It is ever so fashionable to belong to the Next Generation gym. You pay an arm and a leg to tone an arm and a leg. Toney toning. I know a lot of people who pay the ransom of membership - most of them assuming that belonging is enough. They barely ever go. It is fitness by association.
When my mate, Annie, suggested that, instead of a Sunday walk on the beach, we go to this gym for a swim, my curiosity got the best of me. Why not have a look at the place. Annie has a Platinum membership which comes complete with guest passes - so out with the old swim togs and off we went, into the exclusive underground carpark and up into fitness deluxe world. They wanted a lot of information just to let me have a swim, so I filled in forms dutifully - and off we went to the inner sanctum of Platinum, where only those who pay most may go. Well, for that price, they get three fake venetian glass mosaic recliners with central heating - plus two spas, a steam room, a sauna and an ice room. Wow - not. But it was swim I sought, so off we trotted to another section - indoor and outdoor pools. Outdoor was a bit cold, so we retreated to the warm pool where lines were allocated for different speeds of lap swimming. The water is shallow. No treading water, which is a favored exercise of mine. Oh well. We swam some laps in the quietest lane. I hate splashing, so I was not pleased to find some idiot lapping in butterfly strokes beside me. In a shared pool, butterfly strikes me as plain bad manners. But, hey, I'm not a member, who am I to complain? So I just observed with amusement the sleazy middle-aged men sitting about in the spa to perv on the women around the pool. And the odd sense of superiority people assume when at the gym. Mostly they are alone and looking as if the are terribly important. The one thing one does not see is enjoyment. Instead, it is a mask of exclusivity - and I suppose a sense of narcissitic purpose.
We finished off with a coffee in the big lounge area, which was fairly pleasant, looking onto the indoor pool. And, as we handed back the plastic passes which take one through the sections, I told the receptionist that I was sorry I could never join a gym which did not have a smoking room.