i am one of those poor unfortunates who must go to the gym five times a week or risk dropping dead. what can i say, i like m’food.
i don’t take a lot of pleasure in it, other than the reassurance that i have staved off death with the power of my bike-thighs.
but one of the rare joys of a gym rat’s life is watching the various breeds of human that feel the wet, the wet of sweat.
i belong to that group who are always on the knife’s edge between invisibility and humiliation.
you will rarely find us in the free weights section, for that is where the mirrors are. mostly you will find us in overlarge t-shirts, daggy trakky-daks, earphones in, head down, bum up. we’re just trying to get it done with the minimum of attention from the personal trainers, and fellow perspirers. we are quiet and we are very aware of the distance between ourselves and the lycra-clad perfection bouncing happily on the treadmill next to us.
i fight this rampant embarrassment with little fuck-yous of my own. one day i’ll wear my ‘be nice to fat people’ t-shirt. the next day i’ll wear one that says ‘too big to fail’. mostly i raise my middle finger by defying expectations and pounding away on that goddamn bike for 45 minutes, or until my arse goes numb, whichever comes last.
then there are the tryhards. at my gym, there’s a couple who always wear matching workout gear — pristine white, skintight singlets, black shorts and those pretentious useless half-finger gloves that apparently are utterly essential for the sculpting of muscles.
this couple lift weights so heavy they are have to change the method of lifting, just to get them in the air — thereby rendering the purpose of that particular machine completely useless, of course.
the other night, it was just me and Mr and Mrs Twazzock on the machines — there were some others in there, but they were on the free weights and treadmills. The Twazzocks were grunting and moaning at one end of a line of empty machines, and i sat down on the compound row set-up to do some repetitions.
i was adjusting the volume on my iPod when Mr Twazzock taps me on the shoulder.
‘do you mind if i jump in,’ he says.
i look around at all the empty machines and decide that clearly the steroids have proven too much for this man’s cerebrum, and i step away carefully.
then there are the Socialisers. these are the women of a ‘certain age’ who turn up in their best lycra, fully made-up, hair perfect and never actually raise a sweat, ever. in fact, the only part of their bodies they exercise at the gym are their flapping gums. yap, yap, yap.
there’s a bloke i call Golden Sweat. he’s the one who — despite the signs all around the gym imploring us to wipe down the machines after we’ve used them — doesn’t even bring a towel. instead he leaves his nectar smeared on everything he touches.
i knew a bloke who went to the gym every day. and every day he wore a flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off, a pair of denim shorts that could only be described as Daisy Dukes, and steel-capped workboots. he also thought his sweat should be licked off the gear by the nearest chickie-babe.
when i win Lotto, i’m going to open a gym. the membership will be rather exclusive. nobody under 90kgs allowed. no matching clothes. no mirrors. electronic scales that actually can handle real people rather than supermodels. clean, laundered towels available at the door as you walk in, free of charge. disinfectant at every station.
i shall call it Cupcakes. and it will be free for people who need it and absolutely not free to twazzocks.