As a 175-pound weakling whose idea of lifting weights is doing 12-ounce curls, I had always vowed that I would never go to any gym that wasn’t situated next to a bar.
I recently found such an unlikely combination when I won a one-day trial membership to Blink Fitness, which has gyms in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California.
Because going to the West Coast would entail hopping on a plane, a form of exercise frowned upon by the Federal Aviation Administration, I drove to the Blink location in Melville, New York, which happens to be situated next to Blackstone Steakhouse, an establishment that has a bar where powerlifters such as myself can do 12-ounce curls.
My brief membership began after work, where I didn’t work up much of a sweat, and ended an hour and a half later in the upstairs equipment room, where I didn’t work up much of a sweat, either, because I was too busy talking to members who were trying to work up a sweat but couldn’t because, of course, I was talking to them.
“How’s it going?” I asked Scott Grimando, 48, an illustrator who was in the middle of a workout on the shoulder press machine.
“OK,” Scott replied between huffs and puffs. “Trying to keep in shape.”
Except for a woman who was working out with a personal trainer and appeared to be even older than I am (63 physically, 12 mentally), Scott was one of the more senior members, most of whom appeared to be in their 20s and already in such good shape that they shouldn’t have bothered working out.
“I have a one-day membership,” I told Scott.
“Make the most of it,” he said, adding that he’s a pescatarian.
”I’m Catholic,” I responded. “And I may need last rites before the night is out.”
Scott patiently explained that a pescatarian is a person who doesn’t eat meat but does eat fish. “It’s a good diet to be on,” he said, returning to his shoulder presses.
I sat down next to him and did 10 at a weight that probably didn’t exceed that of a Chihuahua on a pescatarian diet.
Next I spoke with David Kahn, 50, a lawyer who was on a pedal machine.
“I want to look buff,” said David, who did. “Also, I got hurt Rollerblading, so coming to the gym is safer.”
David, who used to play soccer and softball, practices corporate law and said he couldn’t represent me if I got hurt working out.
“But I could represent the gym,” he said with a smile.
“In that case,” I said, “I’ll take it easy on the machines.”
And I was on plenty of them. There was the treadmill (where I watched Charlie Sheen in a rerun of “Two and a Half Men”); the moving stairs (which I climbed steadily but didn’t get anywhere); the calf exerciser (I didn’t see any livestock); and the dumbbells (I was the biggest one).
All in all, it was an invigorating experience. The gym was clean and spacious, the people were friendly and the equipment was top-notch. And I didn’t need last rites.
“How was it?” assistant manager Christian Dellosso, 23, asked as I was leaving.
“Terrific,” I said. “Considering I’m 40 years older than you are, I feel really good.”
“Great,” Christian said. “I hope you’ll join.”
“I’m thinking about it,” I said. “But first, I have to go next door for one more workout.”
I strolled over to Blackstone Steakhouse and ordered a beer from bartender Vinny Fodera, 59, who sported a sweeping mustache and a muscular build.
“Do you work out?” I asked.
“No,” Vinny said. “I used to lift weights, but they were too heavy.”
“If you don’t mind,” I said, lifting a cold one, “I’m going to do some 12-ounce curls.”
“Be my guest,” Vinny said. “For guys our age, it’s the best exercise you can get.”