Looking for a representative cross-section of San Marcos residents? Try the 24 Hour Fitness in the Vons center at San Marcos Boulevard and Rancho Santa Fe Road any weekday morning around 6:30. As you walk through the automatic doors, you’ll see the early-20-something Front Desk Girl hauling out the racks of spandex workout gear (20% Off!), her long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. You can almost see the bubble above Front Desk Girl’s head: “Work out here and you’ll look like me.”
Just beyond the glass partition, standing beside the weight machines, Trainer Man meets his first client of the day. Trainer Man: mid-50s, receding hairline, firefighter mustache. He doesn’t look like Ahnold, but he’s toned and trim in his baggy black workout shorts and white T-shirt. Trainer Man makes small talk with Overdressed Senior Citizen Lady. The sun’s not even up, and she’s in full makeup regalia, white hair teased to within an inch of its long life. Overdressed Senior Citizen Lady wears a soft pink French terry workout suit. A matching pink bow perches in her hair. Her manicured fingernails are exactly the same shade.
Past the weight machines, in the inner sanctum, the free-weight room, you’ll find Popeye. Popeye is tall, his red hair swept up in a semi-pompadour. In his black sweatpants and sleeveless black T-shirt, Popeye grunts and sweats and trades stories with the other early-morning weightlifters. He lifts impossibly large stacks of weights. His massive biceps ripple underneath his shoulder tattoo as he says, “I woke the baby up this morning so I could play with him before I left the house.” Something tells me Olive Oyl wasn’t too pleased.
In the cardio room, rows of treadmills and elliptical machines and stair climbers face the window. In the front row, Fatty and Skinny pump their arms and legs side by side. Housewives who talk incessantly about their kids and husbands, Fatty and Skinny seem more concerned with working their jaws than their muscles. Blond and petite in powder blue capris and a white T-shirt, Skinny looks as if she might fit comfortably in a child’s windup music box. Brunette Fatty sweats away in black side-striped workout pants and a green striped V-necked shirt, probably purchased in the Plus Size department at Wal-Mart.
Behind Fatty and Skinny, Heart Attack Man flails away on a treadmill. Clutching the front of the machine with a deathlike grip, Heart Attack Man chews gum or talks to himself while running. His chest heaves. Sweat flies off his body. He seems ready at any moment to collapse in a heap and be hurled backward off the machine. When Heart Attack Man’s breathing grows especially labored, Fatty turns to Skinny. “Call 911,” she whispers.