Go to ...

July 9, 2017

THE END OF AN ERA: GOODBYE WEST HOLLYWOOD 24-HOUR FITNESS GYM


Share


.

It is totally happening as I write this. Giant trucks are lined up alongside Santa Monica Blvd in front of what remains of West Hollywood’s 24-Hour Fitness Sport. Old dusty treadmills, stair climbers and other raggedy workout equipment have been stacked inside the bellies of these overgrown beasts. One can already hear the screaming of machinery, the pounding of sledgehammers and the rumbling and crumbling of plaster walls echoing from the inside out. A peek inside reveals gutted fragments of what-used-to-be.

.

.

I have talked and written my fair share of mad smack about the 24-Sour Shitness Squirt in my day. The Weho gym will forever be the West Hollywood Sports Connection (Erection, Infection), where some of us OG Weho hos are concerned. I must confess that I find myself—dare I say—kinda/sorta saddened by the demise of the good old 24 as I remember it? Don’t get me wrong; the gym is long overdue for some crack and crumble, slice and dice face-lifting action, but I’m still feeling a little nostalgic.

How could I have forgotten that this is the place where I literally came of age? I was too young to know better when I started working at the Weho gym as a front desk receptionist back in the early 90s. I was completely naïve to the misconduct that took place inside its steamy areas. But by the time I was promoted to a service manager, I had been exposed to some graphic, if not grody (as in gross) human behavior.

I Remember the Weho Gym: The Sports Connection was a gay club. This used to be the place where people gathered. It was our very own community center. It was the heart of Weho, full of baggage and drama. People came to the gym when they came to Weho. It was the city’s crown jewel at one point. And let’s be honest, it’s where a lot of guys just “came”, be it by the pool, in the jacuzzi, showers, executive lockers, bathroom stalls, steam room, dry sauna, sun deck, parking lot and even inside some sales offices. GUYS CAME. Period.

It was THE place, even though the equipment has always been dirty and old. The air conditioning was always busted. The men’s locker room area reeked of rancid ball smoke. The wet areas have always been splattered with a mixture of spunk. And of course there were the colorful members; we had the crazies, the cranky and the pervy. Grown men fought over equipment. Women complained about men kissing. And gay men were either caught jerking off, or they were royally pissed off that no one would jerk off with them—the latter always wore a pious veil and they bitched about the disgusting lewd conduct, cuz nobody wanted them, but their mothers.

I remember this one guy—kind of sexy—who screamed at me in the lobby because another dude had the nerve to touch his private toilet parts while he was trying to relax in the dry sauna.—“I’m sick of this shit!” He yelled at me. “It’s disgusting!” I was used to being screamed at for other people’s sexual shenanigans by then. I apologized profusely for another man’s lewdness. I’m telling you, the guy let me have it, calling me an idiot for not being able to control the sexual predators at the gym and so forth—THEN about two weeks later, I walked up to the sundeck looking for a missing employee (they always hid in the sundeck) and there he was, the same prissy bitch with his cock and balls fully exposed, in mid-stroke while another guy watched. His pathetic pecker was an annoying display of hypocrisy. He jumped when he saw me. The look of utter humiliation on his face was too damn sweet. Busssted!!! I shook my head at him with exaggerated disbelief. Then I gave him the most knowing—most evil smile I could muster. And I did absolutely NOTHING! I didn’t cuss him out. I didn’t call security. I didn’t revoke his membership. I let him stew in his guilt and filth. To this very day the guy eats shit whenever he sees me on the street. I couldda fucked him up. But I didn’t. And he still finds the nerve to give me the dirtiest looks. I wanna ask him: What the fuck did I do to you, you stupid douche hole?

I Remember the Weho Gym: There were broken bones and other injuries to go. I saw an old lady fly across the cardio area after her busted treadmill suddenly accelerated to Sprint Mode, waayy before Toyotas started careening people off the roads. I had one man lose his thumb in one of those very old abs machines where you dangled upside down—“OH MY GOD!” I screamed when I saw the blood spitting out of his hand at the front desk, which is like a major no-no in case of emergency; the man almost fainted when he saw the look on my face—and speaking of fainting, guys were always passing out after spending hours in the steam room (rolling my eyes to the back of my head). I had to call the paramedics on a weekly basis, it seemed.  

Come to think of i t … we never did find that thumb.

Here’s one I will never forget: A breathless employee rushed up to me to tell me that someone had taken a crap inside Old Man’s Soup, (our term of endearment for the men’s Jacuzzi). I was like, “NO!” I figured some poor old geezer had lost his grip and then let err rip. I proceeded with caution. Old Man Soup was full of pink faces bobbing around in the bubbles. Yup; a peek into the filter system revealed tiny chunks of what had to be poop particles. Alas…where there is smoke, there is fire. Sure enough, I spotted what had to be a fluffy turd being thrown around in the water. A guy followed my gaze. “Is THAT what I think it is…?” He asked me weakly, as if pleading me to tell him that he wasn’t swimming in someone else’s shit. “YESSS!” I responded firmly. This was no Babe Ruth chocolate bar. The pink-pruned asses couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I gathered the employees. We vowed never to speak of that deep dark trouble during work hours. EVER!

 

There are other gross incidents that I’m saving for the book. I’m not even gonna tell you about the guy that pulled a condom out of his ass while he was taking a shower and just left it by the drain for my poor cleaning guy to scoop up. That story is much too disgusting.

I shit you not; I literally grew up at that gym. Yes, it has changed management like an aging Weho queen changes his Y.M.L.A shirts, but for the most part the setup has remained the same. Truth is, I don’t know how it survived these past ten years with its skeleton crew and all of its busted equipment. I couldn’t tell you the name of an actual manager. There is no security, no floor instructors, and no Penis Patrol. All you get is sales people, Personal trainers, and a front desk girl, or two, which is weird.

I hear they’re turning it into a 24-Hour Fitness Super Sport. I hear they’re adding a basketball court (butch) and that they’re making the wet areas co-ed. But that’s not going to deter the spanking of any monkeys when women aren’t looking. Sorry. As far as lewd conduct is concerned, where there’s a gay, there’s a way.

A Super Sport means mo’ money, mo money! All I have to show for working at that location is my $10.00 a month membership, but that won’t be the case for the future riff-raff that wants to join. The upgrades and new memberships rates are bound to soar. It’s also bound to alter the entire eco system of our Boystown, but it could be worse: The Athletic Club, which was located on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and West Knoll (across the street from Koo-Koo-Roo), shut down for renovations over ten years ago. And it remains closed.

It’s a weird time for us OG Weho hos with the gay Starbucks/Starfucks/Gaybucks/Weho Beach now closed for renovations and the Weho gym as we know it being long gone. A part of me is sad to see the changes, but I a bigger part of me is so ready to let it all go. I want to say that it’s the end of an era for West Hollywood, but let’s face it, that era died a long time ago…and so it goes.

.

 

.

Thanks for the memories West Hollywood Sports Connection/24-Hour Fitness Sport. I’m more than a little curious to see what the Super Duper Sport has in store, but I don’t care how clean and pristine you become in 2011; to me you’ll always be a dirty, DIRTY little whore.

Luv,
Me




Comments

Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

13 Responses “THE END OF AN ERA: GOODBYE WEST HOLLYWOOD 24-HOUR FITNESS GYM”

  1. Marc R
    September 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Well said Paulo!!!

    Many fond memories of our ghetto gym. I’ve been in WeHo since 1976 & seen many, many changes over the years. Some great, some not so good. I’m very curious to see what’s coming next with 24hr, WeHo Park & the PDC. Not to mention the future renovation of Plummer Park Welcome to the “new” WeHo. Lots to look forward to (maybe)!!!

    Marc

  2. Paulo
    September 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for the comment Marc R.

    I totally forgot about all the tugging and pulling that’s taking place on San Vicente Blvd. Good Call. I also forgot to mention how they’re threatening to shut down The House of Blues. As in tearing it down. No more. Ain’t that some shit?

    Yes…there’s a lot of wait-and-see business going on in Weho. Can’t wait till the gym opens again. I’ve been forced to join Crunch gym for the time being.

    Stay Awesome.

    Luv,
    Me

  3. Jeff
    September 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Excellent article. Yes, “the times, they are a changin!” I personally think the “face lift” of our beloved “community center” is a great accomplishment. In a time when so many businesses on the Boulevard have closed down in the past few years due to the recession, it’s good to see some expansion. And it’s time to integrate. I’m not just talking about the co-ed wet areas. The B-ball courts will undoubtedly be used more by the (hot) “straights”. This is a good thing!

  4. Workaholic
    September 30, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane thru the eyes of a talented writer. I admire a writer who can take me down the path as if I were there, imagining what it was like.
    I too, am curious to see what the new change brings. I only hope it will not include putting in a nursery for the brats.

  5. October 1, 2010 at 11:24 am

    That was hilarious, Paulo. Turd in the Old Man’s Soup reminds me of that scene in Caddyshack. I’m surprised the demo crew tore the place apart so quickly. They could’ve just let the bacteria eat the place into a black hole.
    Looking forward to the grand WeHopening of 24 Hour Fat-mess. In the meantime you can find me at the Arclight location on Vine.

  6. Joe
    October 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    “I remember the ATHLETIC CLUB – those endless afternoons of bare oiled up asses on the nude sundeck – and swimming NUDE under the moonlight in the pool during the evening. Ah! It was a time of serious male bonding and feeling TOTALLY comfortable with being Gay and not afraid to be caught openly enjoying the sexually charged environment with all its bare-assed glory. Then, the bitchy queens moved in – spending DAYS in the wet areas and on the nude sun-deck while simultaneously whining about the ‘queens who do nothing but come to the gym to cruise!’ TRANSLATION: ‘How come with all the cruising, NONE of the guys that I want cruise ME – OR make me have to put up with the guys that I don’t want interfering with MY cruising agenda?!’

    LOL! PULEEZ! Paulo, I love you for calling out the hypocrisy of these pretentious Zsa Zsa Ga-Borings with your no-holds-barred honesty! Your recount of the holier than thou queen who bitched about ‘inappropriateness’ and was then caught with his own pants down wanking his tube-steak is classic – and pathetically consistent with the pattern of all these whiners who advocated ‘penis patrol’ for OTHERS while doing their own share of a different kind of penis patrol on the DL. LOL!

    It is the end of an era that actually ended a long time ago. Somehow, 24 Hour held out longer than the rest. But ‘Have I Stayed Too Long At the Fair?’ can be heard playing in the background as each piece of dusty, broken down equipment gets wheeled out and packed away. Get ready for Walmart and more co-ed Straight editions being introduced to WeHo businesses all over. The times, they are a changing. Remember, when we got to unabashedly enjoy choosing to live in ‘Gay ghettos’ without having to apologize for it? Ah! Pass me my membership to Bally Total Fitness. LOL!”

  7. Paulo
    October 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

    No! Not Bally’s. Anything but that! Please!!!

    Mr. Mannetti Thank you sooo much for your comment. The weird thing is, I actually worked at The Athletic Club for a couple of weeks back when I was a kid, trying to make ends meet while working the front desk at the Sports Erection. And the stories are equally hilarious. They were not as prudish, but they had to draw a line somewhere. I remember I caught 2 guys in full 69 position in one of the tanning beds. They forgot to lock the door. The guy laying down looked up and saw me staring down at them. He tapped the other guy on the ass to stop. The other guy didn’t even know they had been caught and continued going to town, cuz his back was turned to me. I remember I blushed profusely for them both, while they walked past me with their stiff swords swinging in front of them. I blushed cuz I was just a kid and still working through my own stuff. There definitely was a “boys will be boys” freedom at The Athletic Club that The Sports Connection lacked by the time I started working there. Yeah, the prudes can be rude. It seems like they’re slowly, but surely taking over the world. If they can’t get off, then NOBODY CAN!!!

    On a side note, I can’t help but to wonder if I kinda/sorta stayed too long at the fair myself (*grin*).

    Thanks so much for the comment. Missing you muchly.

    PM

  8. Joe
    October 4, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Thanks, Paulo! I miss you too.

    We live in a world where being Gay has become about proving that we can be “just like Straight people” instead of celebrating the glory of the kink and difference that Leather, Drag, and sexual rebelliousness used to define our communities, I think a lot of us feel like we have stayed too long at the fair!

  9. Paulo
    October 4, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Thanks Brian!
    I had this weird dream that they tore that gym down and made it all pretty and shiny and new. Then there was an earthquake and it was like a horror flick where the scene of the construction played in reverse. Down went the new walls and in came the old walls re-shaping themselves into their original moldy glory. The old treadmills rolled themselves in to their positions and so forth. Then there was stillness. And all you heard was the hisssssing sounds of steam and the bubbling of Old Man Soup echoing from the old version of the Men’s Locker room. It was a pretty creepy dream. I woke up screaming! I clutched for my Statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe. And fell back asleep…

    I miss our long late night talks. We NEED to catch up sooner than later.

    Luv,
    Me

  10. January 2, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for the great article. Does anyone know what is happening on the old Althletic Club site? I see it is finally being razed. My hope it that it will be a lushly landscaped oasis where Weho’s can sit and relax and take in the world.

  11. February 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Weight lifting increases your muscle mass to a great extent. It increases your metabolic rate considerably. What this means to you is that your body will be able to burn a lot of calories easily and you do not have to worry about gaining a lot of weight. This is one of the important benefits of lifting weights.

  12. February 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Wouldn’t that be nice: Another urban pocket-park! Unfortunately, I think it will become a new commercial eye-sore.

  13. February 11, 2011 at 5:43 am

    I remember when this club opened as a Jack La La Lanne Athletic Club in 1965! Too bad they could not convert it back to it’s original 1965 decor.

About Paulo Murillo,

Paulo has been writing for the gay media for over 16 years. He made his debut as a columnist for FAB! Newspaper. He has written for LA Health News, IN Los Angeles, Frontiers and The Fight Magazine. He has been featured in The Bay Area Reporter, XY Magazine, Bay Windows, Windy Times, and Press Pass Q, He has been quoted in the pages of Edge Magazine, Gay & Lesbian Times, Seattle Gay News, Fuges, and in a shitload of online news outlets and blogs, thanks in large part to Rex Wocker’s Quote on Quote – Wockner Wire.

QR Code Business Card