When Katherine opened the door, a very strong smell came out of gymnasium, which hadn’t opened in a while. She grabbed her flashlight and went straight for the electricity box where she activated the breakers needed to let the lights back on. They turned on slowly, as if the whole building was waking its time waking up in the morning. As the lights turned one by one, Kath walked to the cafeteria and checked the refrigerators. As she had suspected, someone hade left some franks in one of the fridges and when they rotted, the smell settled in the gym.
When she came out of the kitchen, every single light was on. She turned off the flashlight and walked through the machines as if she had never been in a gym before. The whole place smelled like humidity and it was very dusty. So much, that every step she took in any direction formed a cloud in overt he floor that took a rather long time settling in. The place hadn’t been visited for almost a year and it was already like not any human had been there ever.
Katherine walked all over the place, checking the state of the building as such and of some of the machine. The walking ones still worked and many of the weight in the weightlifting part had not suffered the passing of time or at least the didn’t seem to. It was difficult to appreciate such a place with so much going on against it. And yet, it had a different feel than many other places.
Katherine had inherited the gym from her boyfriend. Her story was very tragic: she had been married for about six months, until her boyfriend was diagnoses with cancer of the blood, also called leukemia. She had tried to make his last days the best of his life and had no idea if she had succeeded or not. Most of the time she spent it in the bathroom crying and tryng to be strong for him, which wasn’t easy at all.
The moment she saw him without any hair, was the moment she realized he wasn’t going to make it. It’s difficult to explain but she just knew it. So what Kath did was making everything fun, no matter what it was. It was a very tiring task for her but she couldn’t stop thinking of the many people that had such a disease and died alone in a hospital. She did no want that for the love of her life.
His father was a world-renowned boxer. He had even participated in some Olympic Games but hadn’t won any medals. That’s why there was such a large boxing ring in the middle of the gym. It was him who left it to his son and that son gave it to Katherine as he though t he could be helping her by giving her something she could use to win some money by selling on a very high price.
The gymnasium was actually that expensive, not only for the very good location it had, but for all the machines inside, which were very last generation. Or at least the last generation in the times they had been opened. It was tragic to think that her boyfriend’s dad had died and only months after his own son had suffered the same faith. And between all of that, there was her. She had no idea what to do but she knew fro moment one that she wanted to check the place out and maybe then she could come up with a clear idea of what to do.
That night, she couldn’t asleep. The memories of her husband always invaded her mind late in the afternoon. Besides, the gym certainly made her feel strange because it was something that was supposed to be his but he never got to properly enjoyed it. Jay, that was his name, had always loved to go to the gym and workout a lot. She told him that he shouldn’t force himself so much but he still did anyway.
Katherine did not have a very long time to think about the future of the place. That was because the bills had also been inherited and they became coming in rather fast. For a closed place, the consumption of energy was pretty high and also of water. She would have to make repairs before selling if that was her plan. So she looked for the best people and paid them to fix whatever was wrong with the place.
Thankfully, Jay had also left some money to actually do the repairs. He actually remembered about the repairs and had taken it all out into consideration. So some weeks later, several workers moved around the machines trying to make the electric network work properly and cleaning ever single part of the park. They also had to fix several water pipes and even the air conditioning, which hadn’t been working for a very ling time.
As an accountant, Katherine’s job was one of those that required a certain amount of dedication. She couldn’t stop doing it for a moment because then all of her calculations and proceedings would become meaningless and she would have to start all over again. But the gym started to grow on her slowly and she often wondered what would happen if she decided to keep it, instead of following her husband’s desires to make someone else make it work.
She had been reading a lot and thought she new what the place needed and how she could manage it. Besides, the place was already a very costly spot in the city, so giving it up just like that would prove a little bit stupid from the real estate point of view. It was an easy decision. After all, she still needed to earn a living in order no to depend on the gym in any case, whether she sold it or kept it.
Katherine visited the workers who were about to finish the repairs. The foul smell had left the building and, although the dust was already there, the overall ambiance of the place had become quite nice. As she wondered through the boxing area, a man of about fifty years old came in out of nowhere and stood like a statue, watching the ring as if he was watching something rather incredible. His eyes seemed to become watery but he didn’t cleaned them with anything.
Kath walked towards him and asked who he was. He presented himself as Mr. Burke, a trainer for boxers that had retired not so long ago. He was a friend of Jay’s father and had worked in the gym as a trainer for the young kids that wanted to learn how to box in order to become world champions. For many, it was an actual dream to become an important athlete and be recognized around the globe. After all, the neighborhood was very different several years ago.
The young woman listened to the man’s stories and realized there were lots of people that really love a space like that one where they could become whatever they wanted to be. She didn’t like the idea of having people telling you what to do but it was nice to have people that could help you if you asked them. And then she realized she had already decided to make the gym come back to life, once more.
The amount of money she spent was astronomical. She had to work twice as hard, pay a lot of people for more repairs and creating a safer environment respecting all the rules that had to be respected. She was able to sell many of the older machines for good prices in order to buy some more that were more modern. The cafeteria area was improved but she decided to eliminate the enormous kitchen and instead use some of that space for a nutritionist office, which she thought was very necessary.
Every single Sunday, when no one was there, she loved to come by and check how things are coming. The works would still take some more time but she was already seeing the future before her eyes. It was exciting to possibly give back to the community something they had lost such a long time go, a place where not only they could come to exercise but also to find like minded people and grow in various ways.
Every night she thought of the many things she still had to do in order to make the gym work and be able to properly run it. But when she was done thinking about numbers and possibilities, Katherine would close her eyes and try to imagine her husband right there, caressing her hair, telling her everything was going to work out fine. She cried and fell asleep every night.