Gym Memories

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Lasting impressions: In six months I'll be doing the butterfly across that pool

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Number one in a series.

In 36 years working at nine different health clubs I've seen a lot of amazing, bizarre, interesting, and sometimes disturbing things. I have seen thousands of people come and go. Most do not leave a lasting impression, but sometimes, even a brief encounter will stay with me forever.

It was January 1980. The price of oil was $37 a barrel that year, more expensive than it is today. Imagine that. The George Foreman Grill and other astounding leaps in technology had yet to be invented. It was my third month working at my first health club. The club was awash with new members armed with their New Year’s resolutions.

There was a man there who weighed 290 pounds. He had the look of a former athlete. Under that marbling there was obvious potential to be a well-muscled fit man. He was there for hours each day for five straight days. He told me in six months he would be doing the butterfly across the pool. Given how long he was there with such regularity that was definitely a possibility. I didn't see him the next week or the week after. In fact I never saw him again.

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