Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gym Rules

Suburbanites are so opposed to being seen on the streets of their neighbourhood that instead of taking their recreational exercise outdoors, they pay for the privilege of going to specially enclosed indoor day camps filled with torture instruments that make them grimace and sweat while at the same time deluding them they’re going to live longer. Otherwise known as the gym.

There are certain rules at the gym. The main rule is: don’t look at anybody, you pervert. Even though gyms are about as sexy as bank managers. Because although everyone’s striving for the perfect body, it’s all about the journey – none of us have got there yet, and most of us never will. If we had, we’d be living in California showing it off, not suburban DC with its cold, grey winters and close, clammy summers that last from May until October.

Second rule: don’t talk to anybody, except to grunt when asking if you can ‘work in’ with them on a torture machine. When grunting, don’t look them in the eye. Usually when someone talks to me and makes a vague gesture, I’m listening to my iPod and have to take the earphones out to ask them to repeat themselves, which makes them irritable. What else would they have been asking other than if they could ‘work in’, stupid? Do you always sweat like a bison? Do you really think this is ultimately going to enhance your sex appeal? The only time I talked to anyone was to tell a genial old bloke how much I liked his t-shirt, which showed Bush and Cheney above the caption: Meet The Fuckers.

But there’s no room for politics at the gym (just like everywhere else), which brings me to rule three: talk sports in the locker room. When you get the lunchtime jock crowd, rushing in for an hour of pumping and heaving between manly business deals, they use those five minutes of changing time to talk about last night’s game, usually to complete strangers, the assumption being that if you’re in a gym locker room then you’ll know all about last night’s game. There’s always been a game the night before, somewhere, in some sport, so it’s easy to bluff along. “Yeah, amazing play,” you can venture. “What a finish.” “Can’t wait for the playoffs.” “He came out of Duke, right?” “But thinking about it, what a supremely pointless waste of fucking time for all concerned.” Careful with the last one, though.

Final rule: use as much energy as possible, and not necessarily your own energy. Until we’ve burnt every last atom of available fossil fuel, it is our duty as human beings to exhaust our dwindling supplies in line with the President’s attitude on climate change – which is, we don’t give a fuck because the energy crisis is going to be a problem for the next generation, not mine. Yesterday I was on an exercise bike behind a woman walking on a step machine. Not only was the apparatus using electricity to aid her stationary perambulation, but she was on her mobile phone for 25 minutes, and watching the TV screen attached to the front of the machine too. That’s three sources of energy wastage while doing a simple activity – walking – that she could have done on the street outside, for free.

Which begs the question why I wasn’t out on a real bike instead of sitting on one fixed to the floor of the gym sneering at soccer moms on step machines. But if you ask such questions, you don’t understand the nature of suburbia. I’m no rebel. I’m just keeping a low profile out here, abiding by the rules, and keeping the streets free so cars can drive faster.


SEKim said...

I almost clocked the guy next to me on the elliptical on Mon who was yapping on his cell phone (there is a no cell phone rule in the gym). Unless you're a transplant surgeon on call there is absolutely reason for you to be talking on your phone, so shut the hell up.

Oh, and middle-aged woman who insists on weighing herself naked: please, your bra and panties really aren't going to skew the count that much so spare us your sagginess!


No Good Boyo said...

Is "sneering" a euphemism for "longing for the buttery joys that nestle between their glowing hams"? It ought to be.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

That would be 'leering', dear boyo. And like I said, it's a lust-lacking zone.

K, there's a cell phone ban at my gym too, but it's blithely ignored by people I'm pretty sure are not transplant surgeons. Bloke on the bike next to me this morning was blethering on too, I could even hear it above the iPod. I wish I could be ruder, but it's the soup thing all over again (see last entry) - if he said to me, "Am I disturbing you?" I'd probably respond, "Not at all, good fellow. Continue your inane conversation for as long as it takes to relate to an unknown party the unexpurgated details of your daughter's fantastically important lacrosse game last weekend."

whiteray said...

I just started going to a gym in the past few weeks, and I made the mistake of saying hi to someone. I survived the withering glare, but it made me feel for a moment as if I were back in eighth grade, standing dumbly in the middle of the cafeteria after dropping my lunch tray. (Nice blog. The Half-Hearted Dude sent me here.)

Any major dude with half a heart said...

Hahaha, I know places where the idea of you not being rude would damage a number of keyboards and the occasional monitor. Of course, I applaud it...

One day in gym I sat in the sauna when my fellow sweaters engaged me in a conversation about cricket. The incisiveness of their analyses was undermined by a large measure of blunt ignorance, an attribute for which I tend to have no patience. So I was preparing to present my latest greatest chums with a counter-opinion marked by insight and erudition. Until I remembered that I was sitting there stark-bollock naked, which is probably not the ideal attire for a spot of pontificating on the urgent topics of the day. So I joined in the general moaning about the selectors' joint failure to recognise that Herschelle Gibbs being crap because he interrupted his run of seven 100s with a 12 not out and a duck (or whatever).