I love my gym. Oh, I still hate working out about 75% of the time, but my gym is non-stop entertainment. It’s as if Wal-Mart had a gym. In general I try to keep my head down, avoid eye contact and be as completely unassuming as possible. I figure I don’t want to anyone judging me, so I try not to judge anyone else. We’re all there for the same reason, because we want to workout and are poor and/or cheap. But sometimes it’s hard not to notice the, um, “eccentricities” of the other exercisers.
I always wonder if the world is full of weirdos, if I just notice all the weirdos, or if eventually we are all the weirdos. Yesterday when I was using the torture chamber known as the overhead tricep extension machine (seriously, look at this thing, why did I think it was a good idea?) and repeatedly hitting myself in the head with the handles while trying to adjust the weights, I’m pretty sure I was the weirdo. But at least I wasn’t the guy who never uses any equipment, wanders the entire perimeter of the gym (in jeans) over and over while swinging his arms like a windmill on the loose during category 5 hurricane. I can’t take my eyes off him because I keep trying to figure out if there is a pattern to his flailings and he’s on to some new super arm workout that the rest of us haven’t caught on to yet. I don’t know how he hasn’t knocked anyone unconscious.
My gym is divided up into four sections, which I’m guessing is probably the same as most gyms: the cardio area (treadmills, ellipticals, etc.), strength training machines (lat pull, thigh abductor, etc.), free weights (dumbbells, weight benches), and a big open area for things like kettle bells, those big stability bouncy ball things, and whatever other lunacy personal trainers are inflicting on people these days.
Until recently I never ventured out of the cardio area, which has it’s own form of crazy. Like the girl who runs on the treadmill in flip flops, the guy who randomly yells out, “WHOOOOOOO!!!!” on the elliptical machine (and looks like a forgotten member of an 80’s glamrock band), or the guy who cranks the treadmill speed up to 15 mph, lifts himself up on to the side rails and just touches the belt with his tippy toes. Closely related to him is the 75 year old lady who puts the incline up to 900% (approximately), the speed up to 88 mph (approximately) and then hangs on for dear life like she is going to shoot off through a hole in time and space. I wouldn’t even have noticed her except for the fact that she glares at everyone like we were trying to steal her man. I accidentally made eye contact with her once on the way to the locker room and she gave me such a, “Bitch, what is your problem?” look that I was both horrified and impressed.
I’ve lost over 50 pounds (it’s not as impressive as it sounds, I’m still chunky) and need to firm up. So, I broke out of my cardio comfort zone and into the strength training machine area. This doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but if you’ve been reading here for any length of time, then you know that I am scared of everything new. But I psyched myself up and did it and actually love it (I blame all the blows to the head from the tricep extension machine). I’m an Amazon who puts muscle on fast. In old-timey days, I would have been prized on the farm (my parents could have got 6 cows, a spinning wheel AND a goat in exchange for me) and if I were born on the East Coast or was smart enough to go to an Ivy League school, I’d have been perfect for a rowing team. I guess strength training should have been an obvious fit, but sometimes it takes me and obvious a while to hook up.
In the process of venturing into a new area, there’s a whole other world of odd. Like the man who does one rep on every single machine or the lady who wore a full prairie skirt, poncho, Olivia Newton-John “Let’s Get Physical” headband, and metallic silver high tops on the thigh abductor. By the way, how absolutely awesome a name is “thigh abductor”? It’s like it’s going to steal your flabby thighs and leave nice toned ones in their place, like a super fit Santa from Heaven.
Anyway, I’ve noticed that this strange phenomenon of people sitting on the machines. I don’t mean resting between sets, I mean just sitting there like it’s a loveseat at Costco. If it were only one person I’d think they needed a longer rest, but over the last few days I’ve seen about 6 people, who, unless we are working out at exactly the same pace, are just sitting at the machines, not using them at all. What are they doing? I can only check Facebook and fake text so many times and after about 8 seconds I’m out of things to do between sets. Nothing that calls itself a “seat” at the gym is comfortable (they all seem to be designed to go up your crack and/or correct spinal alignment), so I can’t imagine sitting there when I don’t have to. There is no view of the TVs or even really anything except other machines.
We can see the free weight area a little, but if there is any spot I try to avoid even looking at, it’s the free weight area or as I call it, “The Yard.” There are a few guys who I am pretty sure honed their physiques at the finest correctional institutions and, based on the faces and noises they make, should add more fiber and water to their diets. On the rare chance I see a woman over there I think she is either a super tough chick like in a Quentin Tarantino movie and could kick all our asses five ways till Sunday or needs to be rescued and I should secure a safe house. So, barring anymore strength training machine blows to the head or daring rescue attempts, I’ll be staying out of The Yard.