Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mama Said Knock You Out

Mary brought up the subject of having the gym closed after the spring session ends next Friday. "The coach's position is not yet listed online, and I'm not signing up any new people. I don't want people to be upset if they begin the summer session and there's no coach present," she said. Dealing with the real possibility of irate customers wanting their money back in that case is something the Loyola Park staff doesn't want to deal with. I don't blame them.

Mary and I will discuss plans regarding having the adult boxing gym open further next week. My original thought was to not have the gym open that week in-between the end of the spring session and the beginning of the summer session to keep looky-loos from just roaming into the place. It is now making a lot of sense to me to have the place closed temporarily until a new coach is in place. Of course, the kids' gym time on Tuesdays and Thursdays will continue as usual.

She told me that "the intense guy" had arrived at the gym before I had, and was hanging out in the basketball gym. Mary didn't remember his name, but I knew instantly that it was Jordan. "His name is not on the class list. He didn't sign up for this session," I said.

Mary left shortly afterwards, and I turned on the bell. As I was heading towards the radio, I heard footsteps on the stairs outside of the gym. I sighed and turned around to see Jordan. His hair was jacked up. Why he had a portion of it tied up with a rubber band was a mystery to me. "Where's Steve?" he asked in his usual clueless manner. "He resigned a couple of weeks ago," I said in my best cold business-like voice. Jordan, like everyone else, had been told months ago that Steve would be gone now. "I'll be in next Wednesday and Friday," he said. Don't do me any favors, I thought, as I turned my back on Jordan and turned the radio on. He didn't have any workout gear or clothes with him, so I thought he would leave.

"Who's coaching?" he asked. "No one," I said, not feeling the need to explain to him that I was temporarily in charge of watching the gym. Fortunately, Carla and Deb came in, so I could justify ignorning him. Unfortunately, Jordan is one of those guys that doesn't take hints because he doesn't have the brain power to realize when one has been given to him. "Who else is coming in?" he asked. Do I look like a psychic? I thought. Out loud I replied, "I have no idea, Jordan, until they come in here." He was probably looking for JJ and/or Mike to show up. Or any guy, for that matter, so he could brag about what he doesn't know.

Jordan was hitting the smaller heavy bag with no gloves on. "You shouldn't hit the bags without gloves on," I said, repeating something that Steve had told him many times. Jordan stops and gives me this -- attitude -- looking at me like I was some bug that he needed to swat away. He mumbled something about "it doesn't matter". In that second, I wanted to pick up something and knock his ass out in the middle of the floor.

He went back to hitting the bag, but I wasn't going to let it go. "Look, Jordan, that bag is practically brand new. Don't mess it up by hitting it with your bare hands!" I forcefully told him. I didn't give a damn if he didn't care about hurting his hands, but he was going to at least have some respect for the equipment. I got the feeling that he acted like the place was his personal gym. Just before this exchange, he asked to have the radio changed from V103 (an adult urban contemporary station) to B96 (a top-40 station). Usually, I had no comment about the music most of the guys liked to hear while in the gym. I don't normally listen to what they like when I'm not at the gym. It really wasn't worth me arguing with Jordan about it, so I changed the station. But I did tell him, "There, I put it on your crappy station."

He asked Carla to help him figure out his weight on the scale near the mirrors. The scale is not hard to figure out, but then this is Jordan we're talking about. I doubt that he was an honor student in school.

Seeing how he failed to intimidate me and the fact that none of the guys came in, caused Jordan to give it up for the evening. He left like he always does, with no acknowledgement of who is in the room. I immediately changed the radio station.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Possible New Recruit

Martha is a crossing guard that I see most weekday mornings on my way to the temporary custodian job at my church. She saw me with a Golden Gloves hoodie on, and inquired if I boxed. I told her that I go to Loyola Park, and she was interested. "I need to tone up," she told me. I gave her info about when the summer session will begin. "Don't sign for spring, because that session is almost over, and the Park District won't give you a discount because of that. You'll have to pay the full fee, then pay another full fee for summer," I told her.

Keith strolled in on Wednesday night, asking where Steve was. I know Steve told him he was going to resign. Perhaps Keith forgot. He hung around for awhile, then left. Deb, Carla, Paul and myself were the only ones in the gym until Jermaine came in later.

Earlier on Thursday, while riding the 'L home, I ran into Arin, who hasn't been in the gym in weeks. She said she would try to make it back in.

I think I'm going to suggest to Mary that the gym should be closed during that week in-between the spring and summer sessions. My goal is to keep characters from roaming in, looking for a free workout. Once June rolls in, activities in the fieldhouse increase, meaning more people hanging around. If no coach is hired by the time the summer session starts, then the week off would be a good time for me to come up with an interim lesson plan for the newcomers.

Learned that Brian hurt more than his thumb sparring the other week. Paul told me that Brian's hand had been broken in two places. I hope it heals up soon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Open Later

When I got to the fieldhouse, Rob had to call Mary to come by with a key to open the gym. Jilberto has a key to the gym, but he doesn't work at the fieldhouse on Friday. When Mary arrived, I told her I doubted that anyone would show up. It was the Friday before a holiday weekend, and normally, attendance is low. I had a CD of music I downloaded from iTunes, so I put it on.

Foster came in about 10 minutes later. He's proven himself to be very consistent so far. He comes in and does a pretty consise workout routine.

BK, one of the staff members, came in and talked for awhile. He told me he has plans to open up a few businesses down the line. It's interesting to learn about people's future plans to even be more successful. BK always struck me as being a thoughtful, serious sort, so I wasn't exactly surprised when he told me about his plans.

Foster and I were the only two for a while until Manny came in. I hadn't seen him for awhile. Manny had been training at Clarendon Park, but he explained that not much has been going on down there. He plans to come to Loyola Park on Fridays to get a workout in. Manny wants to get a few Park District boxing show fights during the summer. I haven't seen a schedule for those shows yet, but one should be out soon.

Jermaine was the last one who came in for the evening. I quit working out around 8:30 PM, but kept the place open an extra 15 to 20 minutes for him and Manny, who came in later. Manny, like Barry, suggested that I apply for Steve's old job. Even Jermaine was saying that it would be a good idea for me to do so to keep the gym going. Mary told me earlier that the job still hadn't been posted online, but she'll let me know when it is.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Right Out Of The Gate

Brian was there when I arrived at the gym. Foster came in not long afterwards, followed by JJ and his new coach, Gio, then Tommy and Ben. None of the other women came in.

JJ had a tape of the fight he lost at the National Golden Gloves. It was just as he said before. His opponent came tearing at him right out of the gate. JJ ended up getting two eight counts in the first round. We all groaned when the camera didn't catch all of the action. Barry taped the fight, but didn't always keep the lens focused on the action in the gym. We were treated to a nice shot of Steve's wife Ellen, who had Eli sitting on her lap. At her prompting, Eli waved to the camera.

JJ sparred a couple of round with Foster and with Brian, with Gio and I looking on. Brian hurt his thumb during the second round with JJ and couldn't continue with his workout that evening. I don't think any bone was broken, but his thumb was swollen. Brian said his girlfriend is a nurse, so he would check with her about his thumb tomorrow. I told him to ice it up this evening. JJ and Gio left not too long after the sparring sessions were over.

I was very tired and sluggish, but I perked up a bit when I got into the ring to shadow box. My new medical ID came in the other day; I now have a couple of necklaces, one of them being a backup in case I lose the first one. I remembered to wear my volunteer badge, too. Now that the gym is in-between coaches, I thought it would be a good idea to wear that ID.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gym Showcase

Mary left a voice mail for me earlier in the afternoon. The person who was supposed the sing the National Anthem for the annual Gym Showcase couldn't make it in. She asked if I could perform the song. I called her back and assured her that I would.

Barry had two of the boys in the youth boxing program, Nate Jr. and Kenneth, do some exercise routines for their portion of the showcase. I hadn't seen Nate Jr. do his fancy jump rope techniques before; he was good. Kenneth is a new boxer, a long, lanky quiet kid. Like Nate Jr. he also demonstrated his technique on the punch mitts for the crowd.

"I'm glad you're here," Barry told me when we came back inside the gym after the performance. "Most people wouldn't want to train on a Friday night. It takes a special individual to come in here on a Friday." I like going to the gym. Besides, what else am I doing on Friday night? Ask most unattached middle-aged women -- unless she's a cougar chasing down young men in the clubs, the dating scene is pretty slow. If I had a boyfriend, he'd have to wait to see me after I came out of the gym, anyway. First things first.

Barry and the boys left after a light workout. Attendance among the adults was very light again this evening. Only Sadiq, Carla and Foster were there. "Why weren't many people here?" Sadiq asked after we were the last two in the gym. "It's nice outside, it's Friday night, there's the Gym Showcase going on, Steve's not here anymore," I answered. Robert took a little break from his work to look in on the gym, and he noted the small amount of people inside. I told him, "The numbers will pick up again when a new coach is hired."

Just as I suspected a couple of days ago, I have picked up weight again. Ten pounds of the 20 I lost have returned. Damn. . .I know it is because of what I've been eating, and the lack of doing extra exercise during the week. It's my fault. I was looking at the DLife web site and learned that actor Jerry Mathers ("Leave It To Beaver") was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 50. He controls it with diet and exercise. I keep thinking about the complications I could develop because I'm not as diligent in controlling my weight as I think I am. If Mathers could take weight off and get it together, than I can too. I have to do it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pizza In The Gym

Mary and I were talking not long after I arrived at the fieldhouse. She wondered if Steve was going to come in tonight. She wanted to hold off on ordering pizza for the farewell get-together until he got there. He came in just as we were talking about him.

Steve cleaned out his locker, and found some notes that he had taken a few years ago on JJ and Mike. He gave both of them what he wrote. We got a good laugh out of those. Anarbo, from Brooks Park, was there, and Steve gave him some extra gauze that he found.

The gym was busy when the pizza arrived. I had Gilberto bring the food into the gym. He set the table up in the middle of the floor, and then it was moved towards the lockers to give people room to still work out. Gio, the trainer JJ is going to next, was there. Tommy, Carla, Ben, Jon, Foster and Brian were there, as was a friend of Arnarbo's (I hope I'm spelling his name right!). Even Sadiq and Mort (along with his girlfriend) came in.

I didn't touch any of the pop (no diet pop was ordered), but I ate more of the Giordano's pizza than I should have. It feels like the 20 pounds I lost are slowing creeping back up on me, judging by my thighs. Steve said he found a gym in Buffalo, NY where he could work out. "It'll be nice to get back in shape again. I figure I'd better do it because I'll be 40 years old in awhile, and it'll be harder to keep the weight down," he said. "Tell me about it. The weight just seems to stay on and never come off," I said. Many days, I feel like I inherited my late dad's blubbery physique. I used to be petite like my mom, but that was 21 years ago. I believe those days are gone. The best thing I can hope for is to be healthy.

Jon's thigh was better. It had been bothering him, and he had to ice it a lot. He asked me if my leg was better. My knees remain stiff, and my left foot is swollen again (I think that's a condition of hypertension), but I'm okay. Margaret, the choir director at my church, told me the cleaning I do at church in the mornings serves as a functional workout. Perhaps that's why I was so sore last week. I haven't been working out much outside of the gym because the temporary custodial job is a workout in and of itself, and it wears me out. But I have to get back to regular exercise, especially now that warmer weather is coming.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Soreness, Slowness, Sad News

Barry called me last night. JJ lost a close fight at the National Golden Gloves, so he's out. According to Steve, it was a close decision, but the other fighter was very good. I hope this doens't discourage JJ from his plans to go pro next year.

Barry also told me he found the gym door open on Thursday. I told both Mary and Gilberto when everyone was gone Wednesday night, so I don't know what happened there. I don't have a key, since I'm not a Park District employee. I have to depend on staff to open and close the gym.

My left leg and lower back have been hurting since Wednesday. I sat in a hot bath with Epson salt earlier this afternoon. It did some good, but not a lot. I think it's because I'm using extra muscles during my temporary custodian job at my church. I could move around a little more in the gym tonight, but it was still a light workout. During stretching, I felt some tightness in the left side of my back. I have no idea what that is all about, and I'm hoping not to have to scratch up money to go to a doctor. I'll have to rely on aspirin for the time being.

Only Carla and Deb showed up. Tommy came in on Wednesday, and he promised he'd come in tonight, but it was a no go. Carla and Deb did stay until near 8:30 PM, and I closed up not long after they left.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Right Coach

Barry called me last night, and we talked for a long time. He's concerned about who the park district may hire to replace Steve. I don't blame him. Unfortunately, neither Barry or Mary will have input into the hiring process. That'll all be done downtown. From what Steve told me a couple of months ago, the application process has become more strict, as well. The park district wants everyone to have a degree. Uh, I can buy someone having to have a degree in physical education to teach in the exercise and sports programs, but there is no degree in boxing.

I told Barry that I would have applied for Steve's job, but I still don't have a coach's license. "You can get one. All you have to do is take the test. I think that if you were the coach, between you and I, the program could stay competitive," Barry told me. Now I'm thinking I might apply after all to provide consistency and continuity. After all, most folks who've come in there for a while know me. They might be skittish about having to deal with someone totally new. It wouldn't hurt to put in an application. The worst that could happen is that I don't get the job.

The new coach has to be able to work with Barry. Barry is essentially the head coach. He's been with the park district for over 20 years. It wouldn't do to have someone in there who can't mesh with him.

There was also concern on Barry's part about characters rolling into the gym now that Steve is gone. As soon as word gets around that no one's minding the store per se, I can see some attempting to treat the place like it's an open gym. I've documented the more annoying incidents involving adults and kids strolling in off the street too many times on this blog. I don't like dealing with that kind of stuff, but I know how to handle it when it happens. Barry told me stories of similar incidents happening when the kids are in the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
We both agreed that the squash on that stuff has to be consistent and immediate.

It may be weeks before someone is hired. I'm thinking the summer session might be half-way done before a new coach is put in place. In the meantime, I'll be in my usual spot, holding down the fort until that happens.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Steve's Official Last Day

I spent most of the day at home. It was rainy, I heard thunder, and I was a bit sad since it's the last day that Steve was going to be at the gym. I puttered around, applied for jobs online, watched a little TV. When I went to the gym was the first time I came out of the house all day.

Mary saw me as I came in, and told me of her plan to have Steve come back one more day. She wanted to give him a small going away party in appreciation for all of his work in the gym. Steve and JJ will be gone all next week for the National Golden Gloves, but Steve agreed to come in the Wednesday following that. I'm hoping that the going away party also doubles as a celebration party if JJ wins the championship.

I took pictures to document Steve's official time in the gym. Gabe had his camera, and he asked me to take a group shot of all the guys in the gym, which is featured above. From left to right, the guys are: JJ, John, Gabe, Jermaine, Steve, Foster and Wally.