There is a buzz going around Granada about the new gym in town. Two stories of air-conditioned glory rising up from a vacant lot in the historic center. It is rumored that it will be first-rate: expensive memberships, brand new equipment coming on a slow boat from China, a sauna, and who knows (these are rumors mind you), maybe even multiple bathrooms?
I know, I know, I know. It’s good for Granada. I am all in favor of competition and there is room for everyone. But I intend to stay loyal to Junior’s Gym, where the fundamentals still rule and honest results trump all other distractions.
Okay, yeah. Junior’s has got some issues. The whole place is a freakin liability, right?
Weaving your way through the passages laid with uneven tile where weights and metal bars protrude out into your step is part of a survival strategy to not end up on the floor or with a tender shin injury (you learn this inevitably the hard way).
The equipment itself looks like it was purchased during the Reagan Administration (trust me that none of it requires a plug, either you can lift it or or it ain’t going anywhere). And the cleaning lady, God love her, is always sweeping up fine dust or pouring floor chemicals just about two feet from where you are working your set.
However…it’s the best. Junior’s Gym rocks (literally I do love the great pumping club music). But more so, because when you take away all the bells and whistles of any location, all you are left with is you. Either you’re cutting it or you’re faking it and the truth is you don’t need much to keep it real. The proof is in your results. Look in the mirror.
I remember as a kid loving the Rocky movies (gonna fly now…). The greatness of watching Sylvester Stallone get in shape was watching him work the ghetto. The meat packing plant. The junk yard. The streets of Philadelphia. I loved the basic equipment: punching bags, jump ropes and medicine balls, and THE PAVEMENT. No frills, total results.
And somehow, even though I know that is a movie, the ghetto workout speaks to me like a whole fitness outlook. I am blessed with two trainers (that don’t look anything like Paulie or Mickey), but Chris and Bertina (despite looking way better than their Hollywood versions) manage a similar no frills workout with a focused, minimalist approach that yields fruit.
When Chris takes us out into the street with a lifting bar and has us deep lunge walk down Calle Xalteva like we have rifles over our heads, do you wonder if I am going to feel it? When we do prison squats with our hands behind our heads, “ass to the grass”, do you need to ask if I am going to see it back home, right there, where it counts?
As we do arm curls with free weights, either I commit to the entire motion range from thigh to chest and tiny triceps muscles start to shake confronting resistance or I am wasting my time. My trainers teach disciplined motion to feel this essential resistance in order to build muscle. There is a simple truth to that method and it is as ‘unfancy’ as the gym where they apply it. But it works. And that’s why I am there. I don’t want to just say I go to the gym, or I train, or workout. I want to be stronger, I want to be curvier, I want to live longer, live better. I want real results. I want simple truth.
I think it’s great that there is going to be a new gym in town. It looks beautiful and it’s good for the image of Granada. Competition keeps everyone on their toes. It’s been noticed that Junior’s has already made a few improvements perhaps in anticipation of the new gym opening: leveling out the floor in the weights section and sprucing up a smoothie bar are nice touches.
But hey, don’t feel you have to get all gussied up on my account. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.