So I get back from Christmas holiday and my friend Ian says, “I’m a fat bastard. We need to join a gym.”

Since I stopped playing frisbee, and since the feeding frenzy that was my Christmas vacation, I gained almost ten pounds. I was right where I wanted to be with my weight at the end of the summer (156lbs) and now I’m 164. So I’m in. The only question is, what gym.

So there I am, looking up “sport schools” on the Internet (that’s what they call gyms here), and there are at least seven in Dordrecht. I actually went and looked at one when we first got to teh Netherlands. At the time it was 60 Euros a month, and I was thinking, “what happened to all that cheap cost of living they were supposed to have in Europe?” Granted, the place was super luxurious, brand new and a fantastic changing room with (get this!) unisex steam rooms. But I know I’m not serious enough to drop that much on a fancy gym membership. And anyway, now it’s closer to 70 Euros and they want you to sign up for a year. No thanks.

So Ian and I go check out this place called “Den Otter”. We walk in and it’s obviously small, but the machines are new(ish), they have the right equipment and some free weights, and we ask they guy if they do monthly. They do. So we ask to look around. No problem. We enter the gym area and there’s this staircase down to a lower level with more equipment. We’re pretty conspicuous in our business casual attire, so we start heading down the stairs.

I was beginning to think the place didn’t have that great of a vibe because I saw a lot of people staring at us. Now normally, as a foreigner, you feel a little self-conscious, but I didn’t think I had “AMERICAN” stamped on my head or anything. So we get to the lower level and two things happen simultaneously.

First thing is that I look around and see about ten women. A milisecond later, right about the time the voice of the bartender reaches my ears, I make the connection.

“Sir. Sir, you can’t go down there.”

I turn to Ian and say, “Ian, I don’t think we’re in the right place.” To his credit, Ian passes on that softball and we both turn and try to walk up the stairs with as much dignity as we can muster.

The funniest part is, as we’re coming back upstairs, there’s a guy from work there who comes over and says hi. Great. Well what the hell, there was no sign or anything. Long story short, we signed up for a month and next time we come back we’ll have to give those tall Dutch laughers something else to laugh about. Like my biceps.

I can’t wait for the next new guy to come in. I think I”m going to work out every day, for three hours, just so I can be there when the next idiot walks down those steps.

Daily updates to follow on my rapidly reducing weight. Or maybe not.

Categories: Europe


Daniel · January 16, 2006 at 11:43 pm

Brian use to help track your weight.

Brian · January 17, 2006 at 10:29 am

Dan. Although I am a sucker for charts and graphs… there is no way I am going to spend money on this.

Not when I could be spending it on new PlayStation games.

Come on. Get real.

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