I have always been honest about why I go to a gym. I go to a gym so I can continue to enjoy food.
I also have always been honest about my favourite gym. It was two gyms ago, the one where they had a little television on every treadmill. I could watch cooking shows and learn new ways to use decadent amounts of butter while I burned calories. Yes, I know that’s sick, but somehow that never stopped me.
The gym I go to now is a budget gym. I like that it doesn’t cost much because then I don’t feel so guilty when I don’t go.
What I don’t like is that the machines are so close together, you nearly touch the person working out next to you. I am often influenced by the person working out next to me. You’ve heard of gym rats? I am a gym chameleon.
If I’m near a young fella who can make the read-out on the elliptical fritz out because he goes so fast, I pick up my pace. A lot.
The downside of being surrounded by people working out aggressively is that I gradually begin thinking that I, too, work out aggressively for hours at a time, so when I get home I grab something to eat. Two miles forward, three miles back.
Unfortunately, this chameleon-like quality also works in the other direction.
A couple of weeks ago I was on an elliptical when two women, obviously friends, got on the machines next to me. They got talking and the more they talked, the more they slowed down, until the machine of the woman next to me said, ‘PAUSED – RESUME WORKOUT – PAUSED.’ The women’s lips were moving fast, but the rest of their bodies were stationary. If they didn’t move soon, I knew I would probably slow way down and join the conversation.
If there is someone about my age next to me, I will try to go faster than they do on their machine. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I’m competitive.
Actually, I am competitive. I won the girls push-up medal in sixth grade at Boone Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, for doing 45 push-ups in under one minute. I include those details in case anyone cares to call the school and verify the victory. I’m sure if you call, the school will say, ‘Huh?’
This week I was at the gym sweating buckets (OK, maybe it was more like droplets) when I saw a first. A man climbed on to an elliptical and wedged newspapers, a book, loose papers and a yellow legal pad between the dashboard of the machine and the handgrips. It wasn’t clear if he was there to work out or conduct conference calls.
At some level, many of us are like a man I know who once said, ‘I want to be fit, but I also want to lie on the couch on the weekend and eat a bag of chips.’