Home > Musings > Paying to get hot and sweaty with strangers

Paying to get hot and sweaty with strangers

imageLast year I decided to join a gym. Previously I had put it off because I was against the idea of paying money to do something I hate. Eventually, though, it occurred to me that munching on M&M’s while sitting on a computer all day at work may not be a healthy lifestyle. A change was needed, and since my boss rejected my idea of letting us work while running on treadmills, I decided to join a gym.

Inside the walls of a gym is a civilization completely unlike any other on Earth, except maybe the ancient Roman Empire or Dov Charney’s house. In the gym, men don’t allow themselves to wear sleeves for the simple fact that our arms look damn good when lifting weights. That’s also why there is a long mirror covering most of the gym floor. I’ll never look better and healthier than when I am summoning all of my might against evil weights that are conspiring with gravity against me, so why not enjoy the mirror view and pretend that I always look that good? Some men take it too far, though, flexing for the mirror after each rep. I even saw a guy blow himself a kiss in the mirror once.

Of course, the mirror has another use: It allows pervs to stare at others more discretely. I would like to say that I’m above such a technique, but that’s not always the case. It seems that spandex is made of a magnetic fabric that is the polar opposite of my eyeballs. If a woman walks by wearing skintight workout gear that clings to every curve of her body, checking her out is as involuntary as turning my head at the sound of a crash, a screeching cat or a Rihanna song. I don’t mean to and then quickly look away to avoid being rude, but a momentary look can’t be helped.

Planet Fitness markets itself as a “judgment-free zone,” but the truth is that there is no such thing. Everyone at the gym is judged. Hey middle-aged man on the elliptical machine, don’t think I didn’t notice you only lasted 10 minutes on there. As for me, whenever I’m done on a machine, I discretely add ten pounds to the weight, just in case. That way, the next person will think I lifted more weight than I did, because my self-esteem is really that low.

Some guys go to the gym to pick up women, but I think that’s a bad idea. First of all, I find that my chances of successfully getting a girl’s number are significantly decreased if I’m sweating and stink. Also, there is too much competition. A lot of the other guys in the gym are in good shape, which means I don’t stand out. I prefer to pick up women at a bowling alley, where I’m the only one who isn’t fat, or at a comic convention, where I’m the only one who has had sex. It doesn’t even matter that I don’t like bowling or comics.

Make no mistake about it, though. Going to the gym is not about being healthy; it’s about looking good naked. There are muscles I didn’t even know existed before they began aching from the gym. If I had never even discovered those muscles before, there’s a good chance I don’t need really them to be stronger.

Speaking of nudity, the gym is one of the few places where it wouldn’t be strange for me to sit around and sweat with a bunch of naked old men. I’m talking about the sauna, of course, and I’m assuming that it’s expected for you to keep a towel on, but I’m not sure. To be honest, I never considered using the sauna at the gym. I live in Florida, for God’s sake. If I want to sit in a small, heated room and sweat off a few pounds, I’ll just not turn on the air conditioner when I get in the car.

At my gym there are TVs that show music videos as a way of getting your blood pumping and into workout mode. Of course, the music is terrible, so I listen to my iPod instead. I like to still watch the videos while running, though. Once I listened to the Black Keys while watching Shakira dance onscreen. I can’t think of a better combination than that. Maybe I should send a memo to Shakira’s record label. All of her videos would be better if they were backed by Black Keys songs.

I have to say that I’m glad I joined a gym. It’s funny to watch the other guys act like peacocks, fluffing out their feathers while they strut around the room. I also get to judge others and gain a delusional sense of my own physique. After all, I think that’s what the gym is all about. It’s a shame that the working out part still sucks.

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