One of my absolute favorite places in Corpus Christi is our local YWCA. I joined several years ago because they boast a 25M pool, which you need if you’re going to swim laps, especially if you’re bad at the turn-y around bit. I once knocked myself briefly unconscious late one New Year’s Eve in a Holiday Inn swimming pool trying to do a kick flip. I find big pools now. I also really liked their mission statement, which is: “Empowering Women, Eliminating Racism.” It seemed a bit lofty, but you go YWCA.
As gyms go, the YWCA isn’t exactly swanky. We used to have a hot tub, but it kept getting clogged with what I think might have been back hair. It was closed for repair for most of last year, sometimes with this orange radioactive looking goop in the bottom of it and bright yellow hazard tape around the perimeter. Then, one morning, it was just filled in with concrete. Seriously. They just filled in the hole with concrete and then left it there, behind the glass, across from the weight room – like a warning to future hot tubs. About four months later, they covered the area with carpet.
The building is older, and because of that it has a lot of problems. The equipment is far from new. There aren’t fancy services like juice bars or daycare. If you want a towel, it’s a pretty good idea just to bring one from home. At the YWCA, you get a vending machine full of chips and last I looked, no less than three varieties of Mountain Dew. There are sometimes pockets of strange grossness that exceed those of more modern gyms. You learn to avoid. And, on top of all of this, the YWCA is more expensive than other local gyms. Membership runs $39/month for a single person, with an initial joining fee of $74. Compare this to Planet Fitness ($10/month, often with no joining fee) or gyms of its ilk, with new equipment and a strong probability of fewer grossness pockets, it’s no wonder that the YWCA seems to be suffering membership wise. And that’s one of the reasons I love it.
The typical YWCA member is approximately 80 years old and generally pissed off. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some young people who work out there, especially if you consider 40 “young.” But most of the folks are elderly, cranky, awesome, bright copper pennies of fierceness and I absolutely adore them. You may have traveled the world, but until you’ve participated in a belly dancing class full of octogenarians draped in scarves with bells sewn on them, you haven’t done anything.
I swim very early most mornings. Generally, the routine is that I get out of bed, throw on my suit and a cover up, slip into my flippity flops, and head out the door. If I lie in bed too long, or think about the fact that I have to go work out, there is some likelihood that I’ll just roll over and go back to sleep. The best way to get out the door in the morning is the same as the best way to pull out a knife – quickly and in one smooth motion.
Most days, I just wear my wet suit home under my cover-up, but a few days out of the year, it’s just too cold to bear the damp drive. On those days, I pack a gym bag with some street clothes and change in the dressing room. I don’t like doing this, because strangers often try to talk to you when you’re naked. Once, I forgot my underpants and was in the process of putting my yoga pants on commando when an ancient lady confronted me.
“Young lady, where are your panties?”
“Ummmm, I forgot them this morning. Just gotta get home commando I guess,” I replied.
“You have to wear panties! You’d die of shame if something happened and the paramedics found out you didn’t have on any underwear.”
“I think if the paramedics were there I’d be more likely to die of whatever they were trying to save me from than my lack of drawers,” I replied. Please realize that this whole conversation took place with her seated naked on a bench and me standing desperately trying to get yoga pants on over my damp flesh. Essentially, I had a tiny, wizened lady with a very firm grip on the necessity of panties angrily addressing my crotch.
“What would your grandmother say?” she continued, in a sneaky appeal to emotion.
I couldn’t bear to tell her that my grandmother was dead, so I sighed and said, “Probably to not forget my panties. Probably, if she found out I had forgotten my panties, she’d remind me every day for the rest of eternity to not forget them. She’d call me 8 times every morning if she had to.”
The old lady huffed. “That’s right. Don’t forget your panties.”
I wanted to ask her to be my grandma, but I thought she might put a Yale lock in a sock and beat me to death with it very, very slowly.
I can’t say that I never forgot my panties again, but on days that I don’t have them, I definitely don’t change in the locker room. That strange conversation cemented my love for the YWCA. My gym may be a little sketchy and weird. The equipment is far from new. There isn’t a juice bar or a towel service. But there is a 25M pool and a bunch of cranky old ladies, many of whom will yell at your crotch. It’s amazing.