CAMP Fitness: Go West Young Man
by Rick Moore
This column is supposed to be about all the benefits of being fit. But I have finally found one of the drawbacks. If you work out and get big, they just don't make airline seats wide enough. All the airlines brag about "more room in coach," but they mean knee room front-to-back, not shoulder room side-to-side!
Dave and I were shoe-horned into our seats for a six-and-a-half hour plane ride to the west coast. Now, we are not the biggest guys on the planet, but there has to be a better way (Dave's idea: first class next time!). Our shoulders overlapped each other. I now know how it feels to be fitted for a coffin.
Anyway, our week-long jaunt was full of adventure. We got to work out at a different gym every day, and to experience what's left of the west coast fitness craze. For some reason, there seemed to be more fat, out-of-shape people hanging around LA than we could shake a stick at. Is Southern California becoming as soft and flabby as the rest of the nation?
We rented a new 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, bright red with mag wheels, sunroof and leather interior. Hey, we paid the big bucks because we were on vacation, and I'm glad we did. Everywhere we went, we were asked, "What kind of car is that?" "How much did it cost?" It attracted a lot of attention.
We stayed in Santa Monica. It is so central to everything we love, the beaches, shopping, Venice, gyms, and the restaurants where we can chow-down. Being across the street from those Pacific Ocean Breezes really soothes the soul. Ah, vacation. We should do this more often. Having been up since 2:00 a.m. that day, it was time to eat. We downed a large pizza, salad, and meatball sub, but skipped the dessert (too many empty calories!)
Our plans were to hit the fabulous Getty Museum one day (an all day quest) and check out the big gyms in Venice Beach. They are supposedly where all the top name bodybuilders work out. I was really psyched!
The Getty Museum is phenomenal. Cost was no object when they built this hilltop museum that overlooks the LA basin for 15 miles to Catalina Island. It should be on the list of Wonders of the World. The architecture is a feast for the eyes and the gardens play with all your senses. The views are truly breathtaking. I got my first sunburn of the season here. It was the highlight of the trip and a must-see for anyone visiting the LA area.
That night, I was really looking forward to going to one of the top gyms in Venice Beach. We went when the huge gym was pretty busy. Probably 300 or more people were inside working out. I thought the $15.00 fee was a bit steep but, hey, this is the place to be. Yes, there were some "big boys" there. Craig Tutus was next to us posing in the mirror, and David Paul (remember the "Barbarians?") was also working out.
But overall, boy, was I disappointed! I guess I expected too much. It was a huge warehouse with no windows, no air conditioning on an 80 degree day, and it really lacked cleanliness. The equipment was spread haphazardly around the entire complex. Much of our time was spent looking for a specific machine.
The staff seemed to be more interested in just hanging around the office rather than being on the floor offering help or cleaning up. Sorry, I've been to better places for less money.
The next day, we were off to Santa Monica Beach for a little sun and sand. In comparison, we should be very proud of our Delaware beaches. They're the whitest, cleanest, most well-kept beaches we've seen anywhere in the world.
California sand is a lot darker and courser than ours, and the atmosphere is a lot wilder with all the skateboards and bikes whizzing by.
That night, we went to another gym in Marina Del Rey. It was a much nicer, cleaner place than the first one, with skylights and windows, and a nice layout. It was not crowded but there were no big-name bodybuilders to be seen. Damn it!
Our next stop was San Francisco. Dave routinely threatens to move me, the cats, and the dog out there, but I ignore him when he talks like that and he eventually stops. It is our recurring argument #23"Moving to San Francisco." Anyone with a partner knows you just have to get past those issues. You say, "Yes, honey" and nod a lot, without committing to anything.
From a fitness standpoint, San Francisco seems to be much better off. The people are better cared-for. The city has a much different feel than LA, and the attitudes are different, too.
Dave introduced me to one of his old friends, back from the days when he was flying 60,000 miles per year for work. We all went to the hottest gym in town, and this time, even my high quality standards were exceeded. I was admiring the sights (I was looking only at the equipmentand not THAT equipment, I can assure you) while Dave was busy pointing out all the men whose pictures he had surfed on the Internet. "I've chatted with him, his picture is on musclebears-dot-com." So much eye candy, so little time.
And in the blink of an eye, our vacation was over. I don't want to wait until next year to do it again.
Rick Moore is a personal trainer certified by American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Visit his club, Rick's Fitness & Health in Milton. He's on the Internet at http://www.ricksfitness.net, or cal 302-684-3669.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 10, No. 5, May 19, 2000