You no doubt recall that one of my goals for 2012 was to join a gym here in Paris. Not very original, as far as New Years Goals go, I know, but a good one for me because 1) I hadn’t worked out regularly in a gym since early summer, and 2) I am eating a lot, and 3) I need to mingle with the French more, and 4) I am drinking a lot (but only on the weekends, as per another 2012 goal), and 5) I figured it would be good for at least one blog post.
I called one of my friends who joined a gym when she got here a year ago, and asked if she would take me on a tour and let me go to a class with her. She enthusiastically agreed. It seems she really loves going to the gym and was eager to get me on her team. The gym is called Club Med and is a chain with many Paris locations. Yes, it is affiliated with Club Med vacations, but as far as I can tell it is only by name. I keep waiting for someone to offer me a massage or a drink out of a coconut shell, and nothing yet. But it’s that hope that keeps me going, day after day. That and the hope that I will be able to get back into some of the pants I brought over with me in August.
Although there is a small location just around the corner from me, so far I have been going to the “super-center” gym my friend goes to because it seems a little nicer and because I like seeing my friend and occasional other ex-pats. I have always been a morning exerciser, and if I walk the dog a half-hour earlier in the morning, I can catch the bus and make the 8<30 class called Body Sculpt. This class seems to be popular with the Older Set, although there are always a few youngsters there to make us feel worse about ourselves. The teachers rotate and also rotate their own routines , so it hasn’t gotten boring yet. The first class I tried was really crowded and we inadvertently ended up in the very front row, right in front of the teacher who I swear never smiled the entire 45 minutes. The other classes have been better, and some of the teachers do occasionally smile and joke around with the class. I always kind of worry they are talking about me when they joke with the French people around me, but because I am definitely closer to the beat than most of the others, I doubt that they are laughing at me. Maybe at my big clunky American tennis shoes, but not at me. I am learning to count backwards in French, and also getting a good review of body part terminology. Occasionally I will understand something being said to me or around me, and that’s always cause for a petite celebration in my heart. Those little triumphs can go a long way toward boosting self-confidence. The classes are challenging and varied, although I haven’t tried anything other than Body Sculpt, “Abs, Butt and Thighs” (or something like that) and Body Balance, which is kind of an intro to yoga. They also offer Body Pump , Body Combat, Spinning, Yoga, and many others.
When I mentioned on Face Book that I was about to take this plunge, several people commented that they pictured the French women leaning languidly against the machines, in sexy togs, smoking and chatting away. Actually, the people on the machines seems to be sweating on them. The workout clothes are generally conservative. No Nike shorts in sight for the women, though- all wear lycra pants, usually full-length. The lingerie spotted in the changing room is a bit racier than one usually sees in gyms at home, and that’s all I am going to say about that. Most of the French women do seem to work out in full makeup, which is weird to me, but not unheard-of at home. Smoking is not allowed in the building, and I am surprised that I don’t see hundreds of cigarette butts on the steps leading down to the gym, as people frantically inhale their final lung-fulls of carcinogens before working out. Maybe they stick them in their sports bras so they can finish them later.
The music in my classes has been almost entirely American, and almost entirely bad. I was kind of happy to hear Shania Twain on Friday, though. Gotta love “Feel Like A Woman” when your thighs are on fire from a set of squats that you know is only half-way over.
Other than riding a bus to and from the gym, and not understanding most of what the instructor says, it’s not unlike going to the gym at home. You go, you sweat, you suffer, you leave, you inhale a croissant, and you hurt the next morning. And then you do the whole thing over again.
We will be gathered around our Slingbox this evening, waiting for Ellen to come on and hoping to see my daughter’s smooth moves on national (and in our case, international) TV. I’ll report back.