The place I can be found most often (besides my house) is the gym. Which makes me sound like some kind of fitness buff, which is just wrong, wrong, wrong. But I'm there a lot--three or four times a week, and occasionally more. I always find it amusing that my gym is housed in a mall called "Hazard Center." Apparently, there's a guy named Hazard who funded a lot of San Diego, but to me it's just descriptive. There are a lot of hazards at the gym, and I have lots of controlling little ways to avoid them.
1. I get my ID out as I approach the door. Not because it saves me time, but in order to avoid smiling, making eye contact, or otherwise engaging in any way with the teenager behind the desk. One quick glance to assess whether they are offering any promotional freebies (located in a basket just above the card reader) and I can swoop straight into the locker room.
2. I choose a locker in the back corner, near the lone chair that's always there. That way, I am less likely to have to jostle anyone passing through to the bathroom. And later, I have a perch to put on my socks. I check my hair, grimace, plaster down some unruly bits with a bit of water, and then head out. I approach the door slowly because I've been bonked before by people coming in.
3. I take a drink of water, but let the fountain run for a bit before putting my mouth down there, in some kind of misguided attempt at hygiene. Then I grab an orange workout towel, always eyeballing the entire stack before choosing one that has a particularly puffy-looking loop.
4. I survey the machines, assessing which elliptical trainer has the least: fan blasts, proximity to fluorescent lights, glare from the window, nearness to sweaty people. After settling in, I...
5. ...turn on the TV control to test for wonky headphone connection. If it's below standards, I move. If it passes, I set up my i-Pod (for musical interludes during ads) and...
6. ...adjust the incline to 10 and the resistance to 2. In the first three minutes, I will raise the resistance one level each minute. After three minutes, I pedal backwards for one minute. And so on. This highly elaborate regimen sometimes interferes with my admiration of a kick pleat or two on Project Runway.
7. For the next 30 minutes, I do a combo of elliptical and treadmill, but I usually do the elliptical first. On days when I feel really wild, I start with the treadmill. It's a real buzz to mix it up like that.
8. I do about six weight machines, during which I make a combined effort to watch my form, glower at people who are taking too long on the machine I want, and bug my eyes at people I have decided are standing too close to me for no reason at all except they happen to be talking right there.
9. During my stretch, I lay down on the mat with the same two consecutive thoughts each time: 1) This mat is probably a festival of germs, and 2) When did I become so fastidious? A few germs won't kill me.
10. My apres-workout shower is an elaborate and precise dance. First I wedge my gym bag onto the narrow bench next to the shower (it generally falls a few times), yank the curtain just so to conceal my feminine wiles, arrange my hair products, and finally--after the wet part--drop the aforementioned orange towel onto the floor in a practiced gesture (like throwing a pizza) so that it becomes an anti-fungal bath mat on which I conduct all my ablutions and emerge from behind the curtain fully dressed, lotioned, powdered, deoderized and combed.
11. While retrieving my remaining belongings from my locker, I cringe in anticipation of the woman who will attempt to open the locker right next to mine while commenting, "It's just Murphy's Law, isn't it?" And it always comes. Different woman. Same comment. Every time.
Clearly, I'm not the only one with "gym OCD." Readers? Care to share?