A Touch of Jade

Something about Mission Valley Center location just unsettles me. Don’t like any of the machines: they have none of the newer combo stair/walker/run ellipticals I like, and none of the newer Ab crunch machines. Also, there’s always a ton of people in there. It’s only a single floor and the space is small. Reminds me of the gyms in high school and college, where they had a small auditorium-sized space with machines and free weights jammed right up against each other. It must be incredibly expensive to lease that much space in a shopping mall. So I should give them respect for paying out. But it just doesn’t appeal to me. The people there are also more plastic than usual. It’s a mall, after all.

The only reason I go at all is the Tuesday night Cycle class. Nice to be able to make it to a class after work and not rush through the locker room suit-up. At the Imperial location, I’m usually walking into the class after every one else is on the floor already. Mission Valley is ten minutes away, National City is almost twenty.  It makes a difference.

So anyway, I walked into the cycle room last night and saw a sharp-faced younger guy setting up in the instructor area. Something about him was familiar. When he flicked on his wireless mike and told us his name was Jade, I remembered him. I caught his set at Hillcrest in December. He wore a ball cap that time. Last night, he was hatless, his thick mousey brown hair cut medium-short, like John Lennon when he cut his long hair for charity or protest right after the Beatles broke up. Jade was subbing for Cody last night. Cody takes a lot of time off, apparently.

Jade was typically energetic. He led us is running sprints, seated sprints and heavier climbs. Very disconcerting to look over and see his legs moving in a blur no matter what the drill. He really is just muscle and bone. He told us–as we were setting up our bikes–that he grew up mountain biking in Colorado. His quadriceps are cut on both sides of each leg. He kept up a constant running commentary, on every thing from correct riding position to the methods used by instructors to hook up their iPods to the club-supplied stereo system. One instructor apparently brought in a mini television which had RCA jacks to allow the line-in hook-up.

He worked us pretty hard. The women, usually amongst the most gung-ho in the class, emitted groans when he called out for resistance and pedal speed increases at the fifty minute mark. Sweat dripped off my nose and upper chest, hitting the floor for the first time in a long time. I usually gauge my work out by sweat. Last night was a return to the strong effort and heavy sweat.

Walking out, I saw Jade standing in the gym’s fitness counselor area, lining out the pass cards on a counter like he was playing Solitaire. I wonder if the instructors get paid off the number of cards they collect. It would make sense: a commission based on how many take the class. I need to ask one of them: maybe Steve K. when I next see him.

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