So when we got back from the US, I joined a gym. It was the one that previously wanted a bill in my name. But the gym has a sort of agreement/discount with the hospital, and Alexandre knows the owner guy and worked out there for a long time before switching to another one. So he bypassed the receptionist and went in to talk to the owner guy, who let me join in a very unofficial, paper-and-pencil-records kind of way.
The gym is small, and doubles as a physiotherapy center. The owner is actually a physical therapist. So my first "session" was actually a sort of evaluation. He took all of my measurements and weight and all that. Everything was done in the metric system. so the exact extent of my flabby-ness is still more or less a mystery to me. (It's probably for the best.) After the evaluation, he made up a weekly workout routine for me to do.
So my first day of actual exercise was the owner guy just teaching me how to use all of the machines correctly, and constantly correcting my posture. He's not really pushing me too hard-- his logic is that I need to learn how to do things correctly, and to build up resistance slowly. Also, if I'm in pain, I won't come back.
There are trainers/instructors that walk around the gym along with the owner guy and offer help to the people working out. But since the gym is so small, and there are never more than about 10 people there at a time (and even fewer in the mornings), and a lot of them seem to be long-time members. So that means I essentially get a personal trainer every day. The gym really does offer quality service.
I just finished my first week. The first days have gone something like this:
Instructor: Ok. Put your legs here. No, here. Stretch them out straight. Straighter. Sit up straight. Ok go. Good. No, Posture. Put your head straight. Posture. Head. Posture. Posture. Head. Why are you turning your hip to the side like that? Straight. Straight.
It's no fault of the very helpful and friendly instructors. It's totally me and my awkward-ness. Good thing I'm not dancing.
Another funny thing of the gym is the way the owner and the instructors think they are helping me by modifying their Portuguese. They speak very slow, and repeat themselves, and seem to have no notion of English, because they do things like this:
Instructor: Este exercício é para melhorar seus músculos abdominais.
(This exercise is to improve your abdominal muscles.)
Me: Tá bom. (Ok.)
Instructor: Entendeu? Sua BARRIGA. (Did you understand? Your belly.)
Me: Sim, entendi. (Yes, I understand.)
They have very good intentions, so it's no problem. They just think my Portuguese is like a child's. They assume that words that will be difficult for children (like "músculos abdominais") would also be difficult for me, and they instead say "barriga" (belly), which is actually a much more difficult word for an English/Spanish speaker learning Portuguese. One of the girls kept doing that (another example was when she said "glutus" and then "corrected" herself and said "bum bum," thinking it would be easier), so I finally told her, "I understand the formal words and the medical words better than the easy words, Ok?" I mostly just wanted to save time and confusion in the conversation.
But I have learned some helpful body part words, like knees, elbows, wrist, etc. And I'm starting to pick up some nice translations for phrasal verbs.
Come on. Going to the gym is a chore. I have to entertain myself somehow!
Oh, and of course, word has already got out at the gym (after my whopping 4 visits) that I "ain't from around these here parts."
Last night was particularly... interesting. It was more crowded than I had seen it on the first 3 days. When I got there, I passed the middle-aged receptionist and two older women who were chit-chatting at the front desk. I waved, and then went around the corner to put my stuff in the lockers. The lockers are in the actual work-out room, so I waved a hello to the instructor on duty. Then I went back out to the lobby to use the bathroom.
While in the bathroom (which is just to the side of the front desk), I heard the receptionist saying in Portuguese, "Yeah, she moved here to live with her boyfriend." When I came out of the bathroom, the 3 older women were all staring at me and smiling. Sigh.
Then I went back into the workout room and hopped onto the stationary bike, the first step of my routine every day. Three older men were on the bikes to the side. I came in at the middle of the conversation, but I figured out that they were joking about politicians and soccer. Then one man said,
"Obama would definitely be a Corinthians fan!" (Corinthians is a soccer team from Sao Paulo, and Alexandre's favorite.)
Two of the men started laughing, but the third said "shh, shh!" and pointed at me.
... Because I would be offended about something like that? I assumed that they were not Corinthians fans and thought that calling someone a corinthiano is an insult.
I just smiled at them. Don't know if they knew that I understood or not. I felt like saying "Nice to meet you, too. I don't care if you joke about Obama's possible soccer alliances." But more importantly, how did they know who I was, and that I was American? I can only assume that while I was in the bathroom, the instructor girl said something to them.
It didn't end there. The instructor girl on duty (a tiny 5-ft-tall evangelical girl who bears a striking resemblance to Nelly Furtado) led me to the next machine on my routine list. While she was observing me, another woman walked by. She said to me, "Oh, this is [lady's name, I don't remember]. She is a translator and English teacher, too!"
"Que legal," I said, smiling politely at the woman. (That's nice.)
"She's American!" the instructor told the woman.
"Oh, are you Danielle?" the woman asked. "My daughter and her friends took classes with you. I called you once to see if you could give private classes to my other daughter, but you weren't free at night."
[I remembered this lady's phone call. Her daughter and her daughter's friends were some of the flakiest and snobbiest students I've ever had, and I had no interest in changing my schedule for anyone in that family. She also wanted me to drive out to her house on the other side of town, even though her daughter told me in class that her dad is rich and this lady doesn't work. (Let me point out here that Brazilians do this what I consider annoying thing that they say "I'm a [job]" just because they studied for that job, even if they aren't working or are working in something else. So when this woman says "I'm a translator," she could really be saying "I studied humanities/translation 25 years ago and haven't worked since I married my rich husband.") Folgada. Plus, if she's trained as a translator and teacher, why doesn't she teach English to her kids herself?]
Anyway. I said, "Oh, yeah, I remember."
"Well what's your schedule like now?"
"Yeah, I'm just super busy right now. I'm working on a project for an American company. You can try calling me in a few months..."
That wasn't a complete lie-- I AM super busy and considering telling any new people that I'm not available-- but it was a definite "no" for this woman.
But yeah. Sometimes I feel like a famous person, with all the whispering and questioning and being recognized, but without the money and assistants and other cool stuff.
I'm tired of having to talk about how different I am. But at least I'm gonna get skinny and buff and improve my atrocious posture.
PS: I saw one of these outside my window the other day. It was a woodpecker! I think it was this one. Fun!