“Parking is upstairs,” shouted the parking attendant at the 24 Hour Fitness on Pico Blvd.

I drove up this tight, curving ramp to the second floor.

“Where ya goin’?” asked a second attendant.

“24 Hour Fitness.”

“Parking is downstairs.”

“He told me to come upstairs.”

“Did you tell him ’24 Hour Fitness?'”

“Uh, I don’t remember. Maybe.”

“Parking for 24 Hour Fitness is downstairs.”

I looked behind me. The ramp only went one-way and I was blocking traffic.

“Well, how do I get down there now?”

“You’ll need to exit and come back in.”

I drove down the a ramp marked “Exit.” I was stopped at the booth by a third attendant. I handed him the card that came out of the machine when I first entered a few minutes ago.

“I went upstairs by mistake, so I’m going to go out and come back in again.”

“That’ll be three dollars.”

“Huh? I haven’t left my car yet. I just went the wrong way. I’m going to go to 24 Hour Fitness. It’s my first time.”

“You’re supposed to validate this at 24 Hour Fitness, otherwise I have to charge you.”

“I haven’t gone to 24 Hour Fitness yet! I haven’t left my car! I just came in a minute ago.”

The attendant took another bite of his Big Mac and sighed.

“OK, I’ll let you through, but just this time. Next time, make sure you get validated first.”

I was already regretting this whole exercise idea.

I finally made it inside 24 Hour Fitness. It looked nothing like the shiny gym they show on TV. It was an older location, with no TVs and (is it possible?) no air-conditioning. The place was hot and smelly. My first stop was the locker room, where I took locker ’69’ — so I’ll remember where it was. Ok, I also thought it was funny.

Now, I know in the men’s locker room, we’re a bunch of men undressing next to each other, and the situation is a bit vulnerable, but doesn’t ANYONE ever say a word to each other in the men’s locker room? Not one guy gave another guy a nod, a hello, or even a “how ya doin?” Is it different in the women’s locker room?

By the way, I purposely wore my boxer-briefs rather than my usual white briefs, so as to not embarrass any of my readers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, search for it in the archives, because I’m not linking to that stupid post again.

The gym was as unfriendly as the locker room. I understand that people are here to exercise and get the hell out, but no one seemed to acknowledge anyone’s existence. It felt like I was back in my apartment building elevator, with everyone glancing up at the clicking floor numbers, afraid of looking at each other. I’ve always heard rumors of the gym being a good “pick-up” spot?  Urban legend.  No one talks to anyone!  If you’ve ever been self-conscious about going to the gym, forget about it. No one gives a damn if you’re there or not!

I decided to take things slow for my first time there. I would just use the treadmill for an hour. There was also some type of Nordic Tracker-looking thing available, but I couldn’t figure out how to use it. So, I stuck with the treadmill. I took the only empty treadmill, at the end of the “treadmill row,” right next to some cute Asian woman in a red “Dell Computer 2001 Softball Team” t-shirt. She never looked my way.

Once on the treadmill, I played with the nifty buttons, and decided to go for the Manual settings. There was some contraption connected to the machine which supposedly measured your heart beat, but frankly, it looked like something used to torture Jack Bauer on “24.”

My hour began. The air was rancid (it seemed to be recycled air, like in an airplane) and there were two large fans blowing in the faces of everyone on “Treadmill Row.” I know that exercising is good for my cardiovascular system, but I was beginning to wonder if I could die from a respiratory infection from exercising in THIS gym. Next time, I’ll go to the nicer “Sport” gym in West Hollywood.

I don’t have an iPod to listen to, so I just spaced out. After what seemed like an hour of walking, I looked down and saw that I had only been on the treadmill for fifteen minutes. So, this is what they meant on Star Trek about a break in the space/time continuum. I was bored. I decided to sing something to myself. Something inspirational to keep me going, like:

We will we will
Rock you!
We will we will
Rock you!

And then, just as I got to the main lyrics of this Queen song, I couldn’t remember them. It was as if the exercise was affecting my brain. I remembered the catchy melody from countless Laker games, but what were the words? So, I spend the next few minutes coming up with alternative lyrics:

Buddy, gotta tread, gotta keep on
Movin’ in the gym cause ya promised them on your blog
This is boring as hell
I almost just fell
Smiling at the girl who once worked at Dell

We will we will
Rock you!
We will we will
Rock you!

And singing this over and over again amused me enough to make it through my first hour of exercise.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Drug for Premature Ejaculation