I have a love/hate relationship with the gym. It’s not for the obvious reasons though. Most people don’t like the actual work that is done at the gym but they love the results. I love working out, I just hate that it has to be with other people. The gym I go to is pretty crowded right now with all the people who decided that they were going to get in shape in 2018. They are the same people who made this vow at 12:01 on the first day of 2017. And just like last year, they will be gone by the end of February. But for now, they are mucking up the works. I have encountered more broken machines at the gym in the last three weeks than I did in the prior nine months. I was a little perplexed as to how this could happen so quickly with the ellipticals until I watched a teenage girl hop on the machine next to me and pump away as fast as she could for about two minutes until the machine started clicking and her knees started to buckle. I looked at her at one point just to make sure she wasn’t having a seizure. It turns out she couldn’t figure out how to turn on the machine to track her progress. She jumped off in a huff and walked away without wiping down her machine. Apparently she didn’t see the twelve signs posted all over the gym asking her to clean up after herself.
My husband returned from his workout last week and shared with me that a guy was humming the Ghostbusters theme really loudly and singing along to the parts he knew. I wish I had been there to hear that, but realized it was best I wasn’t there since I have a hard time not expressing my amusement and may have fallen off a machine laughing. Unfortunately a few nights later we both witnessed a guy who was both grunting and huffing simultaneously as he walked along on his treadmill at a whopping two miles per hour. A woman then started huffing away right behind us. At one point it sounded as if a porno was playing in surround sound. I couldn’t keep it together and had to head to the sauna.
The dry sauna is usually one of my favorite things to partake in at the gym. However, when the gym is crowded like it has been, the sauna gets a lot of extra traffic. The only good thing about this is that the conversations I get to overhear usually involve more bros and more idiocy. Unfortunately the added idiocy also comes with added pounds and added sweat. I try to sit in my corner and soak in all of the bizarre bro talk – mostly about their piles of money and how much they drank last night – without getting soaked by the sweat dripping off of them as they pace back and forth and stretch on the floor. There is also usually the one guy who has to prove he is extra tough by doing push ups in the middle of the cedar box full of people. I can’t even count the number of times I have walked out to the sauna after spending ten minutes fighting with my bathing suit in the locker room only to find wall to wall bros and no free seating. That is when I turn right back around and leave.
Inevitably when I head back into the locker room there is only one other woman in the area, but she feels the need to take up every available inch of counter and bench space within 100 feet of her. Her 15″ x 15″ bag is like a clown car with 80 pounds of make up, hair product and clothing spilling out all over every available surface. In the past week I have watched a woman spread three towels over the benches in between the lockers and dump her beauty products all over the place claiming her space; a 6 year old lying down playing with her mom’s phone on one bench as said mom dropped wet towels and bathing suits dangerously close to my electronic devices sitting at the corner of the other bench while she spread her belongings all over the room; and two elderly women sitting topless, one on each of the two benches in the area while speaking Chinese very animatedly. The last scene had me throwing my coat on over my bikini and fleeing before getting knocked out by a boob as the women’s arms flailed while they chatted. It was then that I remembered why I rarely used the locker room.
Someone needs to write a pamphlet about gym etiquette, although I don’t know who would read it. People seem to be unable to read the various signs around the gym asking that they wipe down their machines after use, to not use cameras in the locker rooms and most disturbingly necessary to not spit in the drinking fountain. If the seven word signs are too difficult, a pamphlet on etiquette would be like reading War and Peace for the bros.
One of the peculiar things that happens to my husband that never happens to me is that as he is getting on a machine a person walks over to tell him they are using that machine. They are sitting on a machine close to the one that he is attempting to sit down on or doing squats five feet away. They say things like “I am in the middle of a rep” or “I am getting back on that machine.” This has never happened to me. Although, to be fair I don’t make eye contact with people at the gym very often and my headphones are blaring Hatebreed so people could be yelling all kinds of things at me and I would have no idea. My husband is a nice guy and it’s written all over his face which is why people walk all over him if he lets them. Me, not so much. My expression usually says “get out of my way” even when I am not in a hurry. I mentioned to him several responses he could give to people who try to hold machines they are not using like it is their own personal gym. My responses included giving them a definition of “using” or pointing out that they were not in fact currently on the machine which means it is free to use by anyone. Since he is opposed to getting punched and/or harassed he declined my advice.
I think the entertainment I received last night made all of the overcrowding and close calls with accidental motorboating in the locker room worth it. I was in attendance at a one woman show. I was diligently pushing into my sixth mile on the elliptical when I heard a woman start singing in what can only be described as a pseudo operatic voice. I looked up at the television to see Beyonce jiggling away but the singing wasn’t matching up to the mouth movements on the screen. My familiarity with Beyonce is limited, as I only know a few songs (one of which was done better by Jonah Matranga), so I didn’t know what song was playing or who I was hearing.
I looked around and quickly found the source of the noise. A very small middle aged woman was on an elliptical machine a row behind me singing away with her eyes closed. I could hear the song she was listening to so she obviously was playing her music through her phone speaker for the whole gym to hear. This did not surprise me in the least, as I have heard people doing this at least weekly. The thing that surprised me was that she was wearing headphones. Either she did not have them properly plugged in or she had both the headphones and speaker enabled simultaneously. Whatever the issue was, this crazy lady was singing at the top of her lungs completely off key as she shared her “music” with half the gym. As I was looking back at her I noticed that several other people were laughing along with me. The best part about this is our little entertainer had no idea she had an audience giving her their full attention since she had her eyes closed. She was literally singing like nobody could hear. I turned around and went back to my workout but at one point the singing stopped abruptly. She must have opened her eyes or been otherwise tipped off to the fact that people were watching her.
I was amused by this woman because it is something I could relate to. Sometimes I get wrapped up in what I am listening to so much that I find myself running on the elliptical, lifting double the weight I am used to at double the pace or drumming on my legs. There are usually pretty awful videos on the televisions except on saturdays when every now and then a really good video airs. A few years ago I almost fell off my machine when Sleigh Bells came on right in front of where I was working out. I had to pick up my phone and text my husband and friends to tell them of this fabulous news. They were not all that excited and it ended up being a fluke because I never saw the video again. Someone probably saw me almost take a header and flagged it as a health risk to gym members! So to the singing little lady from the other night, keep it up. Joy is contagious, even when it is completely out of key.