Thoughts on the Gym (Fall 2010)

The gym means many things to many people.  It’s a physical escape, a neutralizer of guilt, a social meeting place and from my perspective, a treasure trove of candid observations.  As somewhat of a “resident” candid observer, I dare say any gym attendee can recognize these moments.

I go to the gym for one reason.  I really like the feeling I get when I’m leaving.  That is pretty much why I go, so I can leave.  While I’m there, the absolute last thing I want to do is anything that places that goal of leaving farther away from me. That being said, I don’t really want to talk to anyone while I’m at the gym, which I don’t think that makes me cruel and unfriendly.  In fact, I find my refusal to distract you (my unwelcome gym greeter) as a great service.  Not only that, but have you been on an abductor/adductor machine?  Have you been on a bench press? Is that really when you want to answer the ever-generic “what’s new?”  I think not.  But I will say this, my irritation at hearing “what’s new” is nothing compared to the horror of hearing the words “Hey Miss Malikow!”  In the end, gym etiquette as I understand it to be requires a polite nod and nothing more.  The gym is a special place where rudeness is not earmarked by ignoring those you know, but rather keeping them from their goal and mine: to leave.

Speaking of unwelcome distractions, why is Paula Deen on the gym television sets?  And why is she dipping something in gravy while I’m on an elliptical? I consider the gym to be a gravy-free zone before it is a judgment-free zone (a subtle nod to Planet Fitness).

This is what I have to say about locker rooms.  They’re called “locker” rooms, not “please, stranger, disrobe before me” rooms.  There are stalls with doors and locks.  They’re my best friends, as are those who use them to change.

As for gym attire, I feel confident in saying polo shirts should be avoided.  That is, unless that back door leads to a golf course I’ve failed to notice all this time.  The same goes for bathing suit tops at gyms where there are no pools.  Stop disabling our imaginations by wearing clothes that leave nothing left for it to do.  Wife-beaters, can you hear me?  Trade the unsightly tops for t-shirts of appropriate looseness.  Resolve to do so now and listen close for the sigh of relief from us all.  There it is.

Before you start thinking that I do nothing but catalogue the failures of others at the gym, please allow me to tell you a few of my own.  I’ll be the first to cleanse my conscience by way of public confession and tell you that sometimes I walk away from a treadmill, return with a paper towel and the bottle of cleaner and think “Well, these treadmills could not look more alike, which sweat is mine?”  Or perhaps I should have asked: “At what angle was I watching Paula Deen deep fry that turkey?”  Neither works, which of course means I have no choice but to take a shot in the dark.  Sometimes I’ll wipe down a few for good measure.  Speaking of treadmills, I sincerely hope someone else has almost tripped while changing the tune on their iPod.  Let’s just say I let the tracks run while I do.

All in all, I like the gym, or at the very least the way it looks in the taillights of my car as I depart.

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