Friday, January 18, 2008


Last November, the Wife and I realized the weather was achanging and it was time for our yearly transition from outdoor exercise to gym membership. Sadly, we discovered the area of Toronto we live in is quite thin on indoor hamster wheel options. Usually, we would just join the YMCA/YWCA, but there are none around us. After some web searching, we decided on Primary Exercise Place (not it's real name - I fear gym repercussions) because it was the closest.

When we went the first time, we basically just wanted to sign up and get going. However, they forced us to take a tour of the facilities. On our tour, I noticed that it wasn't as crowded as our Minneapolis gym. When I asked our guide why this was, he said ,"You guys are from the States. Canada has less people than the U.S." Fascinating theory.

The place seemed kind of depressing - it was basically a gym converted from an old grocery store, but we couldn't be too choosy. After the tour, we got the whole spiel - "normally I would charge you this unbelievably expensive rate, but because I'm feeling generous let me write in some numbers, confuse you, then you'll know I'm giving you a great deal." We were so exasperated at the end that the Wife and I were like, "Yes, can we leave now?"

Probably the worst part was the Wife and I were then forced to pay $50 each to have a fitness assessment. I passed most of mine with flying colours. However, my pull-up ability has not improved since high school (and it's still embarrassing to only do one, then hang there for 2o seconds pretending like I'm going to do another).

Then we got to the part of the assessment where they hooked me up to a machine to calculate my body fat. After the spending five minutes looking at my results, the fitness woman had to run it again because it wasn't coming out right. Then when the results on the test came up the second time, the look on her face scared me.

According to the test I was 29% body fat and unhealthily low on water retention. This qualifies me as obese. Well, I may have a little bit of a cerveza belly, but I am certainly not obese. You can ask anybody who knows me.

Worried about myself, I went home and checked my packet. Turns out you aren't supposed to drink alcohol the night before the test. I may have accidentally drank like ten beers with my friend from out of town the day before (It was the Grey Cup and we were going over the top). I also may have eaten a bunch of peameal bacon that morning, another no no. Seems I'm not good at reading instructions.

Anyway, a couple of days later the Wife got her assessment. She performed better than me, but their final assessment for both us was weight lifting. But not just weight lifting, weights to strengthen our "cores". And the only way we could possibly tackle this was with a personal trainer, because clearly we were idiots who couldn't take care of ourselves. Though they "normally don't do this" they were going to let the Wife and I get a deal by offering us one personal trainer for 12 hours - $600. My body may be a temple, but it's not worth that much.

Feeling confident, I tried to explain to them that I had screwed up the test and needed another assessment. There would be no need for a personal trainer after the second one.

Their response: "The test's not important. You need muscle."

Look, I've seen myself in the mirror - I don't need a fitness assessment, personal trainer or a gym membership to tell me I need more muscle. So I started my own weight lifting routine the next week, without the personal trainer. I immediately hurt this horrible place in the middle of my back while I was transporting the weights to the area I was going to lift them. Now, I'm on the cardio machines all the time. Maybe I just imagine it, but it seems like every time a staff person walks by, they look at my tiny arms and smirk.

Primary Exercise Place gets 2.2 Hortons. It's really kind of depressing with twenty television sets above the treadmills all set to the same station. They've got some crazy machines - a lot of which don't work. It's not exactly the kind of place I want to spend 5 hours each week, but I guess it gets the job done.


Zhu said...

You guys are from the States. Canada has less people than the U.S.

Mensa guy, obviously :D

I used to go to the Y in Ottawa but stopped because they have a huge waiting list for lockers. I swear it was the only reason. Commuting everyday with a big sports bag and dragging it all day... that was basically my exercise. 2008

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