Smart Cards

Today’s choice of bulky grey hooded sweatshirt, barely stretched over my drum of a belly, as function-over-form running attire, combined with the lumbering pace at which I ran, and the horn-like swirls of hair that are the product of my recent ‘let’s try to grow it out’ haircut, made it look like a water buffalo was pushing the jogging stroller around the lake today. Still, momentum won out over gravity for six glorious kilometers and I am pleased. Pleased not to have peed myself. Also pleased not to have been stopped and scolded by well-intentioned but concerned passersby. A few curious looks, yes, but I think that’s normal when most of the other stroller-pushing women on the path around the lake were wearing lavishly soft scarves, chicly belted overcoats, and expensive-looking leather boots, while I was essentially wearing a ‘Pregnant Boxer’ Halloween costume a month out of season. (Also, there’s not really Halloween in Germany.)

Tobias had a somewhat different workout experience today. This morning’s orientation to the gym at his office featured:

  • A personalized fitness test that included blood pressure, BMI, body fat, and flexibility tests
  • A questionairre about percieved stress levels and fitness goals
  • A personalized membership card (not impressed? just wait…)
  • A lesson on how to use the fitness machines. You just insert your membership card and the machine automatically calibrates the resistance levels to your specific settings, based on your fitness profile as measured during orientation and during ongoing consultations with the in-house trainers.
  • Tobias also explained something kind of interesting about how the machines have resistance in each direction, but I can’t remember the details because I was too busy thinking about how much data his employer is collecting through its in-house gym. Ever wonder how much your VP of Finance can bench press? Why not wonder how much they actually benched pressed last Wednesday morning, and how much time it took them to recover before the next set of reps, and whether they’re neglecting their leg muscles in favor of triceps/biceps on your fancy schmancy bi-directional-resistance machines? The mind reels.
  • Also, his gym has individual shower stalls. Remarkable.

His gym does accept outside applicants for membership, but I don’t think the gym and I are quite ready for each other. I just keep imagining that the gym mirrors are one-way glass with the firm’s security team sitting behind them, and I’m not ready to give up my grey hoodie for whatever it is you wear to a gym with workout machines that are smarter than airport check-in kiosks.



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