The gym is called The Sa.nctua.ry. The name itself probably suffices to convey this health club's poshness inherent. Smiling staff, understated decor, soft jazz tones playing throughout (except in the spinning studio but I'll come to that... will I EVER come to that), flattering lighting, row upon row of gleaming equipment ostensibly never having been sweat upon despite the impossibly-thin, spandex clad bodies gyrating upon them proving otherwise. Indoor track (255 m), endless, fluffy towels, restaurant with complicated menu, daycare with reams of toys, large showers with ample hot water and amazing water pressure and a selection of hair and skin care products... quintessential lap of work-out luxury. I was invited for the day by a friend who is a member (who also kindly gave me a two week pass), I didn't looking into pricing, let's just say that my vague and unresearched understanding is that there is a 3-figure fee just to sign up, then the obscene monthly fee plus one's left kidney if you break your contract early. I didn't bother to ask because I know I am not willing to pay.
I have worked out in probably upwards of 30 work-out facilities in my 25+ years as a quasi-serious athlete. This was a totally novel experience. This place is so posh, I am surprised you cannot hire someone to go and do your work-out for you! Let's start with spin class, novel experience heaped upon novel experience. My first spin class ever. The pounding music and flashing lights could not have contrasted anymore with the zen-like feeling of the rest of "The Sanc.tua.ry". How do I describe it? Let's start with, and I realize that the following says way more about me and my self-absorption than it does about the gym but here we go, I was the fattest person in the room. My ego is SO not used to that. I am not talking fat as in my 6 months of pregnant belly fat... I am talking PPC not pregnant still would have been the fattest person in the room. I am not fat. When not pregnant I weight btwn 125-130 lbs (5'8"). I have some arm flab, a little roll on my tummy and yes, cellulite and sure, I would prefer that cellulite to not be there but that cellulite was along for the ride on a 2:54 Boston Marathon, that cellulite clung to my thighs as they ran 17:30 for 5 km. It's pretty functional cellulite. The bodies in that spin room were... perfect. Male bodies, female bodies, teenage bodies, not-so-teenage bodies... all uniformly lean, toned and beautiful. Like I say, I am not used to being the fattest person in the room, it was a little strange and yes, I hate to admit it, ego bruising. Then the clothes and the gear... oh the gear... I was definitely the only luddite actually checking their pulse using something as dated as the index-finger-to-the-carotoid method. And somehow I managed to be under-dressed... in a spin class. I am trying to figure out how that is even possible.
The work-out itself. Wow. I have not worked that hard on a bike since... ever. I have never worked that hard on a bike before. I think the ambiance of the room is precisely designed to cut one off from all biofeedback (perhaps that is why everyone around me has heart rate measuring capabilities) the pounding music made it impossible to hear the sound of my own breathing, the dark, cool, small room combined with the night club flashing lighting somehow divorced my nervous system from the sensation of exertion. Every time I checked my pulse I was shocked to find it over 160. Definitely over my comfort zone for 6 months pregnant but I felt somehow blind and deaf to my own efforts. An effective technique for getting people to work harder though probably not ideal for the pregnant woman. The enthusiastic instructor with the booming voice who said things like "Climb this hill for 10 seconds more... 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 3.... 3.... 3... 2... 2... 2... etc. etc" and the quasi-tribal yells just did nothing for me. I can see how it create a groove for a good work-out but after too many years of being yelled at by and trying to respond to many an over zealous coach I have reached the point where I self-motivate. It`s always nice to have people cheering for me at races or maybe the occasional work-out but generally I am either working as hard as I can or should be and yelling has no no discernible impact on the outcome. I guess I am not meant for fitness classes.
So definitely an amazing treat. Truly a work-out in the lap of luxury. La cocotte seemed to have a good time in the daycare. She had a whale of a time on the track afterwards (255 m in 2:45... (PPC did NOT time her daughter's lap around the track did she??? Oh yes,she did!) and an even better time in the swimming pool. Inspired by the sight of my friend's 1 year old cheerfully dunking her head under water, la cocotte was willing to go "en dessous l'eau" for the first time ever and even asked repeatedly for "encore... encore" afterwards - a real breakthrough. As I say, the whole experience was a real treat... how can one not love a gym with a 255 m banked indoor track?? The surprisingly affordable daycare makes working out possible for harried parents which is fabulous. However, even with the daycare convenience and without the presumably steep price tag, I will still take the gravel trail on Mount Royal, the sound of my increasingly heavy footsteps and ragged breathing and my scratchy towels after a quick, piss poor shower at work over the Sa.nct.uary any day.