This became clear when I visited the gym.

There’s a recently renovated gym for the institution’s students, but it’s expensive on my budget and not really intended for old foggies with sad, sad gym gear such as myself. Therefore, I found myself at the institution’s other gym: the gym that time forgot.

The room is not large, perhaps 25 foot by 25 foot, the lights florescent, and the walls cinderblock, painted two shades of gray.   Two elliptical machines, two treadmills, one stationary bike, and some old weight machines line the walls. There are two TVs from the 90s or so. The power buttons are punched out and the one remote doesn’t work, so they’re useless. There is no gesture to sustainability, though the DIY aspect of the gym gives it some default eco-cred. That’s it. I call it the Saddest Gym in the World; alternatively, the Gym that Time Forgot.

Of course I can’t get too worked up about this because despite the fact that the elliptical machines are decorated with lashings of duct tape (ah, duct tape, it makes me homesick for my Last Frontier homeland) and rusty, working out on them actually makes me sweat. So do the free weights, charming in their simplicity. And the gym is free—delightfully, deliciously free, making my budget-crazed heart so, so happy. So yes, I will return, feeling rather tragic, rather chronologically at a loss, to the Saddest Gym that Time Forget.

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