The hardest category I created on this blog was “body” but it seemed like a good idea at the time and was intended to serve two purposes. First; for me to not neglect my body, since by having to write about it I would have to think about it. Second was to practice writing about topics that were more of an assignment than a pleasure. After-all this blog is more about my evolution as a writer, designed by me, for me to improve and have to consciously make an effort. Plus, good health is a precious commodity, perhaps the most important factor in both success and happiness, so I included the category for these reasons.
The autumn in Sao Paulo is really nice, on a good fall day the club where I’m a member is perfect for tanning and swimming in the pool. Tomorrow it’s expected to be just such a day, as today was. Therefore I plan to spend a couple of hours improving my fitness, or at least staving off atrophy and the other ailments of old age. We humans were not intended to sit in front of a computer for 10+ hours per day, so it’s necessary to exercise more to make up for it. Plus, the food here in Brasil is so good (best produce on the planet) and my city of Sao Paulo features thousands of restaurants of which I’ve found at least a handful that I like to occasionally dine at.
The track at the club is a brand new Olympic type facility with vulcanized rubber running surface and painted lanes. It’s really nice and soft to run on the new track but going around in circles for 30 minutes can be a bit mundane, so we mix it up and run down some of the trails and around other jogging areas. The club is built in a small valley, with the track and largest of many swimming pools at the very bottom. All around the valley and up the sides are towering Brazil wood trees. Great straight and solid white bark trees with few branches until the top where they support lots of foliage. Marvelous forests of these trees is what the country is famous for and named after.
The club has teams of maintenance people to care for the grounds and clean the facilities, they’ve thought it would be nice to plant all sorts of local shrubs, flowers and even orchids, so every chance I get I’ll enjoy running or walking along the paths at my club. Always I find something new to see and often I just look at the plants and flowers. Sometimes I’ll take the back stairs down the valley past the workers parking lot and staff entrance. I think very few club members use this old rickety set of stairs and dirt path on the edge of the property, except I occasionally notice staff members coming up or down the winding stairs in the trees. Most club members tend to use the stone walkways, concrete stairs or the elevator system which has attendants who do nothing else all day except press the buttons for the people to ride the elevators up and down a huge concrete tower to bring club members to or from the Olympic pool and or track.
In the middle of the Olympic track there’s a regulation size soccer pitch or field. This field is not grass but instead a synthetic rubber material that looks just like grass, and underneath instead of dirt it is ground rubber from recycled tires. The field feels like grass and plays like grass except it’s faster and of course never needs to be cut, doesn’t suffer from puddle problems or water damage and s is always the same. Every day, especially in the afternoon there’s lot’s of young boys playing soccer on the field.
Up near the top of the club, where the main entrance is and access to large parking areas, there’s a huge concrete building, 4 floors above ground and a couple beneath, wrapping around the property to follow the contour of the valley. On one ridge there’s the main swimming pool complex, tier after tier of pools, spanning the ridge. Everywhere there are walkways of inlaid stone, separated by manicured landscape and always immaculately clean. The pools all have entrances guarded by a little booth and people behind shaded windows to ask your membership number, the ever-present staff is very discreet but always pleasant. The pool area has an enormous patio attached to the club building from which there’s a restaurant concession and teams of workers serving the members with deep discount priced food and beverage, subsidized by the club.
From the restaurant patio it’s just a short walk to the first of 16 clay tennis courts but these well tended courts are spread along the inside of the tiered valley with nicely designed inlaid stone walkway and stair system. These same walkways will take you past gymnasiums, basketball courts, pataka courts (like handball but with a shuttlecock), more restaurants, snack shops and down more stairs to buildings built into the side of the valley for health spas, yoga, saunas and then covered tennis courts. If you keep walking you’ll eventually arrive at the huge indoor double basketball courts, upstairs from which is the mezzanine area for martial arts, aerobics and finally to the fitness club and huge weight lifting rooms, this is where I go 3 times each week, to use the 60+ strength training machines for the reasons mentioned when I started this long-winded story.
From the fitness center you can look out over the Olympic pool two levels below and over to the Olympic soccer field where I often run laps. What’s most amazing about my club is that despite all the concrete and steel that it must have taken to construct this massive complex, when you’re in any of the areas such as the pools, tennis courts, or on the track you mostly notice all the beautiful trees and vegetation not the buildings because they’re built into the sides of the valley and tiered all the way in amongst the natural terrain. Also amazing is that there are over 30,000 members and unless you come on days when it’s obviously going to be busy, like most Sunday afternoons during the summer or the day after Christmas, New Years etc… it often seems like you’re almost the only one there.