Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spot me: Corporate Gym review

This piece appeared in my department's quarterly newsletter. I liked it enough to post it here, so enjoy :). Coworker name, city, and a few select details have been changed, but s'all the same apart from that.

PAFN Field Day 2009

With the urgency of a department newsletter article to produce, I laced up my sneakers and parked my biscuit on one of two treadmills at the Corporate Gym and hoped I would not be joined by anybody I recognize. I normally wouldn’t subject my acquaintances to the cruel misfortune of witnessing me sweating it out in workout attire, but I am willing to sacrifice some dignity for my fellow [people who work in my department]ers … By visiting the gym when I assumed most people had already left the office for the day.
I waited, of course, until the New Year’s resolutionists had lost most of their fervency before I paid a visit because I refuse to engage in the cumbersome acrobatics of changing in a narrow bathroom stall only to find both treadmills occupied, and so have nothing to do but lift weights for five minutes before I would inexorably succumb to boredom and drive home. (Alternatively, one could, of course, change in the more commodious bathroom stall if it is otherwise unoccupied, but I was not so lucky during my visit.)
Gym time is my one holy hour of solitude. I’m a member of [local gym] and go out of my way to steer clear of people I know at the gym because I prefer to exercise anonymously. For example, I avoid [local gym] location near by old high school in Falls Church – where teachers I recognize and snooty LBCers do yoga – whenever possible. Instead, I go to the location in my city of residence so I can workout happily among strangers. Bonus: No pressure to socialize (“My, what biceps you have!”), and I am familiar enough with the idiosyncrasies of the regulars to avoid the notoriously loud grunters, and obnoxious arm-flailers.

But back to the Corporate Gym: I admittedly did not have high expectations for the gym, but I was very impressed with the set-up and ambience. For such a tiny room, Facilities Management certainly did an excellent job with the aesthetics and maximizing the limited floor space. The walls are painted a homely green, and the floor is covered in sleek black matting. The mirrored wall is lined with free weights aplenty, and there is a circle of five weight-lifting machines. Beside the pitiful stationary bike are two very nice treadmills – better than the ones at my gym. I’m very impressed, and it was well worth the two minutes required to fill out and submit the Fitness Waiver Release Form.
Obvious inconveniences of the Corporate Gym include that anxiety-inducing walk from the gym to the adjacent restrooms that double as locker rooms – especially during working hours. Obviously, this is not the place for bottom-hugging spandex leggings. Corporate Gym regular Christine said she often felt self-conscious at first, but people seemed to grow indifferent to the occasional sight of a fellow employee in workout attire.
“Some people smiled at first when they saw me walking to the gym but now I think nobody cares when they see me,” Christine said.
Few things are more irritating than finally gathering the motivation to change into workout clothes, driving/waking all the way to the gym, and finding no vacant machines. So, how busy does it get at the Corporate Gym? Not too bad if you’re just lifting weights, it seems.
“The gym seemed to be most crowded during lunch time hours (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.),” Christine said. “It is not crowded before then. After 1 p.m., it is sometimes crowded. I’m using the word ‘crowded’ to mean 2 people using the treadmill … The most crowded that I have ever seen it is 2 people on the treadmill and 1 (maybe 2) people on the weight machines.”
Would I forego my gym membership to exercise exclusively at the Corporate Gym? Well, I’m locked in a one-year contract, and [city I work in] is an awfully long drive from Alexandria for weekend gym excursions, so I’ll stick with my gym membership for now.

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