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Sports & Recreation

Best Gym 

Valencia Street Muscle

Maybe you like big corporate chain gyms. They have their perks. The anonymity, the way they jerk you around with the prices and contracts and ask, "How much weight do you want to lose?" Oops, getting bitter ... let's focus on the positive. For those of us not into big corporate gyms, there is Valencia Street Muscle, which plays a lot of Sleater-Kinney over the sound system, and every time we go in there, we see the authors of books we've read. (Local authors of smart and poetic books, that is.) Plenty of the men wear black socks and have beards, and none of them seem interested in using the workout time as pickup time. It has all the usual amenities of a well-outfitted gym, and you can easily walk in and sign up for a month for $70 without all the BS. In fact, its Web site sports a "Prices" page, and you can sign up online. The place is clean but not shiny; it is fine, once inside, to be fat, transgendered, or new to exercising; and did we mention the Sleater-Kinney?

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