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The trainer at my new gym here in Costa Rica, Carlos, looks a little like Antonio Banderas. Dark, good-looking, great smile. But, if you go in there, don’t let that pretty face fool ya. The man tried to kill me. He is darkness personified. At least no one over at Workout-Time, our old gym, tried to hurt little ole La Jefa [la Hay-fah, the boss]! But I guess here in Escazú, Land of Gringos, things are done a little differently. More developed-nation like. They definitely charge developed-nation-like prices.

As soon as we got all moved into our new Costa Rica home, we looked for a gym. Hal is hot on working out. Something about getting old. I try not to listen. We wanted someplace along the lines of Workout-Time charging Workout-Time prices. Something neighborhoody. We don’t need no stinking modern equipment to build these old bodies. Perhaps “build” is the wrong word. “Salvage” would be more fitting. But, no, nary a neighborhood gym left in Gringolandia. I did find a World Gym for $100 month. It had EVERYTHING. Including well-dressed, fit ticas y gringas in brand new Nikes and gold bracelets. Not really our style. Workout-Time was only $16/month. Just the thought of jumping from $16 to $100 got my heart pumping.

We decided on Gimnasio ArenaTrek. A first-world gym, it was welcoming, $30/month, clean, more tico than gringo members, with every piece of new equipment out there. And the trainers, they all look so nice. Which is part of their gimmick. I’m writing this as a public service: don’t be fooled. They get your money, THEN they try to kill you. Here’s how:
First, you fill out a complete medical history. In Spanish. You fill out a lot of forms in Costa Rica. Usually just before or after standing in line. In Spanish, of course. You need to know the Big Four: nombre [GNOME-bray, name], numero de telefono [KNEW-mare-oh day tay-LAY-phone-oh, phone number], cedula [SAID-you-la, i.d.], and direcciones [dee-WRECK-sea-own-ace, directions to your house. Since there are no “addresses” as we gringos know it, you tell people how to get to your house: the directions. You need to know it en ingles y español.]

After the Big Four, there was a long list of diseases I couldn’t decipher, so I just checked no. I didn’t see any word that resembled insanity and I don’t have anything else, so I figure I’m good to go.

Then Carlos weighed me. The results were in kilograms and I am studiously avoiding knowing the conversion. Still, it sounded like an awfully big number for a mere slip of a girl 5′ tall.

Then he measured me. He had a tape that went all the way around me. Imagine that. He’d get a result, then shake his head. Yes, he actually shook his head. I’ll bet there is no head shakin’ goin’ on over at World Gym. I decide, however, for $70 a month, he can shake his head at me.

Then he tricked me. He asked me to grab an instrument with both hands and squeeze as hard as I could. I figured this for a strength measuring device. I may be pleasantly plump, but I am strong like bull. I squeezed the life out of the thing, got a great BIG number and, extremely pleased with myself, handed it back. He was shocked and awed. Turns out this is a body fat measuring device. If you are ever presented with one, go limp.

Then he asks me a whole bunch of questions about what I eat. “Cheeps?” No, I don’t eat chips. “Helado?” OK, occasionally I eat a spoonful of ice cream. “Soda?” No, I don’t drink soda. We go through this whole list and my answer to almost everything is no. He KNOWS I’m lying, I can see it on his face. But the truth is I don’t eat badly. I just eat muchly. I think because I eat so fastly, the FULL signal never gets to my brain. You can get fat on rice cakes if you eat too fast. I know this for a fact.

Meanwhile, my new friend, Carlos, now shaking his head at all the lies I’ve told, decides the first thing I need to do is get on the treadmill for 20 minutes. OK, I can do that. I used to run 6 miles a day in Manhattan. I’d jog over to Central Park, do the route, jog home… I was so much younger then. I even ran a 10 mile race through Central Park in 1986. In February. In the snow. Over Heartbreak Hill. I quit running right after that. I had done it all. Why continue the torture?

Plus, I owned an aerobics business for almost 20 years in Key West. I told Carlos this and he looked at me incredulously, like “you expect me to believe THAT?” I’m not enjoying my time with Carlos as much as I thought I would.

In fact, Carlos was just getting started with the treadmill routine. With an evil grin, he added 20 minutes on the elliptical. THEN 20 minutes on the Wave thing. The guy thinks I’m FAT. Yeah? Well, I’m also competitive. I WILL SHOW HIM A THING OR TWO ABOUT OLD FAT WOMEN.

I do the treadmill fine, adding a good amount of incline. He is impressed when he comes by to check on me after 10 minutes. The elliptical is a little harder, but I manage. By the time I get to the Wave thing, I’m plumb wore out. And that sucker almost finished me off. And – get this — while introducing me to the Wave, my buddy Carlos patted his butt while staring at mine and gave a big two-handed thumbs up. Carlos needs to learn a thing or two about talking to women.

The Wave thing was brutal. My heart rate was at 160bpm the entire time. After 10 minutes, I was dead. Er, done.

We get to the gym 3-4 times a week. I bought one of those big blue plastic balls for home after I saw Janet Jackson using one on Oprah. Mostly it rolls around the house without my body attached to it. I know there are abs under this belly fat. Somewhere. The ball exercises are HARD, but I don’t care if finding my 6-pack is painful. I don’t like being fat. And I sure as heck don’t want Carlos giving me the old thumbs up while looking at my hips again. I’ll show him.

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