Of all the gym joints in all the towns in all the world

Ooof! Just back from the gym, my first visit for three weeks and it shows. I only managed to do half of my regular programme, custom designed by Leonardo, my personal trainer [pfff]. I made sure not to overdo it since I know what that’s like. When I started last year, I couldn’t bend my arms for a whole weekend. Oh yes, everyone had a good laugh at me trying to put my jacket on with straight arms. But who’s laughing now, flabbies?

I was alone in the gym today, apart from Leonardo, who was busy updating his personal organizer. Not even Paulo the Poser was there. You certainly couldn’t miss him as he strides into the gym in his itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny black lycra shorts and tight black T-shirt. Big desert boots with hiking socks and a black skullcap make up the rest of his outfit. He’s very friendly but always clears the benchpress immediately so that he can load up the bar with the biggest-looking weights and push it up and down ten times. Then he’s off again for a chat with the receptionist. I swear, I’ve never seen him do any other exercise.

I was also uninspired by the music on the radio, The Commodores’ Three Times A Lady. Beuuch! How are you supposed to break a sweat with that on? It took me back to another gym in another town, Abidjan, in the Piramide building in Plateau. The gym was in the basement, without windows and only dimly lit by fluorescent bars. It was well-equipped though and a popular place for the under-employed youth to hang out. Some of them must have spent a LOT of time there, judging by their huge pumped-up bodies. But what they loved above all was an old cassette with Whitney Houston singing that song from Bodyguard . They would all stop pumping and grunting and sing in franglais falsetto,

end aiiiiieeaiiiieeaiiii weel olwez luuuuv yeeww!