I’m not going to call out an entire group of people and complain about them all being the same way. That would be stereotyping, profiling. Like saying all teenagers are assholes. Instead, I will make an observation about a certain mentality I’ve noticed about some people at my gym. Some people at the gym suck. I exercise at an everyday people gym. It’s family-friendly. No one would confuse my gym for a place you might find in South Beach. A few friends and I signed on with a personal trainer who is kicking our collective asses by lunging and squatting ourselves into shape, dammit. We love him. We pay extra for this privilege. The only downside is that we don’t have a designated room or spot to train. It’s not usually a problem to commandeer a place in the gym. The ladies doing T.R.X. along one wall are, by design, contained in a certain area and we shout out encouragements to each other once in a while. We all seek the same thing at the gym and respect each other.
There are certain high-traffic times when it’s hard to find someplace to work-out. Sometimes we end up on one side of the basketball court, until the fitness zombies start arriving. The Biters are very slow and creep in around us before we know they’ve infiltrated our part of town. Their exercise class starts in 40 minutes, but still, at 9:20, they start coming. They set up chairs all around us as we try to spread out. We try to exert our dominance over the area, like when you purposely put your forearm on an airplane seat armrest, daring that self-absorbed space invader sitting next to you to nudge your arm out of the way. Not on my watch! Once you notice the obliviousness of the Walkers, you can’t not obsess about them. With each burpee, you fan a little further out of the circle. Jumping jacks propel you outward. The space hogs leisurely raid the weight rack and place their 2 and 3 pound weights at their feet. They re-fill their work-out coffee bottles and watch us sweat with indifference. They read newspapers. They turn off their ultra-loud jitterbug cell phones. Clean their trifocals. They go get more towels in case tapping their foot makes them sweat. They wear thick terry cloth head bands and brand new white sneakers. Maybe elastic sweatpants, maybe high-waisted dockers. Which is not to say that we are bastions of fitness or gym fashion. Truly, we are glad they are there. I applaud anyone who goes to the gym, for whatever reason, at any age and at any fitness level. Still, we gird our loins. We want to scream, “It’s not time for Yakety Yak by The Coasters yet! We have thirty more minutes in this space, bitches!” Instead, we suffer in silence.
Maybe we are a little afraid. We know these same folks will soon make their way to the locker rooms, blow-drying their personal bits that are now four inches below where they started. And they like nudity, these people. I thought most people were modest? They just don’t give a shit. About anyone. Body confidence gone amuck. As if they’re taunting others in the locker room. “You gonna say anything about my granny panties? I was wearing these before you were born!” Thanks. I can never not know that now. They sit on the locker room benches naked. They don’t wear flip-flops in the shower area because no fungus could ever penetrate their insanely thick toenails.
Please tell me we can stop the cycle. We enter this world completely self-absorbed, and apparently are destined to leave this world in the same way. Say it isn’t so?