A good friend of mine living in New York City opted to join the YMCA instead of a real gym. He didn't have the money, he explained. Besides, why be so uppity that you can't work out with the common man? So when I went to visit him, he decided to show me the merits of his chosen exercise haven and ushered me into his gym. Throughout our entire workout, a near-albino with long, orange-ish dreadlocks and pink-tinted glasses eyed us intensely. On the incline bench, he was watching us. At the leg press, he was there. It was decidedly creepy. Finally, when I was about to blow the emergency whistle my mother had given me for my trip to the big city, the man approached us. "Hey," he said with an eerie calm. "Nice fucking calves."
Then he turned and walked away.
Beginning today and running through New Year's Day, 24 Hour Fitness will offer similar opportunities -- if not to bump elbows with the Big Apple's cracked-out bourgeoisie, then to meet other folks who know the value of firm forms. Free Fitness Days, 72 hours of unlimited access to the gym's state-of-the-art facilities, are designed to encourage people to get a jump on good health in 2005, the company says. Take advantage while you can, because after Saturday, you'll only be able to work out with crazies of the paying variety. For information or to find the club nearest you, call 1-800-204-2400 or visit www.24hourfitness.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Nordic New Year
Ski away 2004
Whether you're a dyed-in-the- synthetic-wool Nordic-skiing fan or simply someone who can make it to January 2 before abandoning your "get into shape" resolution, the Steamboat Ski Touring Center offers a way to kick and glide into 2005 with its annual New Year's Relay. "It's a really fun event -- less a race, and more of a fun get-together," says instructor Dick Curtis. Each member of a three-person team skis a 7.5k lap around the roly-poly course. The first skier must ski classically; the others may skate-ski.
As far as strategy is concerned, Curtis offers this advice: "Don't worry about trying to go fast; it affects your technique. Just go out and have a good time." And if your "technique" results in making involuntary Nordic snow angels, the center, located off Mt. Werner Road, offers lessons.
The race begins at 10 a.m. today; entry is $24 per team. For information, call the center at 1-970-879-8180. -- Shara Rutberg