What to love about summer

It. Has. Finally. Arrived. Summer is here! It’s amazing what a difference it makes to be greeted by the shining sun first thing in the morning. Here are some of my favorite things about the beginning of summer in Düsseldorf:

  • Blue skies and sunshine
  • People everywhere (where were they all winter?)
  • Drinking coffee at an outdoor street cafe
  • The crowds on Ratinger Straße (Düsseldorf’s ‘party’ street)
  • Shorts, sandals, and sunglasses
  • Daring to leave the apartment without a scarf or a real jacket
  • Grown men eating gelato with ridiculously dainty, brightly colored plastic spoons
  • The pasty bodies of sun worshippers speckled all over the bright green grass of the Hofgarten
  • The air filled with swirling white seed heads from all the blooming trees
  • Riding my bike along the Rhine

I love it, love it, love it!

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Pumping grannies and more

I think it’s finally time to report on the job. The Christina is doing well. I’ve gotten comfortable enough with the procedures that I’m finally able to veer a little off the ‘script’ and bring my own personality to the, er, workout bench. I’m not always sure if the gym members I speak with get or appreciate my jokes – your sense of humor is the hardest thing to regain when you’re speaking a different language (the cultural references and word plays I know just don’t work as well in German) – but everyone, myself included, seems to be having a good time. As good a time as you can have while pushing out another set of 20…

But that’s what I love about the job. There’s a generally positive vibe around the gym. While each of the ladies (it’s a women’s gym) has different goals and reasons for being there, they’re all motivated by the same desire to do something good for themselves, to improve themselves. And you can somehow see that. They go through their routines with determination and skill (each new member gets an introduction to our machines and a personalized training plan to get started off with). I’ve never seen so many women using weight machines and free weights. On a busy night, you actually have to wait for the leg press.

Who are these women, you might ask? It’s a refreshing mix of young and old – some with jobs or college schedules, some with babies, some with a solid foundation of muscle, some with a little extra padding. And, because our regulars are fairly regular, there’s a sense of community among many of the members. My favorite group is the Monday morning coffee clique – these older ladies start out with a back strengthening class, go to their balance class, and then sit at our bar sipping cappuccinos before tackling the rest of their days. Seeing them makes me smile.

And, I’m slowly becoming a member of their community. I’m getting to know the names and stories of many of the regulars, just like they’re getting to know me. And, even though I already have the reputation for knowing how to make your muscles quiver, there are a few who really like working out with the ‘Arizona lady.’

It makes working evenings and Sundays not so bad.