Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mexican Muscle

The Bitter Old Queen is spending the month in Guadalajara, Mexico. Here is another article based on my experiences here.

I joined the Olympia Gym in the fashionable Minerva section of Guadalajara not far from my rented condo. The Olympia Gym is anything but fashionable. You enter beneath a set of Olympic rings (apparently the long legal arm of the International Olympic Federation either doesn’t reach, or can’t be bothered to reach, this far into Mexico) and pass beneath a huge replica of a barbell.

The interior is dimly lit. The walls are covered by discolored and cracked mirrors and faded posters of Arnold Schwzenager and Lou Ferrigno, aka The Incredible Hulk – green version, when they were twenty. One of the posters is signed by The Hulk himself. The equipment is ancient. It wobbles and screeches when used. The pins used to set the weight have long disappeared to be replaced by old bolts and broken screw drivers. The floors are covered by ratty carpet, the color of which defies description, and the whole place has a strange aroma of mildew, disinfectant, and body sweat. Strong, virile body sweat.

There are some serious body builders at the Olympia Gym. They load unbelievable amounts of weight onto the barbells and grunt, and roar, and cheer each other on, as they look to Arnold, Lou, and the others for inspiration. If you ignore the deterioration of the facilities, it’s as if the last forty years never happened.

The most striking difference between this gym and those back home is in the locker room. It isn’t pretty. No ceramic tile floors, inlaid woodwork, blow driers or complimentary toiletries here. Most of all, you can leave your modesty at home. Guys just peal their clothes off and walk naked into the common shower whereas at my New York gym the men have mastered the technique of undressing and dressing while keeping a towel securely cinched around the waist.

I like the Olympia Gym. It isn’t gay, at least not that I have noticed, but everyone is friendly. Some of the boys like to practice their English with me. My muscles are very stiff and sore today so I guess it is serving its purpose. I’m looking forward to going back tomorrow.

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