Ugly can be beautiful

Love this essay on Zocalo today by Meghan Lewit extolling the virtues of her favorite place to go, her gym. Which is anything but posh…. A reminder that something doesn’t have to be shiny and perfect-looking to instill a sense of comfort, and community.

“Tucked away in K-Town, my gym brings together a genuine cross-section of the city. There are lots of Asians, many Latinos, a handful of blacks, a few whites, some Indians, and even the occasional Borat-like patron of mysterious origin. You might even say that my gym is the city of Los Angeles. It’s a place of nearly constant frustration where diverse people are peacefully forced together, united primarily in their sourness and irritation. And yet we dimly suspect, despite the hassles, that this is exactly where we want to be.

I usually go to cardio classes in the Olivia Newton John studio a couple of times a week, and I’ve gotten in the habit of chatting with a fellow club member, a middle-aged Asian lady who’s usually accompanied by her teenaged daughter. After about a year of brief exchanges, we figured out that we live just one block apart. Her husband has been the mailman in our neighborhood for the past 20 years.

My favorite weekly class is Bollywood Dance, taught by a lithe Indian man with a posh (to my unschooled ears) British accent. He blasts the music so loudly that it rattles the grungy mirrors on the walls. Every once in a while, one of the muscled weight lifters will wander in to join the fun. Everyone looks ridiculous. No one cares. Then we pour out, a little healthier, into the pungent night of smog and flashing neon lights and go our separate ways.”


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