Weekend Wanderer: For the Love of a Gym

weekend wanderer

I’m in love.

It’s a terrible kind of love, the kind you know will be lost – like watching Jack and Rose in Titanic or Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese in The Terminator.

And now that I’ve said that I’m thinking James Cameron has some kind of vendetta against love. Can’t people who love each other just be together, James Cameron? You could have let Rose stay on the lifeboat. You could have given Jack the door.

Anyway, don’t get tense and fidgety, worrying about my husband. The object of my love is not a person but a place.

A gym.

Don’t go, because I promise this isn’t a treatise on the virtues of exercise. This is definitely a love story.

My usual gym is my kids’ karate school, which runs fitness classes concurrent with the kids’ class. The classes are hard and small, and my husband calls the people there my workout family.

To win over an introvert that way is no small thing, guys. I hope you recognize your achievement.

But late winter brought troubling news to my house. Nothing fatal or dire – my life isn’t written by James Cameron – but it meant spending many hours in King of Prussia.

Many, many hours in King of Prussia.

At first, I thought I’d just spend those hours kicking around the mall. But the mall has a J. Crew and a Starbucks. I would have single-handedly pulled J. Crew from bankruptcy while hyper-caffeinated and needing to pee every 12 seconds.

That would have ended my marriage. Better to fall in love.

So I joined a gym. My karate school workout family calls it my Real Housewives of King of Prussia gym. But to be fair, they are the ones I’m cheating on here. They’re entitled to their spite.

We often roll into our karate school workouts in old T-shirts while our kids and sometimes our trainer’s dogs dart in and out of class. We buy water on the honor system, stuffing dollars into a piggy bank shaped like Darth Vader’s head. We have picnics and Halloween parties, the kids sticky with juice and chocolate. It is wonderful and it is home.

The Real Housewives of King of Prussia gym strokes a different side of me, the side that is obsessively clean and orderly.

The workout clothes at Real Housewives all match and, I’m sure, wick moisture. The only kids there are in camp and walk in such straight lines they are destined for promising careers with the United States Marines.

Real Housewives doesn’t have a Darth Vader head, but it does have a café. The water costs 100 percent more than Darth Vader’s water, and the only chocolate is the whey protein I put in my smoothie.

There’s a spa, and if you get a massage your therapist will go over to the café while you dress so your chocolate whey protein smoothie is waiting for you.

The locker room is lengthy enough to itself be the Titanic. Stacks of bright white towels sit folded on shelves. Showers with frosted doors beckon.

The workout floor is just as expansive – and expensive – with equipment lined up in neat rows. If you can pull yourself away from the treetop view, you’ll find a ring of televisions around the room, playing the news, Law & Order, and ESPN all at once.

My time in King of Prussia is ending. And so, therefore, is my time at the Real Housewives gym.

But I’m having trouble breaking up with Real Housewives. It’s so pretty.

The breakup will happen, one way or another. Our relationship is long-distance, which never works. And my husband, though happy with the fruits of my labor, hasn’t exactly enjoyed the expense.

Or the 400 chocolate whey smoothies I’ve drunk. As it turns out, when the café is organic, it’s not just the water that’s 100 percent more expensive.

There’s also this disturbing article from the AP. The upshot is thanks to the pandemic, gyms may become as obsolete as – in the words of author John Seewer – arcades and video stores.

He says bookstores are obsolete too, but that’s too much for me to deal with as my breakup looms. Bookstores hold unparalleled joy. Few places allow you to drink hot chocolate while perusing a history of hemophilia in the Romanov monarchy or a new romance by Shannon McKenna filled with all sorts of things you have to Google.

Yesterday was our last day in King of Prussia. I am supposed to turn over a letter resigning my membership at Real Housewives.

But Neil Sedaka is right. Breaking up is hard to do. Wouldn’t Rose want more time with Jack? Didn’t Sarah Connor wish for Kyle Reese to know his son?

Well, Kyle Reese does know his son. He just doesn’t know he’s his son. That’s how James Cameron rolls. All sorts of love withering in the ether.

Well, my love isn’t going to wither. I’m going to indulge it. For just a little longer.

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