Saturday, September 08, 2007

the next chapter

There's been a lot of drama in the neighborhood this week. Message boards immediately went up about the gym, with people commiserating about how much they'd miss it and the impact its closing would have on the neighborhood; then rumors started flying and the flame wars began. Some said the owner was going to be on Oprah. NPR interviewed a group of people threatening a class action suit. Then came word the owner had tried to kill himself and was hospitalized. The anger didn't die down. People said really, really ugly things.

Then, today, big signs appeared in our location and the Bucktown location (housed in what had been the Real World Chicago building, btw) saying the gym would reopen on Sunday under new management.

I'm happy and relieved and a little embarrassed at feeling so happy and relieved about a gym. It's been a weird to see both how neighborly and how Lord of the Flies-ish it got around here this week.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

I almost didn't lift weights yesterday. I had just spent 45 minutes on an elliptical--my first time since surgery--and was feeling pretty triumphant and already a little sore in the legs. Why not just come back tomorrow and lift with gf when she's in town? But I was there, and it wasn't crowded and my ipod still had a strong charge, since I had spent the whole time on the elliptical talking to one of my favorite colleagues/gym buddies who hadn't been around all summer. So I did my full weight routine and even threw in some extra shoulder exercises and went home feeling happy and tired.

I love working out at my gym. I love how it looks like a loft, with exposed brick walls and huge vaulting ceilings and tons of windows. I love that I know, or at least recognize, many of the people who work out there, because we've all been going there for years. I love how gay the gym is, and not in a cliquish, Chelsea kind of way: everyone is nice to everyone there. There's not pressure to be thin or pretty or hip. Purists, who remember the neighborhood before the gym arrived would scoff at this, but I think it's made the neighborhood a friendlier, more accessible place, an impossibly cheerful queer community. In a city where you mostly have to spend money to get community, usually at gay bars, this place offered an inclusive, social, healthy, relatively cheap alternative. Not that there aren't plenty of gay bars nearby where you can go for a post-workout drink, or five.

I have belonged to many gyms in my adult life, more than I can probably even remember, since I've moved around a lot and joined a gym every place I've lived. I've never felt so attached to a gym, felt such a sense of belonging and happiness to be there. Because, really, you're supposed to spend most of your time as a gym member feeling guilty about not going, right?

Today the gym was closed. Forever. A rambling note on the door, from the owner, claimed he had to close the gym (along with his two other locations) because of employee theft, which nobody believes. GF and I walked by on our way home from a bar tonight, where everyone had been talking about the sudden closing, and there were news vans lining the street and swarms of people milling about, reading the sign, and swapping stories about their run-ins with the owner, who has a reputation as kind of a, let's say, troubled soul. There was lots of talk of how he lost the gym up his nose.

GF and I are pretty bummed. We can join another gym--employees from rival gyms spent the day passing out fliers with offers of waived memberships for Gone Gym's members--but we don't want to. We realized, talking with people on the street tonight, how much we'd built our lives around the gym, and how it tied us to the neighborhood. You're supposed to flake on the gym; it's not supposed to flake on you. I'm glad I lifted yesterday.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

10 IQ points stupider after yesterday

Did anyone else find it almost impossible to turn off VH1's Rock of Love Marathon yesterday?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I just got back from visiting my family in California and my otherwise smart, feminist, kick-ass niece introduced me to this show. (I don't think her mom knows she watches it.) I could have finished a syllabus yesterday. I could have worked on my book. I could have bathed, or exercised, or cooked, or gone grocery shopping.

But I didn't. I sat on the couch and watched the trashiest women I've ever seen roll in mud, flip off of motocross cycles, dig through garbage cans, drink until they couldn't stand up, vomit through their fingers, strip off their clothes and fling themselves onto stripper poles, and tear each other's hair out over this guy:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Hope everyone's labor day was as fun and productive as mine.