Okay, I admit it. Since arriving in Paris last March I have experienced the newcomer's equivalent of new college co-ed's "Freshman 15" -- gaining the dreaded transitional weight. Fortunately, the "French-man 15" I had gained was calculated in kilos (whew -- divide by 2.2, so it seems better!!) and not nearly the prototypical avoirdupoids amount-- probably about 4 kilos. Too much delicious food and wine, and justifying every bite with "I didn't move to France to eat Clif bars." However, when my "fat" jeans couldn't close any more without pinching flesh in the zipper, AND the dollar/euro exchange rate made acquiring a new wardrobe not only depressing but usurious, I decided that it was time to fight back.
In the States I often would forget to eat a meal, too preoccupied with work or gardening or other projects. Really-- two years ago I was referred to in a Boston gossip column as "she with the chiseled features." Now here I am in Paris, of all places, feeling like "she with the camel features" -- too many bumps and lumps, in the wrong locations.
Oh, don't even ask. I've been practicing what all the "find your inner French woman" books recommend, and in fact had already living that way that for years without reading their ideas. You know: walk walk walk, take the stairs not the escalator or elevator, don't eat lots of bread, no snacking between meals, yadda yadda yadda. To no avail. How DO these Parisian women do it, I wondered?
Then I took a poll of my French female friends. They ALL go to the gym.
So, girding myself for that experience, I walked -- briskly of course -- over to the Club Med Gym on the rue de Rennes. The Paris Club Med Gym chain www.clubmedgym.com/ is just about the only game in town, as far as I can see, with the exception of private clubs or the uber-expensive Ritz or Meurice spas. (And one other terrifyingly hip all-chrome-and-glass place near the Opera.) Club Med is your basic pay-as-you go American-style gym. After entering the big 19th century cobblestone courtyard, I walked through the door and found a pleasant and run-of-the-mill modern facility. Vincent, or Benoit, or whatever the nice young man's name was, showed me around; and then I saw, to my horror, some Parisian ladies about my age looking drop-dead gorgeous and totally toned in their calecons and debardeurs as they leaned against the elliptical machines, subtly preening in full view of the men on the rowing machines. Damn. How could I even show up with my American corporeal baggage, love handles and all?
Well, that panicked moment was 10 days ago. I have since then been doing the body-fitness equivalent of "cleaning up the house before the house cleaner arrives," i.e. getting in shape BEFORE I set one little pied in the gym, just to save -- um, face?
Clad in my sporty new gym clothes from Decathlon http://www.decathlon.fr/, I'm now almost ready to face the treadmill, the abdo-fessier lessons, the hammam. I've got a long way to go. But watch out, you gorgeous Parisiennes, me voila! Let somebody else eat cake.
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