The Gym

I would choose a week of record high temperatures to decide it is high time I kick my butt back to the gym. Thankfully, instead of making the whole transition unbearably miserable, I think the heat has actually eased my gym re-entry. Since I never stop sweating anyway, I might as well get some prolonged health benefits from it, right?

To be honest, it would be too embarrassing to actually be honest about how long my gym hiatus has actually been. Lets just say that far too many weeks (and months) have gone by while graduate school provided me with a convenient excuse for getting soft. This is the longest stretch in four years that I have managed to avoid those obnoxious-yet-satisfying sweat-fests at the local gym with any regularity. But no more. PLUS, when all is said and done, it’s a minor time commitment with potentially major benefits, right? Kind of a no-brainer.

However, my stress-induced mini-fat-cation has provided me with some new perspective as I go back to the gym.  While busting my butt as much as possible on the treadmill, the conveniently placed mirrors let me do some pret-ty entertaining people-watching. There’s nothing like getting observational at a gym, let me tell you . . .

First: Mirrors, Mirrors, on the Walls. . .

Have you ever noticed that the number of mirrors your average gym is bordering on outrageous? It’s not like anyone’s suiting up for ballet in these places, but they are EVERYWHERE. The effect is far more suited to kinky fetish sex rooms than a workout zone, if you ask me. I mean, do I really need to see myself from three angles while running on the treadmill? Ultimately, I think it must be a sadistic form of motivation, because even hott people can look pretty bad on a treadmill… and if you look bad, I guess you’ll be motivated to keep working out, right? Twisted, but I guess I get it.

Second: Who’s Who?

I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but every gym comes fully equipped with a pre-set cast of characters, almost like they’re part of the requisite equipment. Maybe you think I’m just reading into the snippets I see/hear too much, but I challenge you to make it to the gym without seeing at least a few of these folks!  They’re  all in your gym, for your viewing edification, like some sort of bizarro representation of universal human attributes run amok.

1.) The Gym Rat

The Gym Rat is always at the gym, no matter when you go. Sometimes they travel in packs, but there is always at least one, no matter which gym you hit. He probably doesn’t think that women belong in the free-weight area. Every set of reps is followed up with immediate and intensive muscle checking, as if there might be wildly immediate changes. He always feel macho and cut . . . no matter how much or how little weight he lifts. Often found complete with protein drinks, bulging veins, and armless t-shirts, this is your average Gym Rat.

2.) The Workout Couple

These two love-birds are not always at the gym, but they are never at the gym solo. They run next to each-other on treadmills, sometimes with matching his&hers water bottles and sweat towels swinging at their sides. Even if they have the ability to work out alone, these amorous adrenaline junkies exclusively favor paired exercises, like passing the medicine ball as they do crunches towards each-other. Although you would think their nauseating hip attached-ness would make their work-out suffer, the Gym Couple  is usually quite good-looking, but very un-friendly.

3.) The Grunter/Pep Talker

This can be either a guy or girl, but they must be EMBARRASSINGLY loud. Loud enough that people around them can hear through their assorted ear-buds. I used to work out with a Pep Talker  (I called her “Judy”) who would yell things like “YEAH BABY!” or “WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT!” or “ONE MORE, ONE MORE!”. It was very surprising every time. Judy’s counterpart is your average Grunter, who feels that the volume of their grunts are inherently linked to the quality of their workout results.

4.) The Over-Eager Personal Trainer

You can tell the over-eager personal trainer by their cut muscles an the death glares being shot at them by softer-looking individuals on treadmills nearby. If they approach you during your workout to ask about training you, this also is a dead giveaway. The Trainer-Tastic Person also has been a personal trainer for so long that they do not actually know how to walk anywhere anymore, so they do this kind of small jog-walk anywhere they go.

5.) The Naked Locker Room Woman

Most ladies know that nudity-levels while changing in the locker room are not about your comfort level with your body, but about respecting OTHER people’s potential preferences NOT to see your naked bod. At the very least, you usually attempt to keep your back to the room until somewhat clothed. At least underwear. BUT, there is invariably one lady, usually a rotund older woman who does not believe in hair-maintenance, who strips down to the buff and then engages in full-frontal conversation with strangers whose sole goal is to change in peace.

6.) The Conversationalist

This stranger talks to everyone. They bring up workout tips, they ask “do you come here often”, they notice your “progress” and feel the need to encourage you . . . but they ultimately wait to talk to you until you are at the hardest, most miserable moment of your workout. Then, as the sweat runs in rivulets down your neck, arms, chest, and face; and as you gasp for breath, resisting the feeling that you are going to black out or vomit, they make their move. The only way to get them to stop is to talk back brusquely, and you invariably feel like a gaspingly out-of-shape fatty who is also a jerk.

7.) The Person-Of-Indiscriminate-Gender

This is pretty self-explanatory. Sometimes you really can’t tell. They’re jacked enough that they don’t have much of a chest, but they have big pecs. They are wearing big gym shorts, and their t-shirt covers any distinguishing frontal body parts. Usually their hair is short and spikey, thus working as the late-nineties gender-neutral cherry-on-the-androgynous-top.

8.) The Future Exhibitionist

This guy/gal is ALWAYS sneaking peaks at their body when they think nobody is looking. My most recently observed future-exhibitionist is a girl who is always at my gym at night. She flips her shirt up and stares at her stomach quite frequently, checking out her tummy as she ellipticals her way through the evening. She, like others of her kind, likes showing skin, and would probably someday become some sort of flasher if deprived of gym exposure time.

9.) The Creeper, also known as the Awkward Eye Contact Guy

This guy is always awkwardly staring at you whenever you happen to graze eye contact, even in the mirrors. He never breaks eye-contact, even though you never directly engage back. It’s really uncomfortable, actually.

10.) Me

I am that girl who keeps to herself, tries not to make noise of any kind, drinks a lot of water, and sort of sucks at being athletic. I like to think I represent more of the normal end of things, but really, who knows?

My own Dubious Gym Wisdom:

Tenet #1: Be a sweaty beast.

Tenet #2: If you are wearing make-up, you clearly are not there for a work-out.

Tenet #3: Since you will sweat like a beast (see Tenet #1), you must hydrate like one as well.

Tenet #4: 

Tenet#5: Listen to ghetto-fabulous music until you know every word to those songs you will NEVER sing in front of your parents. One prime example is “Bottoms Up”, by Trey (featuring Nikki Minaj).

Tenet #6: Use the Free weights, despite any weird looks y9u might get from the meat-heads or gym-rats…

Tenet #7: Actually Try. Sometimes you just have to put your back into it.

Tenet #8: Remember your motivation. Make your fat cry.

Tenet #8: Anything is better than nothing, as far as workouts go.

Tenet #9: Do not allow yourself to make excuses. Lots of people with busier lives don’t make excuses the way I am capable of making excuses.

Tenet #10: Run. Because it’s hard. Just run your butt off as much as possible.

Published by Abby

Dabbling in decoratives is an ongoing obsession. I love having a go at This, That and the Other. . . tackling projects that tickle my fancy, hoarding costumes (for the "Someday" that I own a dress-up tea-house for grown-ups) and hosting themed parties whenever I am not immersed in teaching French and Writing to high school students. In the interest of full transparency, there's something serious you should know: I overuse the ellipsis . . . frequently. Embarassingly enough, it seems to be the punctuation that best captures my stream of thought as it flits off of one subject and towards the next!

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