Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In the Future, Back Shaving Will Be Mandatory

Apparently the newest crisis in America concerns health club "etiquette". This definition of etiquette goes beyond simple good manners. The days of exclusion based on race and ethnicity may be past, but spas are using other lame excuses for keeping out "certain types" of people:

In an ideal world, we wouldn't have stories like the one that moved out of England recently, where a guy with a preference for tank tops was banned from a health club because members considered him too hairy.

But the reality is, a gym is its own little village with particular standards and rules, some unwritten, that have as much to do with getting along with people as it does with exercise regimen.

"Do unto others, and follow the golden rule; it keeps the club nice for everyone," says Christie Bankowski, vice president of operations for Club Julian in Ross. On some days, more than 1,000 people work out in the club, which is open 24 hours a day. "It's nice when the members are more conscientious about what they're doing."

Interesting that the hairy man anecdote segues into a comment from this Club Julian exec. Many years ago, a friend from college bought a house in Ross and immediately purchased a membership in Club Julian. He was still single at the time, and of course he had an ulterior motive in joining, which was to scope out the selection of local healthy young females in the neighborhood. He didn't follow through on it, and he eventually let his membership lapse. He didn't have much to say about the Club whenever I asked how things were there.

Perhaps this article sheds some light on his evasiveness. We hung out a lot during the summer, when his preferred choice of apparel consisted of shorts and a tank top. Nothing wrong with that, unless you're the sort of person who is offended at the sight of a human being with bear fur all over his chest and back. Those of us in this man's inner circle weren't bothered by it. We found it to be a good starting point for all sorts of good-natured ribbing. He was okay with it at first. But as time wore on, he got to be a little thin-skinned about his thick fur. Was he asked to leave Club Julian because of his hirsute attributes? Or am I reading too much into this?

Perhaps everyone who joins a health club will be required to remove all bodily hair before entering.

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