My gym has been undergoing quite a few renovations over the past few months. They’ve painted, remodeled the front desk area, upgraded many of the weight machines, added rubber-ended free weights, replaced the regular TVs with larger flat-screened ones … and I hear the sauna is changing too, although you still could not pay me to congregate with towelless, damp women. I have no interest in speaking to these people when they’re dressed and dry, and believe me, even less when they’re not.
Most of the improvements do not affect me. I use mostly free weights and don’t care if their ends are rubber or iron. I don’t hang out at the front desk. I don’t watch TV. I don’t care if the walls are Eggshell or Tuscan Sunset. One of the improvements, though, is such a glaring example of stupid thinking that I can’t help but despise it.
The area where most of the “cardio” equipment resides is a mezzanine that overlooks the main floor of the gym. (There is also a lower level and another level above the mezzanine. The place is what you might call spacious. Or cavernous. Or, for those of you less inclined to develop your vocabularies, “fucking gihugic”.) This is where the bulk of the gym members do the majority of their real sweating. It is also where too many of them do their reading and Jumble puzzles, which may be the reason why one of the “improvements” involves the lighting.
The mezzanine used to be an oasis. Its ceiling is lower than the rest of the ceilings in the space, and the lighting fell, diffused, from covered dome-type fixtures. Some of the equipment was directly underneath the lights and some of it was not. Thus, members had a choice as to whether they wanted a lighted workout or whether they wanted something a little more romantic. I preferred the latter.
Now, though, the mezzanine — the section where I like to perch on a Stairmaster so I can get a full view of the activity below — is lit with rows and rows of naked fluorescent lights so bright and hot it’s almost like working out on Venus if not the actual sun itself. Watt’s the thinking behind this, I wonder. Is the gym accommodating those members whose priority is not to focus on their workouts but to read the latest gripping issue of In Style magazine? I suppose this lighting is perfect for those whose biggest exertion at the gym is furrowing their brow at the Word Find. But for those of us who intend on getting a workout that involves actual sweat, the lighting couldn’t be more overbearing if it tried.
The worst part, though — more than the heat and the almost interrogation-light mood it forces upon me — is that now I have to run out and buy all new makeup to accommodate this unflattering lighting. Don’t these people know what fluorescent lighting does to olive skin?
I would like to know which dimwit came up with this brilliant idea, so the next time he’s so inspired, and the little cartoon lightbulb hovers over his head, I can punch out his lights and that one too.