• Wed, Feb 23 2011

How Weird Are The Gyms In Paris?

Really effing weird, okay?

So weird that the total inability to find one would make a model want to kill herself?

MAYBE.

To be fair, they might have changed in the nine years since I last saw Paris. But parts of Paris stay with you. Like how weird the gyms are.

Why was I in Paris? I don’t know. Probably because after spending a lot of time clomping around in Doc Martens declaring that when I grew up I was going to move to France where everything was cooler my parents responded by sending me to study in France.

Where I spent my time alternating between writing my friends back home postcards about how it exciting it was to be in “jolie Paris, city of lights!” realizing I ever understood anything anyone was saying and sitting in the one movie theater I could find that played untranslated American movies, watching Spiderman over and over while weeping (13 times, sometimes sincerely murmuring “Go USA” under my breath). A bunch of other American girls decided to make the city feel like home by hitting up le McDo (despite the fact that at home, les filles n’aiment pas le Mcdo) and then declared “we should like, find… like… a gym” in the listless aimless way that only 15 year old girls can.

And that is how I found myself on a treadmill next to a man smoking a cigarette as he strode idly along. I got the impression that he would like to be walking aimlessly along the street, smoking, thinking about stuff, but since the weather was unpleasant the treadmill? Well, the treadmill would just. have. to. do. I tried running, but he kind of looked at me as if to ask why I interrupting his reverie. Why was I trying to go all “Run, Lola” run in an inappropriate place like a gym? I didn’t really know myself, so I toned down the speed and tried to shuffle slowly, thinking deep thoughts, mostly about Uncle Ben.

But my experience has absolutely nothing on Adam Gopnik, who writes about the gyms in Paris – and Paris in general – pretty much perfectly in Paris to the Moon. In “The Rules of The Sport” Gopnik attempts to join a “Tres New Yorkais” style Parisian gym set to open:

A week later I dug out my old gym bag, cranked up my Walkman and set off for the Regiment Rouge… I picked out our consultant and told her I was ready to get en forme. “Alas, the work continues,” she announced. I peered down. The renovations appeared to have stopped just where it had been when I saw it before. “The vestiares and  the appareils will now be installed next month,” she said. “However, we are having classes all week long, on an emergency basis, and the Regiment Rouge wishes to make you an award for your patience. Then she gave me a bag of chocolate truffles. (There is a health food store on the rue du Bac that displays in its window its own brand of chocolates and its own marque of champagne. Tout Biologique! a sign alongside them proclaims virtuously.) I ate one.

A week later we got a phone call from out consultant. She proudly announced that things were ready at last, and there would be a crepe party in honor of the opening. “We will have apricot jam and creme de marrons,” she explained. We went to the crepe party. Everyone – would be members and the girls in red tracksuits – walked around eating stuffed crepes and admiring the prising, shiny, untouched Nautilus machines and exercise bikes and free weights.”

So, what I’m saying here is that Noemie Lenoir probably had psychologic issues that contributed to her attempted suicide and had nothing to do with not being able to find a gym. But that said? I am also damn sure she couldn’t find an American style gym in Paris.

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  • porkchop

    I’m surprised at the…efficiency of this “regiment rouge”. I too enjoy stuffing my face with crepes and scowling at joggers, but doing both at once in facility designed for that purpose seems vulgar. Hopelessly American.