Old people at the gym, especially old women, are a big nuisance. They’re probably really nice grandmothers to their grandchildren, but at the gym they turn into annoying monsters. It starts even before we enter the gym. During the week the gym opens at 10 AM, way too late, so just before opening the steps leading up to the entrance are crawling with old people, mostly women. Just waiting for the doors to open is hard, because more old women keep arriving and start to push past you just to get closer to the door, sometimes some of them are actually pressed up to it. That is already frustrating, but it gets worse when the doors open, these old women actually start to push in and race for the member card scanner and cutting in line and almost running over each other on the stairs. It’s a mystery to me why this behavior is necessary, but maybe the first person to enter the workout area gets an award or something? I try to avoid this pushing match as much as I can, by arriving a little after 10, but sometimes I have to return a DVD before 10 at the rental store which is only 10 seconds away from the gym. What do these women do when they arrive at the gym anyway? Well, of course they work out, but they’re also there to kill time. They have extended picnics (they bring lots of food from home) in the vending machine room, where they catch up on their TV shows and gossip, enjoy relaxing hours in the massage chairs or walking (not swimming) through the pool filled with close-to-body-temperature water. These things aren’t bothering me and they pay a lot of money to be a member of Cospa, so it’s their right to spend time at the expensive gym. But when it gets annoying is when they have extended chat sessions while hovering around and sitting on machines they’ve finished using 10 minutes ago, making it impossible for other people to use them. And when they speak ten words of English and start following me around trying to practice it on me and eating up my precious 50 minutes at the gym every morning. I’m there to work out not to chat, but I can’t even make that clear to them, so I end up closing my eyes a lot during my workout to ignore them, because the second you make eye contact (even unintended) with one of them they come over and start talking even though they can see you’re listening to your iPod.
The most vicious women have already pushed themselves inside at this point, it goes fast, too fast to capture on camera.
I don’t speak Japanese and I don’t understand Japanese, still I always go to steps class and participate by concentrating on the teacher’s legs and copying her movements. Which requires a lot of concentration and an almost constant visual of the teacher. Usually the lessons are easy (bordering boring), but sometimes they’re a bit more challenging and therefore a lot more fun. Today’s class was very promising, fun-wise, if it hadn’t been for that infuriating old woman who kept making very loud and distracting sounds with every move we made. I’ve hear these sounds before, an old guy used to do it during aerobics, before the class got cancelled, but not as often as this old woman and it also reminds me of the yell the guys used to make during karate practice, like an deep “oow”, the sound coming from one’s stomach. In karate the teacher told us to do that (I hated doing it) to become more powerful and it was also a to psyche your opponent. But we weren’t fighting in steps class today, so there was no need to psyche your fellow steppers out, yet that is exactly what she did. With every loud gorilla sound she uttered, I automatically glanced at the source of the irritating shouts, thereby breaking my concentration and visual of the teacher, and the person in my sight now wasn’t even doing the steps right (maybe that’s why she was making these ugly sounds). In the end, my whole mind was occupied with trying to ignore the awful growls coming out of her throat, which of course made them only more audible to me. This torment was detrimental to my enjoyment of the otherwise pleasurable steps class. I’m thinking about getting earplugs for next class, just in case Gorilla Granny comes again next week.