I first joined Crystal Sports Club in 1993 to supplement my hospital physical therapy after knee surgery.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s a nice gym–two aerobics studios, a machine and weights area, a full bath (sauna, three tubs and both Japanese seated and Western standing showers) and wicked good massage chairs. But one of its finest features is that it’s inconveniently located a solid 20 minute walk from the nearest station. That means that most of the members live nearby. We see the same faces again and again. The place has a nice small town feeling in the midst of a city of 12 million souls.
Some people have been members since the gym opened 30 years ago; some of them go every day. It is the focus of their lives, like the older gentlemen that once hung around the town pharmacy playing checkers while their wives gossiped around the cabbages at the A & P.
Last month we were informed that Crystal will close its doors at the end of February. It will be torn down and replaced with an apartment complex. Now there is a pall hanging over the building; some members have confusion and loss etched on their features. It is a loss not just of a place to exercise and chat with friends, but of a sense of community.
My last adorable kitten post got over 30 “likes” on Facebook, and the people connected to those likes range from family members and girls I played with when I was a baby to high school and college friends, colleagues and gym buddies. There are even a few that I’ve never met but have developed relationships with over the Interwebs. This is my community.
As Crystal prepares to bid us adieu, I don my star-spangled pointy hat and ermine fringed brocade robe and peer into my crystal ball, hoping to discover what the future will bring. There will be loss; that is guaranteed. Will there be gain? I can only hope.