I was able to find a gym that did not cost over a third of my salary (while that gym was very nice, with pool and sauna, I do not get how Georgians can afford it). Anyway, on my walk to school right past the tetri khidi (White Bridge is a pedestrian bridge into historic downtown)is a dark, gated staircase. On the interior wall is a sign with a stylized person in motion, what motion I am still not sure. This sign stays “Pitnes Klube”, there are no “f”s in Georgian. After months of walking past this run-down and intimidatingly gloomy entrance, I worked up the courage to see if a.) there actually was a fitness center b.) if it had any decent equipment and c.) how much it cost. A was confirmed as a positive. There is a fitness center at the bottom of the crumbling staircase and the end of the drafty hall. The fitness center is still open and running and has decent enough equipment. The cost, affordable. So I decide to go ahead and do it. The communication between the administrator and I was very funny. I was able to come to the conclusion that I could go between 10 and 4 Monday, Wednesday and Friday (I later found out that Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are the “boys” days).

On Wednesday I gather my gym clothes and shoes and throw it into yet another bag that I lug with me to, from, and around school. I walk in around 2pm and am lead down a hallway to the changing rooms. They aren’t the best, but they are relatively clean, surprisingly don’t smell and have lockable lockers. I change and go out to the main room and start to stretch.

As I am stretching with my nose touching my knee, a Georgian woman lies down next to me with her head resting on her hand and asks “aerobics genda to training” (do you want aerobics or training). Initially I just wanted to lift weights, run on the treadmill while the weather is crap, and do my own thing. But, I thought to myself, “Why not”. So I looked at her and agreed. She then happily hopped up, turned on some music and began to find ways to work muscles that have never been worked. I cannot even begin to explain some of the things that we do that seem so ridiculous yet somehow capable of tiring me out. This past weekend when I saw some friends, I showed them a few of the things I do in aerobics, and I was told that those moves are done in American aerobics classes as well (clearly I am out of the loop when it comes to aerobics). So after a good forty minutes she tells me that because it is my first day, we are going to stop that and that I need to run or bike for ten minutes. I chose to run.

I assumed that this time was an exception to the norm. Not the case. When I arrived the next time, she was there and ready to work me till my inner thighs were on fire. This time we did a full hour of aerobics before she told me to bike for ten minutes at the hardest setting. I protested, mentally and physically, and only did 5 minutes at a medium low setting. Then she had me do a few machines to work my upper body. She was very particular about my elbow placement and when I breathed. Once I figured out the rhythm, that was rather easy.

I have been a total of three times so far. Each time Sopiko has been there to push me farther and harder. She does it by asking what I want to do next and I just let her lead the way until I physically am unable to do another repetition. I then walk home 5k. I better fit by the end of my stay here! (If of course I keep it up.)