Life at Fancy Dan’s

The drought is over. Today, for the first time, I walked into Fancy Dan’s Hotsy Totsy Downtown Athletic Club, more commonly known as the Athletic Club of Columbus (ACC), as a fully sanctified, card-carrying member. Finally — I can begin to get a piece of my life back. Given that by last Saturday afternoon I mused over the notion of diving off the Henderson bridge as I passed over it, I’d say the relief arrived none too soon.

It’s an eight-minute walk from the front of my office building to the front door of Fancy Dan’s, including a stop at my car, and less than six minutes walk returning to my car, by which time commuter traffic had subsided. This is good news, in that FD’s is less out of my way in both time and distance than a trip to Bally’s after work ever was in Phoenix; Bally’s was eight or ten minutes drive out of my way, which I considered insignificant, compared to my commute of twenty-eight miles each way.

The biggest difference now is that I have to walk it. This is a good thing—not a bad thing. How could one rightly complain about walking a few minutes to a place where he will be exercising on a treadmill? I’m more than happy to make that walk. I’m planning on recording the distance in my log from now on, as I used to record my warmup and cool down laps at Bally’s. I just measured the trek on Google maps by the shortest possible route as 0.334 miles. We’ll see how I feel about it the first time the weather turns lousy, which around here should happen within the hour.

Upon arriving I announced myself as the new guy to the friendly lady at the front desk, whereupon she explained what was where, which I already sort of knew from previous visits as a guest. She added that there are “quarter lockers” in the back, but that I could rent a locker, and someone upstairs could help me with that.

Ummm … quarter lockers? Yes, you just put in a quarter, take out the key, and when you’re done, you turn the key and even get your quarter back. Well, that’s a heckuva deal! But you see … ummm … I dropped off my wallet in the car before coming over, and didn’t have a quarter. No problemo! She loaned me a quarter on the spot, which I gratefully returned on my way out.

It beats me why they have lock mechanisms that require a quarter if you get the quarter back.

Fancy Dan’s does indeed feature a swanky locker room, although the appearance of naked state senators and lawyers strolling about in it is no different from that of naked folk of humbler station from Bally’s.

The lockers have dark wood doors, and almost all have brass nameplates with their renters’ names engraved on them. They must have different rates, because some of them are full length, adequate for hanging suits and overcoats, while others are … ummm … half length, I guess. I saw a man standing at one that had a whole roll-out system with little drawers and shelves with talcs and liquids and probably an underwear drawer and a mirror and for all I know a wet bar and an altar.

I’m afraid the “quarter lockers,” which I had to inquire about to find, are not so classy. They do have the attractive wood doors, but are barely big enough to fit my gym bag, which I had to scrunch to cram in. This will be a problem on any day when there’s inclement or cold weather, which we have 363 days a year in Columbus. I suppose I could check my overcoat downstairs in the check room, where there’s a coat check lady who would like to receive tips in return for putting coats on and off of hangers, and protecting them from marauding bands of Hell’s Angels that may pass through.

As for the workout itself: I started by running three miles on a treadmill, in a cramped corner of a fifth floor room, in a space with not much of a view, running underneath a TV with no sound, tuned to the news that showed banner headlines telling me repeatedly for half an hour that Hulk Hogan’s son wants to get out of jail. I hope they let him out so I don’t have to see that headline again tomorrow.

I’m determined to get used to the treadmill, because it’s my only option for getting in reasonably consistent weekday workouts. Today was the first time I ran that far under 11:00 miles in months. I hope to improve on that mark considerably in the coming weeks.

After that, I hit the weights for the third time since I’ve been in Ohio, the first being the fourth day I was here, the second in mid-April. Though I spent only twenty minutes, it all felt very good, as I gazed out the west window at the Ohio Statehouse kiddy corner from the stately brick club while doing arm curls.

The workout area is distributed between the fourth and fifth floors, with the free weights and a few treadmills on the fifth floor, and a cardio room with nicer treadmills and other machines on the fourth, where the locker rooms are located. There are also handball courts, a pool, a basketball court, and other as yet undiscovered features. The basketball court has a steeply banked track circling it above, but it’s totally unacceptable for any type of serious running—and about 20 laps to a mile. I may try a two-miler on it some day just for yucks.

Fancy Dan’s may be ritzy in some ways, but as a gym it’s only so-so. The workout space is certainly adequate, and was almost deserted. I think downtowners favor early morning and long lunch breaks, then escape to home at 5:00 p.m., whereas I am unreformably a late afternoon exerciser.

The equipment in the weight room is mostly old, standard Nautilus stuff, and neither fancy nor well-organized. Fortunately, with free weights the only requirement is that they be heavy and have handles. What’s there gets the job done. Tomorrow I will try one of the downstairs treadmills, which appear to be loaded with dials and programs. And of course, there are the usual ellipticators and stairstep and bicycle machines as well. I’m glad to have this place to go to, but quite honestly, as a gym, it’s not as nice as the Bally’s I used to go to, and vastly inferior to the one a little further away, in Scottsdale. Yet Bally’s markets an economy level service.

One thing that makes this place different is being able to step out of the weight room and into a lounge where you can sit in an easy chair and watch a wide-screen TV, while a guy in a cute little uniform brings you single malt scotch, or other libations of choice, which you can charge to your account.

Very nice. I won’t be doing that any time in the next several years.

In conclusion, it’s great to be back. I think I can make this work.

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About Lynn

o Writer and Editor o Computer Technologist o Composer o Ultrarunner
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