The Telesthetic Gym

30 Mar

Fredo Bianco, a San Francisco body trainer, did not begin to plan a gym of his own until John Fell became his psychiatrist and started to treat him.

The exercise guidance specialist worked in a series of Bay Area gymnasia, always dreaming of some day running his own. But painful depression drove him to isolating himself until he finally sought a psychiatric therapist to help him escape what was ailing him.

Dr. Fell had his office in the Marina District, in a neighborhood taken over by young yuppies.

Fredo began feeling better at once, his mood improving with every additional session talking with his doctor. The pair grew increasingly friendly and familiar with each other, since Fell chose not to follow the rule of his profession never to socialize privately with any patient.

One sunny spring afternoon, the two men took a long walk through the Marina Green, westward toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Tall and gangly, John set the brisk pace for them.

“I’ve been thinking about starting my own gym here in the Marina neighborhood,” he told Fredo. “Don’t be surprised, I had the idea long before you ever came to my office.”

The short, stocky ex-patient turned his head in surprise. “Why would you want to go into business on your own? The city is packed with gyms. We have them all over the place.”

The psychiatrist grinned. “I know, but none of them offers what I could provide for the public.”

“What is that?”

“Training and opportunity in the practice of telepathy between human minds,” replied John. “It is an area that I have studied for over ten years now, and I have absorbed a lot of knowledge and practice in it. The two activities, body-improvement and psychic communication, go together. They can go on simultaneously. That has been proven in gyms in England and Australia, believe me.”

Fredo was in silent thought for a time. “I guess such a fusion is possible, but I would want to know a lot more about this telepathy you mention, John?”

“I will help you become familiar with the concept and its method,” promised the latter.

At the therapist’s office on Lombard St., the pair met and planned their project after finishing their daily work schedule.

“Thirty minutes of uninterrupted quiet, involved in creative meditation and the right kind of physical activity, can calm the most inner self. It would be good to keep the eyes closed and concentrate on how one is breathing in and out.

“The individual will be taught to use their imagination, focusing the mind on some point outside and above the exercising body. The mind will become still and receptive with time.

“We shall teach our customers to project a line of light from their minds, upward to a center of the spirit. This should be about six inches above the head and seem like a brilliant sun and source of new energy to him or her.

“Eventually, the exerciser will be able to visualize an extraordinary, pure white light pouring forth out of this bright focal point above the head. Then, we will tell this person to envision another with whom they wish to communicate telepathically.

“In the final stage, there with be a telesthetic linkage to the distant human being that one sees in one’s mind.

“That is the secret that will make the exerciser a competent psychic, Fredo.”

“It can successfully happen?” asked the latter in wonder.

“I am confident of this combination of gymnastic exercise and telepathy,” said the psychiatrist, “because I have taught the method to a large number of my patients in the past.”

John Fell provided the funds for Fredo to rent an empty store front on Chestnut St. and fill it with exercise equipment such as stationary bicycles and thread-mills. The physical trainer practiced the routine that his partner taught him and soon discovered that he had sufficient psychic capacity to transmit messages over a distance. “I am receiving whatever you project out to me along the marina,” announced the medico after testing his colleague. “Once we start operating, there will be a multitude of exercisers who practice telepathy here in San Francisco.”

Hired carpenters constructed wooden walls dividing the large store area into smaller compartments that could be maintained as dark, nearly lightless rooms full of stationary bicycles and thread-mills. John explained his concept of bicycling as the central activity that would facilitate telepathy.

“The part of the human brain where psychic powers reside is called the parahippocampus gyrus. It can be studied and observed through MRI imaging. When there is telepathy, the brain is in a state with the dominance of theta waves, which are slower than those that exist in everyday consciousness. That will be the goal of what the exercisers on our equipment will be seeking.”

“Now I can understand that you are correct, my friend,” smiled Fredo. “As you yourself thought mr to do, I will be teaching those I will be instructing that they must come to visualize the person they wish to contact. And in their thoughts they have to imagine there is a silver tube connecting them to that person. This tunnel is seen as full of energy through which messages can be transmitted to the other, second individual. Without overstraining oneself, you communicate with the individual you have chosen to send your words to.”

“I am proud of you, Fredo,” said the therapist. “The exerciser has to remain both active and composed, never nervous, always relaxed. One must truly believe that it can and will be achieved, with positive confidence that success will be reached in time.”

A crowd of the curious filled the official opening of the Telesthenic Gym, many looking like exercise and body-building enthusiasts, a smaller number probably interested in psychic matters.

A huge bruin, around six and a half feet tall, entered alone, dressed entirely in black. He appeared a confident, dominating figure and made his way to the long table where John and Fredo stood talking to a small group of potential members of the new exercise center.

The gigantic stranger introduced himself in a strong baritone voice.

“Let me introduce myself. I am Cy Holder, president of the Bay Area Psychic Association. We are the main group of professional, full-time psychics in San Francisco and the whole region. Our goals are the improvement, public acceptance, and progress of all extra-sensory activities.

“I have been authorized by our executive board to come here and offer membership with us. My hope is that I am able to sign you up at once, today.” The big man grinned, first at Fredo, then at John.

It was from the latter that a reply emerged at once.

“I am sorry to have to decline your offer, sir. We have no interest in affiliating ourselves with anyone else. Our purpose here is to help people achieve their highest degree of psychic empathy and effectiveness. We shall not be providing any telepathic services to them, but instead enabling them to do what they choose to carry out in this particular field.

“If we succeed in our aspirations, men and woman will become active members of an enlarged community of psychic operators. They will not be passive consumers of what a small number of adept individuals provide to them.

“In other words, our hope is to act as enablers of shared, general talents that many persons will enjoy on their own.”

The rocky face of Cy Helder could not conceal the storm brewing in the giant’s mind.

“You mean to tell me that you are turning down my proposal that you join with us? That you intend to go off on your own? That you do not wish to cooperate with other psychics, many of whom have operated for years, for decades, here in the San Francisco area?

“I cannot understand your negativity and stubbornness, not at all. What is your real motive? What might be your hidden aim in setting up what you call this telesthetic Gym?”

He glared with ire and furious indignation at the psychiatrist who dared try to be an innovator in a sector that he and his organization considered their exclusive monopoly.

Both John and Fredo stood their ground, not flinching in the slightest. They resisted the threatening looks sent their way, solidifying their refusal to back down.

All at once, the professional psychic spun around and stalked out of the gym with visible vigor.

The two partners turned and looked at each other, united in what John had said to the huge intruder who had invaded their opening.

Seized by anger that surrounded a core of unconscious fear, Cy Helder latter that day called a meeting of the board of officers of the Psychic Association of San Francisco.

The site was his own apartment and consulting office in the Mission District.

When the full contingent of leaders had assembled, Cy addressed what he saw as the danger threatening the future of their craft.

“Our profession is at risk from a development that could take away from us a great fraction of clients and customers. It is the opening of a competitive venture termed the Telesthenic Gym. By combining physical exercise with psychic training, it foreshadows a major loss of business by the clairvoyants and telepaths who belong to our institution. Our future well-being is at stake.

“I cannot describe for you all the harm that may befall our many members, but I foresee a tremendous decline in the number of survivors in the years to come. We shall face a catastrophe if this strange, unwelcome psychic gymnasium succeeds. I guarantee that others will spring up, copying its example.”

“What can we do to stop what is happening?” said one of the officers, a small man who for years had contacted the dead for widows and widowers on Russian Hill.

Cy made a sardonic grimace. “We are not without tools or weapons. Starting tomorrow morning, I plan to visit city officials and politicians with whom I am acquainted. My intention will be to expose this novelty for a dangerous fraud that will harm the people of the San Francisco area. They have to close it down as fast as possible before it takes permanent root in the city.”

“We must support you with all the means available to our membership,” proposed an obese woman. “I suggest that all of us start to mobilize our people for a campaign against these interlopers.”

The new gym was from the first day of operation packed with recruits who enrolled themselves. Every machine in all the compartments entered continual use. New employees were needed as the hours were extended.

“I never imagined such rapid growth of membership,” said John to his partner and manager, Fredo.

But unexpected city health and safety inspectors appeared early one morning during the fourth week the business was open. They made a detailed investigation of all sections and aspects of the gym and its building, taking notes on everything each of them found.

Fredo grew worried about what might result. “This is what your enemies do when they want to close down your business for some selfish reason,” he told John. “I suspect that the psychic professionals led by that big guy who visited the first day and tried to get us to join up in his association. He frightened me a lot, and he may using his political pull to set the city departments against us. That could be it: we have been targeted by those who don’t want us to be spreading knowledge of mental telepathy.”

“That could be it,” said John with an audible grumble.

The gym was sealed with locks in the middle of the night.

Closing orders from the Department of Health appeared on all the outside doors. They proclaimed the structure unfit for any commercial use whatever. The Telesthenic Gym was forbidden to allow any subscriber use its facility or equipment. The enterprise was tagged a hazard to public health.

Finding their enterprise legally closed up, John and Fredo repaired to a nearby coffee shop to confer and set what plans they could.

“Should we get ourselves a lawyer?” asked the psychiatrist.

“I have seen many situations where that did not help at all,” opined Fredo. “We may have to sit tight and wait with patience for things to change by themselves.”

“What is going to happen next?”

“That remains to be seen,” said Fredo with a moan. “I think I’m going to travel around to the other gyms this afternoon and find out what people think about what happened to us.”

The physical trainer found that sympathy for the new Telesthenic Gym was shared by everyone he spoke with.

At a Polk St. facility where he had once worked the manager-owner had been moved by the injustice done by the municipal government.

“There is no doubt who is behind this closing of your place. It was the professional psychics who make good livings without competition from people like you, who can also improve your clients physical health. They are shameless. But all of us here are behind you. It could have happened to any of us, I believe.”

Later that afternoon, Fredo visited a fitness center on Lombard St. Here he was also surrounded with sincere sympathy.

“The closing of your gym was an assault on all of us. We must stick together or else we will be suffering these crimes for years to come.”

Similar sentiments came to Fredo at the Bay Club on the Embarcadero located off of Greenwich St.

These repeated at stops he made on the Tenderloin, then again at a gym at Van Ness and Geary.

Wherever he went, the support he discovered was unanimous.

Fredo, deeply touched and impressed, went to the apartment of his partner full of encouragement and optimism.

John was surprised that his partner returned to see him early that same evening.

Fredo looked as if something was animating him. The psychiatrist asked him to sit down in the living room and tell him what he had learned from making a round of several San Francisco gyms and exercise centers.

“Everyone agrees that we have been unjustly closed down,” reported the trainer. “There is absolute sympathy with us everywhere. No one gloats at the shut-down of a rival with a new mission never tried out before.”

“That is good to hear,” nodded John. “But it doesn’t get us reopened, not at all.”

“But there was one suggestion, and it was made by different persons in some of the gyms. They mad a proposal that we open again, but elsewhere in this same general area around the Marina.”

“How could we ever do such a thing? All our equipment is still locked up in the building that we leased. How are we supposed to get it released to us by the city?”

All at once Fredo smiled. “Some said they would be willing to make contributions to a new opening in a different location. There are gyms that are eager to loan us machines out of their own stock that is being used. Others said that they could make us loans of needed cash to get us back on our feet.”

John’s face appeared to light up. “They were serious in what they said?”

“I believe that these people keep their word. My experiences with gym-owners and managers has always been positive.”

The partners stared at each other several seconds before John spoke again.

“Let’s start planning our future gym, a new one. We have to find some vacant building that is available for us.”

“I noticed one on Lombard St. when I was coming here on the bus.”

“Let’s go and see what it looks like then,” said the psychiatric therapist with a sudden laugh.

The pair headed out into the evening air to take a walk.

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