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.