« Dispatches from Japan: Day 11 | Main | "What do nine out of ten people like?" »

World Health

I am not afraid of many things, but right now I'm sitting in the entryway of the gym where I want to sign up, and I have butterflies in my stomach. Various people pass by me in various states of fitness, each carrying a duffel bag, or a water bottle, or a power shake, or all three, each doing a little shuffle dance on the mat as they get off the stairs. They say hello to each other, laugh, exchange stories. A mere glance into the open exercise area throws me into cold sweat, as memories of high school gym come flooding in: so many activities I walked my way through, so many missed classes... Ladies and gentlemen, if ever there was an unholy terror struck into the heart of me, it is that of public exercise and communal fitness. I have never been cut out for this shameless exposure of the body's contortions under the perfect, unforgiving lighting reflected off the gleaming weights and machines. I remember suddenly those horrific excursions to the ______ Community Centre in _________ with my father and brother, and then only with my brother, and then only alone, and then not at all. There was a youngish guy who worked at the gym. He had a hearing aid and always looked a little retarded.