I’ve discovered that I am becoming quite snarky when I go to the gym. I’m not sure what’s causing it. It may be the natural result of my personality mixed with increased levels of testosterone, or maybe it’s just how I act when I’m completely amped up (though you’d think I might have noticed that tendency before and I haven’t). Or it might just be the result of being in close proximity to a lot of strangers. I don’t know for sure what the cause is.
I try to remain oblivious to everyone else while I’m at the gym. My personal belief is that if we could afford it, we would all workout alone in our own private gyms with no one to disturb us. And even though I can only afford membership in a community gym, I try as best I can to act as if it’s my own private gym, as if there’s no one else there, as if I am completely undisturbed by anyone else. It’s a fantasy but it gets me through my workouts! Like so many things in life a community gym membership is, after all, a compromise. So I try to focus on myself and tune everyone else out. And it works for the most part. Except…
There’s this one guy. I see him at the gym a lot. And I don’t mean to be snarky but it seems like every time I’m there, he’s there too. He’s not much to look at, really. I’m not even sure why he bothers. He’s tall, about my height. Middle-aged with dark hair streaked with gray at the temples. At one time, he might have been attractive. I’m not really sure. He’s not my type. But it’s not even his looks that are the most annoying thing. It’s the way he works out.
He prefers the elliptical machines, apparently. And not just any elliptical machines but the fancy Precor machines with the programmable workout interface and moveable handlebars. He seems to insist on using only those machines every time he comes to the gym. Every single time. And it’s just so annoying the way he goes about his workout.
For a man his age and in his condition, he exerts himself way too hard. He wheezes and gasps and puffs like a rusty calliope as he strides away, always way too fast and always for way too long.
And it’s not just the noise and dangerously over-the-top workout routine. He sweats. Like a pig most times. And the vanity? It’s pathetic to see a man at his station in life sucking in his gut every time a woman walks by. As if the attractive twenty-somethings at the gym, in their fashion Lycra workout gear, even notice he exists. Beyond the wheezing and puffing and sweating, that is.
And I know it’s not polite to be so snarky. But I can’t avoid this guy, because I need to continue going to the gym. I guess I’ll just have to make peace with the way I feel about him. I guess I’ll just have to sink into my own private mental workout zone and tune him out completely. But there’s something in me that can’t abide with that for too long. I’ve never liked avoiding a problem as a long-term solution.
Maybe I should take a positive approach. Here’s what I think I’ll do. Next time I’m at the gym, I’ll walk right up to this guy and tell him how I feel. I’ll look him right in the face and say, “Look, Jim. Why don’t you take it down a notch? Okay? You’re freaking people out.”
And then, while I’m standing there looking at my reflection in the mirror, I wonder if it will say anything in reply.