GERMANY -- SNEWSÂ® took an excuse to fit in a workout at a trendy-looking health club in the university area in Munich called Schwabing. It looked pretty spiffy from the outside and even its website had a truly modern and sleek attraction, so it was worth a SNEWSÂ® excursion.
No website could have transmitted the totally uber-coolness that enveloped the entire club, the dÃ©cor, the design and, of course, the people. Two stories high, the satiny polished hardwood floors were the sleekest of mixed woods with not the tiniest speck of dust anywhere to be found. Walls were a mellow burnt orange. Stairs, high-tech marble, brushed silver and wire. Entryways were marble. Three studios had ongoing classes covering about everything you can image. There were rows and rows and rows and rows of cardiovascular equipment (Life Fitness, StairMaster, Schwinn, Technogym), some positioned in front of super large flat screens with various TV channels. Strength-training equipment was either from a company called Schnell or one called Sportesse, all upholstered in matching burnt orange.
The people? All so cool, floating above it all, not talking to anyone. All, as a matter of fact, really quite fit. Odd, really. We cocked our heads and looked around. Not one person could be seen that had more than maybe three pounds too much, which doesn't even count as overweight. Hmmm, there was hardly a person in the building who was older than about 40 and most were 20-somethings. Uh-oh, were we out of place? All were dressed chic and out of last month's fitness-fashion mag -- definitely no Glamour-Don'ts anywhere to be found.
Music filled all the rooms, but not just any generic Muzak. Instead, it was a disco, techno-rock with a trumped-up bass and a beat that drilled itself into your brain. There was no escaping it. No escape. Then we realized its volume was obviously selected for a reason: It was just loud enough to make any kind of conversation nearly impossible. What did that mean? Although the club on a Friday evening was fully rocking, no one engaged others in conversation or interacted in anyway, with anyone, whatsoever. It was almost as if each person was alone -- although there were dozens and dozens of people everywhere. It was an odd feeling really, floating around two expansive floors of perfectly arranged rooms with perfectly functioning equipment with perfectly spotless floors â€¦ but feeling totally alone. No smiles, no engagement, no discussions of weekend activities to come, or the highs and lows of the week just past. A male trainer leading an abs class barked commands, counted reps and never encouraged. All very robotic. Surreal, really.
Not only were all the members super cool, never has SNEWSÂ® been in a club where everyone we spied did every exercise correctly and the workout just as prescribed. Stunning to not see a training mistake. Anywhere. It was all choreographed. Balance boards were not just hardly used accessories lying in dusty corners, but ones that found constant demand. Exercisers all stretched between exercises â€¦ correctly.
Were we on some movie set? Was it a photo shoot for Men's Health? Was somebody going to yell "cut!" when they discovered this American intruder had wandered onto the scene and ruined the take? Was this perhaps a second remake of the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers?"
By the way, the uber-coolness even extended to the steam, pool and sauna areas. Looking to relax and escape the techno-beat, we found our way through the locker room and to a steam room. Sigh. No musical beat. Instead, psychedelic lights. Really. We could have done without the large backlit glass panel on one wall of the steam room with lights behind it that slowly alternated between throbbing red, yellow, white, green and blue, illuminating the inside of the steam room like the dance floor on Saturday Night Live sans John Travolta (he could have been there for all we knew, being it was the typically Euro co-ed steam room). Â
When all was said and done, we did our best New York model's glide out the door into the quiet, snowy and cold Munich night. Fyi, www.leos-sportsclub.de