Saturday, May 14, 2011



Deciding to go to the gym is the ultimate battle of mental and physical wits. I am sure there are people out there who love the gym. I've honestly never met one, but I can imagine they exist. I have to believe, for example, that the huge guy with the perfectly sculpted biceps and abs or that little chick with the 24" waist in the tiny, spandex outfit either is evidence that God exists and does indeed grant wishes or that going to the gym 8 hours a day does produce an idealized result somewhere other than in an Angelina Jolie film.

Recently, I moved from an all-women's gym with terrible hours (seriously, a closing time of 6:00 p.m.?) to a more standard version. I started out just doing the cardio thing--it was safe, it was somewhat convenient, I kinda knew how to work the equipment, and if I missed a good TV show, I could watch it to distract myself. I always knew that I would have to branch out into the weights section eventually--not because I was really that desperate to shrink the size of my backside, but because I needed to preserve my sanity. Fifty-five minutes on an elliptial machine actually makes it possible to identify not with the boredom that an assembly-line worker must experience, but the insatiable grinding that the assembly-line itself goes through 12 hours a day for the sake of the American economy.

Unfortunately, there are a few phenomena that characterize a gym's weightlifting section:

Groups of college students, newly released from academic bonds, that visit the gym in herds. These are generally single-sex units that congregate around a piece of machinery or a lifting apparatus. They will assign roles as follows--one lifts, one spots, and two or three more will giggle incessantly, tell ridiculous jokes, or discuss how much more weight they can lift than the one actually doing the lifting, never to prove their claims.

Texters who use "down time" on lifting machines as an opportunity to catch up with friends and family on their unlimited phone plans. Of course, a series of reps on any machine requires a short recovery, but a 20 to 30 second count often is not enough time to reflect upon what that girl was wearing or what he did last night in the appropriate OMG language. This results in a lot of bench-sitters, maximizing machines they aren't using, and they generally come away claiming they had a full one-hour workout when that workout was actually disproportionally divided between actually working out and making sure their Droids and iPhones live up to their warrantees.

Non-sprayers, who use machines in sweat-splotched clothing, but because they weren't on those machines for more than 5 minutes, they feel no need to spray it off for the next person.

Members of the opposite sex who insist upon staring at you when you're in a compromising position. I can only reflect on this from a woman's perspective, and I can honestly say that there is nothing more ridiculous than a guy taking a peek when you're on one of those thigh machines. Seriously, guy? You're that curious about how boys and girls are different down there, STILL?

On the other hand, watching all of this happening does distract one from the workout that me, among so many others, can't stand in the first place. I suppose there is always a trade off.

11 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I haven't been to a gym in years, since buying an elliptical. Sure it can be soul-destroying to log hours in a basement, but reading your post makes me grateful I don't have to watch someone texting on the equipment.

JUST ME said...

Oh, the gym. The weights area is hilarious because there's usually that ONE GUY who's lifting wayyyy too much and grunting like an animal and generally making a fool out of himself but no one's going to say anything because his guns are so big he could crush your head like an almond.

Jennifer Fabulous said...

Oh gosh, I despise going to the gym. It's my least favorite thing. And my body shows it, I'm afraid. Gah!

In the past month, however, I have started going to zumba classes to keep in shape, which I like way better. It's mostly girls in the class and nobody stares at your lady parts...

Have you tried zumba?

It's me said...

how i wish i can go to the gym everyday..nice sharing out here!

Sara said...

I go to an all women's gym too but it is great. And I do hate the people there to socialize and not work out. I put my iPod in my ears and listen to my music while working out. It is most efficient and effective that way.

The only thing I hate about it is that they open at 8am and I would really love to work out before going to work.

dive said...

Eww …
I found much the same atmosphere at my old gym, which is why I cleared out an unused bedroom and spent a year's gym fees on installing a proper home gym. The freedom to use it whenever I want, to dress inappropriately and to listen to whatever music I want makes a world of difference.
Plus the shower is just across the hall and there's only ever me in there.
I've had the gym a couple of years now so it's free! Yay!

Mike said...

I average roughly 4.5 visits per week to the gym. Like anything some days are better than others, however I never "hate" it; often I actually enjoy the workout. What does bother me however is the eye contact. My initial thought was..."what are YOU looking at ?!". But then again, if we made eye contact I was looking in your direction too. My routine is now to simply to go about my business, keep my head down and get out of there in under an hour.

Snowcatcher said...

I haven't been to a gym in years (ride my bike now instead), but this cracked me up because you are so on target, and we didn't even have texting the last time I went!

supreem said...

hhahahahhahha that's hilarious. I was at the gym this morning... and I think I witnessed every scenario you mentioned. I happen to be one of those people who love, love, love the gym, but am not blessed with the aforementioned body types... :x It's a major stress reliever for me. :D

The Terra Studios - StudioGaleria said...

As a society we have been neglecting the truly healthy alternatives to the gym - the gym, like everything else has been packaged and sold to us as the ultimate, desirable place to "get perfect"...
Once hooked on that narcissistic notion, there is no other way out but "plugging yourself onto the noise" and away form any good interaction/possible relationship - you may get happily laid in.... get your exercise, have fun maybe even loose a few inches here and there - but, you are to deep into someone else's program to get a life of your own...

I'd say. Stay away from those places and .... you know!

Lana Gramlich said...

I used to be one of those people who loved the gym, actually. You wouldn't know it to see my bloated figure these days, but I used to have a major issue with exercise obsession. I worked out about 5-7 hours a day. I was in great shape. Somehow I don't miss any of it anymore (& I don't mind being significantly rounder these days, either.)