Focus Group

Due to our lack of skill, my golfing buddy and I usually play a scramble.After each stroke, we both take our next swing from the preferred location of the better ball.I remember one hole when my friend blasted his drive almost 300 yards: his ball traveled 150 yards straight and then 150 yards right, landing deep in the woods. I launched my drive straight but sky-high, causing the ball to plug hard against the wall of a sand trap.Someone in our foursome, unable to contain his schadenfreude, yelled out, “And that’s your preferred drive!”

Golf is a sport that requires focus and concentration, just like serious exercise. I’ve long believed that proper conditioning is not just a measure of fitness, but also an ability to block out a gym’s countless distractions. Frankly, I don’t see how you can achieve the former without the latter. Just take a look at a typical week of assaults on my senses.

Sight: On Monday, I pushed open the door of my gym and walked into a cave. The fellow at the front desk asked my forgiveness for the power outage, and invited me to work out anyway. Dude: no apology necessary – I’m just delighted the front door is unlocked. The rest is up to me.

Sound: How about working out while a fire alarm shrieks endlessly? (Same gym, same time.)

Smell: On Wednesday, my jump rope and I were met at the threshold of the aerobics room by the health club version of tear gas: a repairman was applying industrial lubricant to a dozen stationary bikes. I counted on my clean-running liver to process the toxic fumes at the same rate I inhaled them.

Touch: On Friday, the gym I used has its free weight area built on some kind of plywood platform. When I perform heavy squats, I can feel the floor sag under the weight of each rep.

Now I know what you’re thinking: The distractions at the beginning of the week were just a coincidence, but an unstable floor is a permanent feature. Shouldn’t a weak base be motivation enough to go find a new club?

Actually, this facility is my preferred gym.

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  1. My last expedition to the gym (in my building, so it has no attendant or staff) was graced with the presence of children. I’m sure I should have felt somehow bless or pleased, like I was in some Judy Garland movie, but alas, the screaming and ceaseless staring just seemed to spoiled all that. I had to intervene after 10 minutes of channel flicking combined with a DB rolling contest, I just couldn’t take it, my senses were assaulted, beaten and stupendously bruised. At least the swiss ball got some use that day… a much better vocation for its presence in my gym I thought.

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