I often find myself comparing the life I lived in NY or anywhere in the US with that I now live in Salta. Food, people, places and the general way of life, nothing is the quite the same. It would be easy to assign a better-or-worse value, but that is a matter of preference. Mostly, I try to enjoy or laugh with whatever differences exist.
One particular place gets me every time: The Gym. (Yes)!
Enter LA Fitness in Atlanta, and you see all these people who are really into their fitness routines. I mean, really involved. They move back and forth the length of the building walking these fantastic fitness walks. Squatting, duck-waddling, lunge-and-leap-lunge-and-leap. The noises they make to go with their ministry of silly walks astounds as well.
Once, I entered one of an empty room -- where kickboxing and sculpting classes are usually held – to do a bit of yoga as a post workout stretch and found a man leaping into the air, turning around all the while making yelping-hawk-like sounds. He didn’t hear me come in because he had his walkman dialed up to 11.
Actually, everything is turned up to 11 here. Men and women, ripped from stem to stern, shoving, heaving and sweating their way through three hour workouts. Then there’s me. I go in, run, walk or ellipt, do a few machines, stretch and done.
Skip forward to me at the gym in Salta.
I walk in, go straight to the treadmill. I only use the one second from the left of a row of four because it’s the only one that works and has a place to hold my water bottle. The others? Let’s just say, Salta is the first place I’ve seen people lounging strategically places tables with chairs while sipping coffee from dainty white ceramic espresso cups and chatting. Lots of chatting.
I’m the only one who runs. Everyone else walks – ok, occasionally you’ll find a man running, but never the women. I’m also the only one who sweats.
Then, onto the muscle machines, that would be strength training equipment in the US and in Salta? I believe it is called musculation. Yes, musculation. I love the word. SO much so, that I haven’t actually bothered to clarify the meaning. All I know is all these men and women come to the gym for musculation. Were I to divine definition from context, though, that would mean hanging out on the equipment and more chatting.
They help you stretch and musculate.
There are two men who work there helping people use the machines and configure their workouts. One, Mauritzio, is solid muscle. I know this because it’s customary to hug and kiss on greeting. Even the men. It’s something I love about Argentina. You feel at home the moment you meet someone, but it certainly takes on a different edge when you’re covered in sweat.
He and the other man will also help you stretch out after your work out. Of course, it’s really only the women who seem to take them up on their offer. Maybe that’s the meaning of musculation?
Here, in this world, I’m the nutty, muscle-clad crazy person sweating and pushing hard.
Soon, though, we’ll move to the house we just rented in the country. There, I’ll be able to run on a dirt path past cows and horses. I’d like to get a bike to ride into town and all around.
Yep, it’s a different world.
Photo courtesy of RightIndex's Flickrstream