Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Inside the Fitness Shtetl

Sometimes, I feel bad for my feet. They are creamy, pretty, and small and they are trapped below an oaf of a woman. Sworn for life to drag her around- upholding the brunt of her body weight. It makes me feel sad for them.

For many reasons, besides my feet, I'm back at the gym again. Yes, I've done this before. I'm pretty generic. The weird part about the gym is that I actually like it. I forget that I like it. I've never stopped going to the gym because I hate it; I've stopped going because I get sucked into it. Like this morning, I got there at 8 and I didn't walk out the door until 10! Why can't I just jump on the elliptical for a half-hour, get off, and get on with my day. Instead, I find myself lost in my music (nothing makes me work harder than the Glee version of Teenage Dream), lost in conversation with JCC employees, other moms, or my rabbi friend. (I'm such a name dropper). While I puff away, I'm saying no to chairing another committee or discussing how to best advertise our next Israel speaker. I ran into three other board members. In short, I work out in a shtetl. Whoever says that Shtetl life isn't alive and well doesn't spend their days in and around my JCC. I run into Jews in the grocery store, Target, and as most of you know, my favorite coffee shop/office, and now, of course, the gym.

I've been at the JCC gym on and off for 8 years. No matter when I go, I'm harassed by the Hadassah Lady. Just imagine a tiny lady with a high pitched Philly accent—"Come on dear, just join there's a special you know." There always seems to be a special: $ 36 for three years, a $100 for life. There is no real reason not for me to join—well, accept for the fact that, at this point, I have no intention of being active. However, last night, as she pushed away at the elliptical next to me, she shrieks, "It's just a 100 dollars. I know you have an extra 100 dollars." Her skinny exasperated face looks at me with earnest. "Actually, Hadassah Lady, I don't have an extra hundred dollars."

"But, but…" She interjects, clearly a bit embarrassed. "Wait, didn't you say that your mom would help you pay?" Of course, at some point, years ago, I did tell her that. She's clung to this fact, and now she is using it against me. "Why don't you just talk to her?" She cocks her head in an attempt to look sweet and caring. I get off the machine and walk over to the spray bottle and paper towels. As I'm spraying my paper towel, I hear Hadassah screaming my name at the top of her lungs from across the gym. "You know dear… "Mind you, I'm still across the very crowded room filled (for once) with people with real jobs, whom I've never seen before. "When I was young, I didn't have an extra hundred dollars either." Thanks, thanks Hadassah Lady for screaming that out for everyone to hear. What I really wanted to say at this point was that it wasn't that I didn't have the extra hundred dollars; I just wasn't going to spend an extra hundred dollars on Hadassah. I wanted to walk out of the gym, far far away from Her, but I had to clean off my machine. So, I trotted back over, trying my best to hold my tongue. She smiles down at me with kindness? Condescension? Manipulation? Then, she opens her mouth one more time, "It is so nice that you are at the gym again. You have such a gorgeous husband and such a pretty face. Won't it be great when your body matches it?"

If anyone ever asks how I can chair a committee on Israel, but refuse to join Hadassah, it's because I'm poor and fat.


  1. I love you! This is the best post yet! I actually laughed out loud!

  2. And true to our life in the Shetl, I can picture the person you were talking to.... and may I suggest "Sexy Bitch" as another great workout song...

  3. I almost didn't post this because she'll find out. However...I don't really care.

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