December 13, 2005

How The Other Half Swims

Morning Workout
Main Set: 3 x 400m time trial

Random Comments: I suppose if you're going to exercise early on the morning after the company Christmas party, it might as well be a dip in the pool. The time trial part wasn't the most optimal. In fact, the trial was really waking up at that time. (See how I played on those words? Time trial. The trial is the time. You liked that, didn't you? Maybe it's not ha-ha funny. But at least its witty - its definitely witty. I mean, at the very minimum, ya gotta give me 'witty' on that one.)


There are a lot of holidays in December, perhaps more than I can count. Between Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Thanksgiving, and everything else out there, it's a busy busy month. The fact is that the holidays are also a very sad time of year for many people. Did you know that the month of December has the highest suicide rate of any other month of the year? Sad, but true. In fact, one of the saddest times of December is also one of the most unrecognized holidays of the year - even Hallmark has let this one slip through the cracks. It's the National Close-The-Damn-Pool Week.

Yes, throughout the month of December, public pools around the country close down, drain out all of their water and make believe they're fixing leaks or repaving the bottoms or doing whatever they do to pools when there's no water in it. Only thing I know is that I'm not allowed to swim. The YMCA pool - where I usually swim - is now closed for the annual end of the year repairs. The Santa Monica College pool - where I often swim - is also closed for the annual end of the year "we don't feel like working" excuse. That leaves me (and Cat) with the need to find a new place to swim. We went to the Culver City pool this weekend, however not only is that too far away for a morning dip, but it's got all sorts of nasty little floatie things in it that I really don't want to swim through anymore. So what did we do? Well, like any other normal couple, we decided to capitalize on one of those "free two week membership" offers at the local hoity-toity club in town, the Sports Club LA.

Let's get a few things straight about this gym. First of all, it is called the Sports Club LA, and not, for instance, something pedestrian, like the LA Sports Club. No no... by calling it Sports Club LA it has a french, almost Perrier type feel. How fah-bulous.

Secondly, the Sports Club LA has valet parking. When I pulled up in front of the gym this morning, there were six cars there: a Porsche, three Mercedes, two BMWs and a Rolls Royce. Nice.

And the lobby? Well, it's pretty damn enormous in its own right. PLUS, it features a fully stocked juice/smoothy/breakfast bar alongside a wall of plasma TVs. I felt like I died and gone to St. Christopher's exercise facility.

The truth is, you can really tell a gym by its locker rooms. For instance, when I open the door to the locker room at the YMCA, I need to make sure it doesn't swing into some hundred year old middle eastern man muttering something in a language that has been lost for the better part of the millenium. The sounds emerging from the YMCA men's locker room are oftentimes so vile, it makes renders me sleepless for weeks.

Sports Club LA is the anti-Y. As soon as I stepped foot into the expansive, fully carpeted locker room, I was in awe. I think I even saw angels hovering around the lights as the harp music fluttered through my brain. I was immediately intercepted by one of many locker room attendants. This first gate keeper promptly asked me what section I wanted to be in. Umm...what section? I looked at him quizically. Uh... I want to be in the locker room.

He muttered something unintelligible and handed me a key to locker 537. Locker 537, I soon learned, is the worst locker in the crappiest location of the locker room. Locker 537 is where they put the new visitors who clearly will never join. When I walked up to the dark corner of locker 537, I knew right away that everybody could see I was only here for the two free weeks of membership. Regardless, I put my clothes away and got ready to swim.

As I walked to the pool I began to scout out the rest of this locker room that was about as big as the YMCA, in its entirety. There's a jacuzzi, sauna, separate shower areas - I felt like I was in the mothership that launched a network of spas. I began to look for a hidden corner where I could cuddle into after my swim and stay for weeks on end. I never wanted to leave.

Suddenly, amidst my search for a new home, I came upon a set of frosted glass doors. Wondering what was on the other side, I pulled only to find they were locked. Looking around for a way to get in, I noticed a sign that said "Private Platinum Locker Room". Huh?! I tried to look beyond the frosted glass, to find out what was so special about that part - what could possibly be better than the locker room I was standing in. As I was mid-gaze, I heard sudden throat clearing and a rather patronizing "excuse me" muttered to my right. I looked over to see one of these Private Platinum members waiting for me to get out of the way. As I took a step to the right, he punched in a number on the keypad, which unlocked the door and allowed him to walk into the private platinum locker room. As the door closed suddenly, I stood in awe. I had never seen - much less thought about - a locker room with a security keypad. What type of person do you need to be in order to have you locker covered by a security keypad. I mulled over these thoughts as I climbed the steps up to the pool.

The pool at the Sports Club LA is a special experience. First of all, their swimming lanes are built for one person. Individualized swimming lanes. As if these snotty Sports Club people couldn't possible share a lane with somebody else. Heaven forbid. Fortunately, there was enough room on the outside lane to squeeze in two people - that's where Cat and I went.

We started doing our warm up. I hadn't gone a half of a lap until I realized I was swimming faster than I ever had before - and it seemed so effortless. I touched the wall and swam back to where I started. Wow, I thought, I must've really learned to swim at some point during the booze cruise last night. I turned around to swim another lap. I was flying. Damn... suddenly I'm Michael Phelps! I saw visions of PR swims in my eyes.

After a few laps of this it all started making sense to me. The Sports Club LA pool actually has a current. As if the hoity-toity folks had to feel a bit more special, so they added a current in the pool to help them swim faster. Of course, they would only swim one way. Perhaps their chauffer would shuttle them back to the other side of the pool after every lap.

I couldn't get over it. It was like swimming in a river - one way you feel like you're paddling upstream incessantly, but when you turn around watch out - is Class V rapids.

Needless to say, we had a pretty interesting swim, Cat and I. We finished with a few laughs then went down to enjoy some time in the locker rooms before we galavanted off to work. I can't wait to go back to the Sports Club LA and see what other snobby things they have in store for me. What a fun field trip!