the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

We Will, We Will Treadmill


“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


  1. Alison

    Too bad there isn’t a Curves-type gym for men.

    And you need tunage. You want I should send you my mp3 player?

  2. Neil

    I think the nicer one has TVs overhead. But maybe I should invest in an iPod. Everyone seemed to be listening to music.

  3. Dagny

    Glad to hear someone’s going to the gym. It certainly won’t be me. Then again I walk to work everyday (about a mile each day) and spend at least 30 minutes of my workday climbing up and down stairs. I think I get enough exercise as it is. Oh, and then there’s the dancing in bars.

  4. Lorna

    First hour? FIRST HOUR? are you trying to drive us all mad?

  5. Erin

    Ugh.. I know! I went to a 24 hour fitness with my friend and it was AWFUL… everything had some sort of film on it that made me afraid to touch anything. That is why I bought a bike. I’d rather be outside anyday than next to some sweaty asshole trying to pretend like I am interested in CNN so he won’t try to talk to me. Blech…gyms suck poo. Why don’t you take up bicycling?

  6. Neil

    Unless I lug the bike all the way to the beach, where I am going to ride a bike in Los Angeles (although with the traffic, I might actually get places faster than driving)? Do you actually ride your bicycle along city streets or is it a “mountain bike?” Do you wear a helmet? Ideally, it would be nice to have a machine in the house but:

    1) I have no room for it in my apartment.

    2) I would never use it.

    I’m crossing my fingers that the next 24 Hour Fitness is a nicer one.

  7. jules

    I don’t call it a “DREAD”-mill for a reason…ugh! btw… I sing to myself when I run too! Congrats on day 1…


  8. Pearl

    You mention IPod, but do people listen to books on tape in a gym? You can work out your body and brain at the same time. WHAT A CONCEPT!

  9. Danny

    I checked out 24-Hour Fitness but didn’t like the sleazos trying to sell me a membership. Do you now get to go to any of their clubs? Don’t forget the one in Hollywood that’s in the same building as Arclight Cinemas. It’s nicer than the one on Pico and you get to reward yourself with a movie (and the best popcorn in L.A.) afterwards.

    I used to belong to the Sports Club L.A. as a perk of my old job, one of the most glitzy health clubs in L.A. where women put ON makeup to work out. On a typical day I’d be on a machine in between Dyan Cannon and Jennifer Tilly and then in the steam room with Magic Johnson and Fabio. Oy. I much prefer going to the Y downtown these days which costs less than a third of the Sports Club L.A. fees and my gym shorts from 1991 don’t look so out of place.

    For the love of God, go to the Grove tomorrow morning and get yourself an iPod–a whole new world awaits!

  10. ACG

    Luckily I have a really nice gym around the corner (12th Street Gym in Philly)… how can you beat a gym that offers cardio classed called Madonnalicious and Aqua Boogie?
    Unfortunatly I won’t be able to join till I get my bonus in July… In the mean time I take a walk down to the river and up to Rittenhouse at least twice a week (in addition to walking to work) and a little at home yoga.
    Isn’t the weather really nice out there? Why not just start walking or jogging outside?

  11. femme_despoir

    i completed my contract for the week. HA!

  12. Bre

    Depending on the gym, things can be quite different in the women’s locker room. I once spent 20 minutes in there talking about gym bags with a cute little housewife that I could have broken in half and a female bodybuilder. Proof positive that accesories bring the world together.

  13. Nelumbo

    Women are always chatting in the locker-room. But then again we always chatter.
    If you are serious about getting an iPod, I’d go for an iPod nano or another brand of mp3 player that has a flash based memory, instead of hard drive, which doesn’t skip as much when you’re on the move. Watch out iTunes are addictive. 99 cents a song!

  14. modigli

    hahah! Love the lyrics, Neil! You should record it and post it here on the blog like you did with Sophia’s song.

    ONE HOUR on the treadmill?! You ROCK! WoW! I don’t think I could do that without some kind of music to keep my energy up.

    BTW, I’m about to join a 24 hour fitness, too. I can’t beleive they don’t have A/C! That is CRAZY!

  15. modigli

    PS. Maybe Apple will offer you a free iPod the same way that Sprint gave you that free phone! It’s worth a shot, right?!

  16. plain jane

    Wow. I would have never made it an hour under those circumstances. I guess that I’m lucky that my town doesn’t have a gym.

  17. jackt

    People talk to me all the time in the men’s locker room. They take a look at my crotch and point me to the women’s locker room, figuring I got lost.

    Btw Jack Bauer doesn’t get tortured much. It’s usually him sticking the bare electrodes in someone’s chest.

    Your alternate lyrics f****n’ ROCK! LMAO!!!

  18. Mari

    HAHAHAHHAHAHAH *dies laughing*

  19. Mari

    That was about the song *NOT* your efforts to exercise- I say Bravo! to that..My experiences have been similar so far, but I’m “e-stikin’ to eet”.

  20. Fitèna

    hahahahaha! am laughing myself silly here!
    This is hilarious. Make sure you don’t miss the parking next time. If there’s a next time. Or you’ll be a few dollars lighter by the end of the month!


  21. rachh

    Well done on your first hour. Did an hour and a half with uber-hot trainer yesterday. In all fairness, can’t walk today, so failing to see the logic behind it all. Anyway gonna beat your sorry ass at this, so please can I have Zero 7 latest album.
    Thanks babe,

  22. the Yearning Heart

    My bicycle ride music and silly lyrics in my head tend toward Sgt Pepper’s:
    Good morning, Good morning, Good!
    Nothing to do but ride my bike, in the morning
    Nothing to hear but in my ear, NPR news.
    Nothing to see it’s up to me
    I’ve got nothing I like I ride my bike
    Good morning, Good morning, Good!
    Everyone is up, it’s six o’clock
    Look at all the ranchers on this block
    Coming in to breakfast from the fields
    It’s time to talk about their yields

    Lame, I know. But it is stuck in my head the whole ride.

  23. AWE

    Did you remember to get your parking ticket validated?

  24. Jo-Anne

    Hi Neil! I’ve looked at your blog even when I didn’t have mine back up again. I’m glad you found me! I guess I didn’t realize you read my old blog that much!

    I hate the gym too. I haven’t been to the gym in years. I think it’s best to just get a hobby that has exercise built-in like racquet sports or biking.

  25. wordgirl

    Good for you! You made it. Next, get an iPod.

  26. Margaret

    The idea of an entire hour on a treadmill brings me dangerously close to a panic attack.

  27. stephanie

    Invest in the Ipod. It’s key to getting through a boring workout at the gym. It’s also not bad when you’re walking outside.

  28. 3rdtimesacharm( 3T )

    I was thrilled when I would make it a whole 20 minutes on the treadmill. A WHOLE HOUR?!!?

    Congratulations Neil. You’re ambitious.


  29. Non-highlighted Heather

    I’ve always found filling a 32 oz Big Gulp with some bourbon and 7 makes the treadmill time fly by. A little Jimi Hendrix “Bold As Love” on the iPod doesn’t hurt either.

    I’ll be hitting my thrice a week yoga class today. Great music, yummy candles, cool people, and no stinking treadmills. And as annoying as the lack of A/C and ventilation can be (oxygen is usually a big plus when working out), sweating is soooo good for you. Good luck to everyone who’s taken the 2006 Neilochka Challenge.

  30. mysterygirl!

    I love your song lyrics! And I can’t believe you made it an entire hour on your first workout trip. That’s hardcore. You’re going to be sore tomorrow.

  31. ms. sizzle

    i loathe the gym for the very reasons you are sharing- it is boring! and the air smells weird! and people sweat on stuff you have to touch and don’t always wash their hands! ick!!

    those lyrics you came up with provided my first laugh of the day. thank you for that. 🙂 sizz

  32. Dagny

    Heather, thanks for the wonderful idea. I had never thought of mixing cocktails with exercise.

  33. treespotter

    he’s building a case to anull the contract. watch this space.

    i can smell it…

  34. Jenni

    LOVE the song! I do that ALL the time, make up my own lyrics to songs and it’s funny because mine are always SO much better.

    You should try the other gym. The gym that I belong to has multiple locations and the peoples crappy attitudes vary which each location. It’s all about deomgraphics. I prefer the old person gym that is mainly comprised of retired geriatric tennis players there to use the courts, pool and the elipticals

  35. Kevin

    That song is great!

    I’m sitting pretty at about 45 minutes right now. Will get in about an hour and a half tonight and some more on Friday.

  36. Scarlet

    Maybe this is supposed to be a secret but, the women’s locker room is crazy. Tons of talking and no shirts. Often no pants. Women just walk around naked having full conversations. Not me though-not after the time the maintenance man walked in on me=/

  37. Monick

    I ride my bike in the streets of LA … always with a helmet. People here have NO idea how to deal with cyclists. Here’s a site for LA area cyclists:

  38. Tatyana

    Yes, Neil,it’s exactly as you’ve suspected: we’re having orgies in girls’ locker room. You know, power drinks combined with all that overstimulation of braving the treadmill next to pheromone-emitting Tarzans…glistening bodies, in and out of showers…fluorescent lighting…hand blowers hand air dryers…it’s only natural!

    Now you know.

  39. justrun

    Congratualtions on your first workout! That’s pretty ambitious to take on an entire hour for the first one.

    Also, I’m indescribably (is that a word?) impressed by the song. All I can remember is “mud on your face, big disgrace” which is NOT good motivation for working out.

  40. eeekat

    ha!! “we will rock you”–nice touch.

  41. Peggy Archer

    I’ll second the recommendation for the Arclight club, but it’s a Sport level club which means you may have to upgrade your membership.

    I ride my bike on the streets in LA all the time and I do get places faster than driving, plus I’m not spending a fortune on gas!

    The trick is to stay off the main streets, and you’ll be fine.

  42. Leesa

    Now you have that song playing in my head, thanks 🙂
    Keep on treadin….
    Oh and get an Ipod.

  43. Neil

    Peggy — I have that Sport membership. I’m off to the Arclight tomorrow, if I don’t end up at the movies instead (non-Angelenos — there is a huge movie cineplex at the same location — dangerous, huh?)

  44. Carly

    24 Hour ain’t that great. I used to be with them and left for a variety of reasons.

    But on the pick-up tip, what you need to do is go find a woman working out with weights and tell her how she could be maximizing her exercise. This hasn’t worked on me, mind you, but guys try it on me all the time. I’m thinking it must work with some degree of success or they wouldn’t keep at it.

  45. Neil

    Carly — Good advice, but for the wrong man. I’m much more likely to ask the woman how to use some of the “circuit training” machines, akin to being the dumb man asking the woman which watermelon is ripe in the supermarket.

    How do you know which is the good watermelon, anyway?

  46. Tara

    I’m scared of gyms. And when I lived in L.A., I tried to run on the street but had to stop on account of the smog and the traffic and the aggressively creepy guys. Now I live in Iowa and I can run outside and it’s no problem…except for the fact that I have to live in Iowa. It’s a conundrum.

  47. Neil

    Tara — you’re the lucky one. You get to hang out under those romantic Bridges of Madison County.  You probably can even do chinups there!

  48. Mari

    Neil: If I am correctly remembering what I was taught- then it is by listening to the echo of the knock; listen when you knock against it with your knuckles and it if echoes, with a bit ofa hollow sound to it then you know its a good ‘un.

    I’m one of those women who like to do their own DIY, fixing their own tranport (in my case a pedal scooter, haha) etc. I love men who cook/help me to cook, and love to wash up.

    Is this a modern dichotomy? Or just natural? who cares…:)

  49. Lauren

    Hahaha. Will you come over and make up songs for me? I’ll dance.

  50. Stefanie

    At least you don’t have a lot of naked old people at your gym. At mine the locker room is like a porno version of “Cacoon.” And women shaving and even worse obviously NOT SHAVING EVER. Pure nightmare. Here’s how I get through the workout. Reading. I go through a book a week this way. If you can’t read a book try a magazine. One more thing, why do all Jewish men have a thing for Asian chicks?

  51. better safe than sorry

    in the women’s locker room, we help each other get dressed and undressed, massaging oil into each other’s skin after the mass showers.

  52. Tanya

    1. I also always claim locker 69.
    2. Of course no one talks to one another in the gym, you are there to WORK.

  53. Erin

    God, I totally forgot what a nightmare L.A. can be. Denver is very spectacular in that respect. It has more bike trails per square mile than any other city in the U.S. (or something like that)There is a trail that runs parallel with the “Cherry Creek” which is a small river that runs right through the middle of town and you can take a lovely ride on it and bypass all the traffic. Too bad about the biking though… guys who bike generally have terrific asses.

  54. Rabbit

    I’m too poor to join a gym. Which is fine, because when I exercise at home there’s no one around to see how many times I fall off the step and give myself aerobics-related injuries.

  55. akaky

    The thing of it is, reading this sort of thing, I cant help but think that God is an infinite hamster and the treadmill is His joke on humans.

  56. Neil

    I knew the women’s locker room was totally different! But I’m feeling energetic know from my one workout. I’m going to be friendly tomorrow.

    “Hey there, guy at locker 68! How ya doin?  Where do you get your boxer-briefs?  I hear they have a sale at Nordstrom? Would you like to check it out after our workout?”

    And Stefanie — I’m not obsessed with Asian woman. I know they are as big pains in the asses as Jewish woman. They just hide it better with their sly, “I know the secrets of the Orient” looks as they massage your feet. Ask Sarah And they’re better than most Jewish women in math.

    Hey, it worked for Woody!

  57. plain jane

    Ok, I got tired just thinking about committing to the contract, but now I feel left out. I have bad knees but I will find a workout tape that is easy on the knees. I’m in!

    Very generous of you to offer to humiliate me on YOUR blog–what a guy.

  58. claire

    Way to go, Neil! I’ve never been a gym person for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, but I hope you find one you like.

  59. anne arkham

    I loved this: 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.

  60. Non-highlighted Heather

    Dropping it. If it bounces, it’s a keeper. The watermelon, I mean.

  61. The Moviequill

    when I am undressing in the lockerrom I love to yell out “holy shit, look at the size of that!”, and then when everyone freezes, pull out my old cellphone

  62. Jack

    I hate that 24 hour fitness. It was always too crowded.

  63. Mike F

    Neil, it’s your duty to find the stupid post and link to it.

    I loved that line too.

  64. bettyonthebeach

    You’re sooo right! I have gym phobia because I always think people will stare at me, but they don’t. No one talks at all.
    I struck up a conversation with a woman in the locker room after a class we both took and said, “Was it just me, or was that the worst class you’ve ever taken at this gym?” EVERYONE in the locker room whipped their heads around and stared at me as if I’d broken some kind of “No Talk” rule. It was weird.

  65. Cindy

    I once had a conversation with the actress Courtney Thorne-Smith while she was nude in the locker room.

    I’m not a lesbian, but at the same time it was kind of cool being able to say that I have had a conversation with a well known actress while she was nude. Not to mention she is in awesome shape, and I can still appreciate a beautiful body even if it is another woman’s!

  66. Mary

    If I had a body like Courtney Thorne-Smith I would never wear clothes, ever!

  67. dan

    I’ve been to most of the 24 hour fitness clubs in eastern LA county. I’ve found them to be nicer and friendlier than any of the ones near LA.

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