Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Weight Room

I used to lift weights three mornings a week at Hotel Minsk's little fitness club. Membership didn't cost much and the hall had an adequate suite of equipment given the price, clean showers, friendly fellow members and a pleasant staff. I liked it.

While we were away, unfortunately, the hotel sold the sports facility to an outside investor who apparently didn't make enough money from people like me. The new owner jacked up prices to a whopping four dollars per visit and cleared out most of the big equipment. I kept coming back anyway because I could get by with the remaining dumbbells and barbells and I didn't really know where else to go. I missed the former members, however. Nobody seemed willing to put up with the scaled-back hall, and with only one bench the hall wouldn't really support more than one person at a time anyway.

I finally went out for a walk and investigated other facilities near home. Happily, I discovered that the professional hockey compound in the park near our apartment includes an excellent weight room. I bought my membership from Violetta who usually works at the front window, occasionally leads aerobics classes and always radiates sunlight. When I went in for my first workout I met Dima, one of two trainers. I told Dima that I had some idea what I was doing but asked him to stop me if he saw me doing anything improperly. He's been very helpful already, and I suspect he has lots more to show me in the coming weeks.

Then there's the hockey team. They work out before the hall opens to the public, and they occasionally pass through again while I'm there. Generally they seem almost as sunny as Violetta, though incredibly disciplined. Sometimes they spread themselves out all over the floor to stretch out before they disappear somewhere into the facility. Now I know why I'm not very flexible: They hold each stretch several times longer than I hold any of mine. I may have to ask Dima to help me with that, but since it looks painful maybe I'll wait until next week. Or the week after.

Every time I go to work out there it puts a big smile on my face, and all this pleasure costs about three dollars a visit. I'm so excited I'm going to give them a wall clock as a gift. It's about the only thing they're missing.

I don't feel like I know the members and staff well enough yet to take pictures, so I've attached a couple of professional photos from the Web. You don't get to see the staff, but at least you can see the facility. Hotel Minsk never held a candle to this place.

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