Eat less, move more. That seems to be the way to look good. If you need to be stronger do some push-ups, sit-ups and squats. That sounds like hard work doesn't it! Wouldn't it be easier if we could just outsource this effort?Someone to take away our insecurities and guilt? Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Gym. I have recently concluded that Gym's are much like belly buttons and we don't really need them. Both claim to assist your appearance and both will happily debit your account monthly, regardless if you've used them. Here's a tip- never give your bank details to your navel! The idea of working out at a gym can be confusing and scary. It doesn't need to be. Allow me to explain.
I say 'idea' because that is what it is for many people. They happily pay a monthly fee to a place they never visit, just like that year I bought a season pass to Werribee Zoo. I went once, but never again after I felt too anxious around the Giraffes. I still can't understand how their necks can support that weight without snapping.
Your average Gym is divided into three categories- the Ubers, the Machinists and the Sweatsuits. Most of us are Sweatsuits. Average people donning ridiculous combinations of tight sports fibre garments with old promotional tee shirts, dirty runners and mismatched socks. In this uniform we sweat ourselves into contentment.We have 'exercised'! This process shelves any lingering guilt we may have about our lifestyle and dietary habits, and is our bit to upholding first world mortality rates.
The Ubers are those males who clog the gym floor space, bumping into each other like cattle being herded through a gate. They tend to have gelled their hair just for this outing, and develop close friendships with other Ubers. Often they will coordinate their schedules for example Tuesday session may be back and arms, Wednesday veins and chest and Thursday fingers and neck. You will notice a distinct lack of any focus on lower body, this is because an Uber does not deem leg muscles necessary. Often they will be disproportional small, due to neglected use much like a wheelchair inhabitant.
The Machinists are usually Women, gay or overweight Men. Dress-code for this crowd is pure Lycra This is unfortunately true for the overweight men who resemble a front load washer full of hams, as they plod upon the treadmill. Don't try to get into a conversation with these types about the idiocy of running on a machine at cost in a gym, when the outdoor version is free and superior. They will rebut with well honed speeches about how they "like it better" or "can watch Deal or No Deal on TV whilst doing it". These are the cash-cows of any Gym, always there, hence while they can clearly exploit the 20 min per machine maximum.
But it is not just the inhabitants of a Gym that can be intimidating. The environment and the elements that make it up can be just as strange. There are the mirrors everywhere that allow the boys-who-can-shave to admire a new vein as they try and curl more iron than Albania exports. There are the paper towel and spray disinfectant for members to discreetly wipe away the sweat version of a body outline left behind after a stretch session on the mats. There is enough sweat based DNA in your average gym that scientists could take a swab from a Swiss ball and genetically engineer the ideal physical embodiment of a human. The may want to head elsewhere to perfect personality and intellect, unless knowledge of protein shakes is a desirable trait.
There are those cards for predetermined programs, set out by some over enthusiastic trainer named Damon. Two weeks in and you are just happy to roll a few hand weights over ,while listening to a band featuring Dave Grohl (how many bands he has actually been in?!) fantasizing your own private sports movie montage. Those cards lay used around the edges of gym, discarded like losing betting ticket after the races. It once promised so much, but delivered so little.
Then there are the communal Gym showers.Nothing builds community than seeing the guy from the fruitshop's cucumber and mandarins after a post-spin class shower. You know the showers have been well disinfected, because even though you bring your own body soap from home you still come out smelling like a freshly cleaned hospital. The smell of the Gym itself has a strong whiff of ambition, mixed with a strange balance of confidence and despair and just a touch of perviness. The musk of money wasted. You go to a gym long enough and surely you'll end up smelling this way.