Sunday, June 27, 2010

More California Fitness

In the hope of continuing the entente cordiale between our two nations, I went for lunch with a German lady at a restaurant in Wan Chai; and since the Brits had monopolised this island for over a century, it was only fair that we went to King Ludwig's for some German food.  (Well, sort of: she looked very askance indeed at schnitzel made from veal rather than pork, so maybe it wasn't that German, and everything was made of meat, so there wasn't much for me to eat - neither German nor food.)

Eventually I got some potato cakes and a non-alcoholic mojito - well, I was already high on a mix of sleep deprivation and command-line shenanigans.  The more I think on it, the less clear it is to me why a German restaurant would be serving non-alcoholic drinks that originated in Cuba, but it's best not to question these things too deeply.  Instead, I strolled off into the rainstorm that Hong Kong has been all weekend, and went to the gym.

California Fitness seem to have branches wherever I go, which is jolly convenient, although each one is laid out differently to the others.  Central has a boxing ring on the ground floor, then cardio equipment on the first floor, Large Heavy Weights above that, and a room for tiny women to do boxercise or tae bo above that.  Perhaps it would have had more sense to put the heaviest stuff at the bottom and the lightest at the top - otherwise maybe the gym risks falling over in high winds.

California Fitness Causeway Bay is easier to understand; everything is on one floor, apart from the changing rooms, which are hidden deep below, presided over by a confusingly irate woman who performs the twin roles of towel-wallah and guardian to the rooms-of-changing.  A friend told me some rumours about strange goings-on in the gym, but nothing strange has ever happened to me, so we'll not say anything more there.

California Fitness Wan Chai is just ... confusing.  It's next door to the smallest Marks & Spencers in Hong Kong (about half the size of the M&S in Charing Cross station, for anybody in the UK), and seems to be laid out vertically, with lots of strange partitions in between different parts of each room.  This meant that I spent ten minutes wandering around in confusion trying to find the rowing machine - not so efficient.  Also, the machines aren't as up-to-date as those in Central or Causeway Bay; the general feel is that they're all a bit older and worn down than the latest shiny stuff in the middle of town.

Then again, the showers are the nicest of the three; they're not tiled in black like in Central, so it doesn't feel like you're preparing for a funeral while you're washing yourself off, and the sinks are fashionable.  Well, fashionable if we had taken a time machine back to 2003, because the whole sink is just a big glass shelf that the water vanishes behind.  Not much else to say about the facilities; pretty empty when I was there, apart from a middle aged Chinese man in slacks and a polo shirt, who sat next to me on the exercise bikes, pedalled like mad for five minutes and then wandered away again.  Then again, Sunday afternoon is unlikely to be peak time to go raise a sweat in Wan Chai.

I'll leave it up to you to make your own joke about that.

I had a fairly good workout - I began to suspect that the running machines are calibrated differently at each gym, because 14 km/h felt a lot easier than 12 does in Causeway Bay sometimes - but perhaps it was that non-alcoholic mojito kicking in.  Anyway, I managed 4 k in 20 minutes, including a couple of times where I got up to 14 km/h (thank you Iron Maiden for your assistance), then lost it trying to row and only managed 2k and 10 minutes, and rounded it off with another 10 minutes on the bike, before going to Times Square to buy some scales to see how fat / thin I am.

The other difference to the other branches is the view you get from the running machines: because they're on the same level as the raised walkway through Wan Chai, you can see people walking through.  Or a lonely missionary in a suit, trying to stop people and give them the good news.  I watched him for twenty minutes while I tried to distract myself from the pain and misery of running, and he kept trying to stop passers-by and give them a card, and got ignored most of the time.  Maybe he wasn't a missionary.  The mormons tend to be a bit more persistent, and they're also not usually Chinese.  Unless they're trying to proselytise me in Triple O's, but that was a long time ago.  And he was wearing a black suit (not practical in Hong Kong weather) when really, any person with religious views who wants to gain converts, should be dressed in a sandwich board reading The End Is NIGH and shouting at people with a loud hailer.

Honestly, some people just don't know how to do it right.  If I'd had any conscious mind left after the gym, I would have accosted him myself and told him as much, but perhaps fortunately I was by then a broken man, so I fled.  Next time I hope to give him the courage of his convictions.


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