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Prospect Park Armory YMCA – Part 2

February 15, 2011

A while back I posted my critique of the Park Slope Armory YMCA’s indoor track. I would have saved the time had I known it would get worse.

Let me start by acknowledging no, I don’t have to go to this place to exercise. However it is half the price and more importantly less than a quarter the distance from my apartment than the next closest place. If it weren’t for the latter, I probably would return to my old gym, about which I had pretty much zero complaints .

Anyway, not too long after my previous post on the subject, a plastic fence appeared around the track. “Finally!” thought I. “A nod to safety!”

I asked the help desk people if it would be permanent. The answer: Yes. As you might guess, though, its presence had nothing to do with me or people like me having a poor experience running the track. The Armory YMCA had taken on local schools running their track team practices between 4-6 PM. The fence was there to protect – well, me, and people like me from the teenagers rocketing around the track – or rather, the other way around.

The deal was that the outside lane on the track would be reserved for YMCA members. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I tried once to continue my routine of running on the track but as you surely know, teenagers in general aren’t terribly interested in getting out of the way of adults.

So, shamefully I retreated to the fitness center and its diabolical treadmills. Here at least I could relax and not worry about getting run over by a giant teen or running over some tyke myself, or becoming entangled in some horrific multi-generational jogging accident. What I did have to worry about however was actually being able to get onto one of the machines.

After the new year came the usual influx of new members, working off their holiday guilt, turning over a new leaf, etc. Except I don’t think I’ve seen such a deluge of new people anywhere. Lines eight people deep to get on one of two stationary bikes are not a good sign.

I’d gotten lucky for the most part, because I can arrive slightly earlier than the real peak hours, but a couple days ago I was shut out of a treadmill. Unwilling to wait (because it’s ****ing ridiculous, plus I’m on a bit of a schedule) I went with Plan B and returned to the track.

Just getting there is no mean feat in and of itself, as crowded as the place is now. So I navigate my way past the tiny ballerinas semi-pirrouetting around the hall, through the dense crowd waiting for the next spin class, past the approximately 300 nannies that line the wall like giant hens sitting on eggs except these eggs are small children who roll around on the filthy floor while the women chat … finally to the track.

That plastic fence, whose yellow and black stripes once promised safety now screamed “Danger” … Remember that outside lane I mentioned earlier? The one reserved for YMCA members? To start with, there was a leak dripping into a garbage can that sat in the middle of it, hilariously surrounded by more black and yellow striped fence. Good times circumventing that and avoiding being barreled into by some speeding 15 year old(s).

Here some other things I saw in that lane while attempting to run in it:

• A power walking 8 year old moving against traffic
• Teenage boys changing clothes
• Coaches blowing whistles and shouting at kids
• A kid in some kind of a harness attached to a 30 foot leash that stretched across three lanes and held by another kid (this leash was soon seen loose, whipping around behind the running kid-in-harness)
• Of course – track team members running (duh)

So … ultimately, yes. It is bugnuts insane in there, quite unpleasant and beginning to look kind of hopeless. I guess I’ll just have to wait till March when allegedly the schools use of the track will stop. I pray to God in heaven that they do keep up that fence after that though, or else it’ll be back to square one.

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