Why being a member of a posh gym is a work out in itself
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Paris has a string of luxury lifestyle clubs that offer a boutique hotel spa/gym experience. White spaces to relax, top of the range gym equipment and chill out bars.
Living in Nanterre (equivalent would be Ealing) I needed a base camp in ‘downtown’ Paris and so the Ken club in the 16th became my second home.
I had imagined a long waiting list but probably seeing me as a high value customer I was accepted straightaway. The signup fee was also by no means small - as much as a small car pointed out our youngest daughter.
The first few weeks were tricky to say the least. My bouncy chatty demeanour was at odds with the ubercool frosty atmosphere.
This was mainly from 50 plus ladies who lunch and golf and not much else. Uptight pinched Parisiennes would scowl in the changing rooms and moan about how it was too cold or too hot. I tried on many occasions to elicit a smile but got a sneer in return.
My permanent locker turned into a second home - filled to the brim with all kinds of little necessities - from the little black dress in case we had a surprise do in town to every colour of knickers.
Being a slim 8 on UK I discovered I was a fat 8 in France. So I upped cardio lowered fat intake and took a coach. I lost 5 kilos in two months and felt as light a feather.
My beau is also a member but is just too busy and frankly uninspired by prospect of running hamster like on a machine. When he comes he usually does not make it past the cafe and the ‘warm up’ of steak tartare.
I found my beau a great coach but being overambitious and setting sessions at 7am he quickly grew exhausted of the whole thing. We had however one fab sports moment together - Sat afternoon dance class full of ageing ladies in leotards and us. My beau put us all to shame and effortlessly repeated the complex routine.
The membership includes usage of the Moroccan spa and pool plus access to treatments. I needed an urgent bikini wax one day and was slightly dubious - would it be a 'fringe' trim? Or a proper prune?
Fortunately I was blessed with a fab Tunisian beautician who chatted away as she waxed away using the old-fashioned Oriental method.
I tested some of the treatments and became an absolute fan of Carita. I swear la crème Diamant has taken years off my face.
There are also the crazy hairdressers - gay yin and yang. One who is a live wire and is always hung over from a big night usually accompanied by photos of him dressed as Wonder woman.
The Yin coiffeur is a gentle sedate colourist with a farmhouse in Normandy who likes to make jam. Of course with Mr Yang I have a wild 60s 70s do and Mr Yin a more traditional Parisienne bob.
I know feel very at home there and have a good old giggle with the staff. Probably seeing me in all my glad rags before a big night has softened things - MadMen 60s or YSL leopard shoes and backless dress.
As for the other clients I still find the French women rather frozen. The only thaw factor is seeing my Dior heels or mink scarf. The men are obviously much chattier and seeing me there a lot like to engage in gentle flirting. I obviously set the boundaries straightaway by mentioning mon epoux within first few seconds.
There are some very VIP members - though being French celebs I am none the wiser when my beau whispers that jean bla bla de bla is standing next to us.
Luckily for me being a funny old Brit Greek misfit I can stay to the edge of the 16th arrondissement way - Botox, blonde highlights and chain smoking. It’s rather at odds with gym culture - but I guess that’s the French way!
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