The Cliché of Gym

I work out at a place without frills or salad bars. No spas or marble showers. And least of all, no January workout stars. The people you see today are the same people you see in June and in October. No one needs to make end-of-year bargains with themselves and their respective savior to go in and serve their time. So why does it come to pass that these men (and here, they are mostly men) who seem to have mastered the art of getting their body fat into the gym bear living exhibit to the same clichés that you find at your local Equinox? How dost they come? Let us count the ways.


1.            The Bi-Bench Wonders – The BBWs are tragic specimens who believe that doing the same exercise with the same weight every single day suddenly, after a few decades, will yield tremendous results. Either that or their hippocampi can’t form new memories when drunk on lactic acid and thus long forgotten is the fact that they did bench yesterday and the day before and the one before and…


2.            The Ultimate Fantasy Fighters – Long years ago, TUFFs were on the endangered species list. But now the time comes for them to redeem their place. The popularity of MMA has given a new birth of freedom to anyone with either a pair of feet or fists. And not just around the heavy bag. At any moment between sets, while doing crunches or simply walking around the aisles, TUFFs may break into a menacing combination of strikes, kicks or submission moves against enemies unseen. In a small fraction of cases, the impromptu kata is impressive. The majority, however, bear comic resemblance to the dance of those who walk face-first into a cobweb.


3.            The Denim Warriors – In every gym, at any hour, one runs the risk of encountering this closet hipster peacocking around the free-weights in their too-cool-for-squats jeans. As with the tail of the aforementioned bird, these casual workout celebrities believe that a routine in spite of the denim constraint demonstrates survival of the fitness to a potential mate. Luckily the prospective “mate” is just another dude putting a large gaping calm before the sperm.


4.            The Screamers – They look the same. Act the same. And mostly lift the same. But for every dozen lifters who would glide through a routine unnoticed, a shocking few will suddenly vocalize a repetition with such force that it is a mystic wonder that energy remains to lift anything. A wonder, that is, until one sees the “weight” and blushes on the screamer’s behalf.


5.            The Girlfriend – The Girlfriend is not a member. The Girlfriend does not lift weights. The Girlfriend may not even be a girl. What he or she does is prove that weightlifting knowledge is not a reproductive selection criterion. With gleaming eyes and vacant skulls they watch their oracles expound on the principles of training as a pupil does a Jedi master. Only Yoda lifted a starship out of the damn swamp. Didn’t catch him needing a spot for 95 pounds.



6.            The Marathon Shorts – These leggy prancers are invariably male retirees who, through a lifetime of aerobics, crafted their stems and hindquarters into inhuman firmness. This firmness contrasts sharply with that of the inevitable scrota exhibition and provides a stark reminder that the only running still in practice is to drain the bladder. 5 times a night.


7.            The Spandex Shorts – It must be mentioned that at a time and place when/where bicycles didn’t serve as moving targets, your satirist has been lazy and thus guilty of this crime. But we grow and heal and eventually realize that spandex, like tank tops, comes in all sizes but only two genders: girl and gay. Pulling on another pair of shorts is two steps for man, and a giant sigh of relief for everyone around.


8.            The Coffee Sipsters – Morning, noon or night, there will always be someone walking around the gym sipping coffee from a trendy cup. As with all other distractions that are supposed to disguise one’s lack of actual weightlifting, this one is the one I understand the least. One doesn’t need to go anywhere to increase the heart-rate chemically.


9.            The Commandos – The active ingredient for these specimens, is military camouflage that fit perfectly 2 years and 20 pounds ago. But the only thing The Commandos are veteran of is the surplus store rip-off. Fortunate indeed because with a reserve corps oozing about like a snowman in a Florida winter, we’d be one Middle East invasion shy of our own Decline and Fall. And melt.


10.          The Hardcores – These specimen, although rare at the trendy gym/spas, multiply in geometric proportion to the facility’s grunginess. Self-appointed experts in all things weighted, The Hardcore dress only in Mr. Universe attire and are always fatigued for hauling about such an arsenal of accessories: several pairs of gloves, fasteners, belts, wraps for every joint, and the mysterious gallon of strangely colored liquid. On the rare occasion one might actually catch a Hardcore doing an exercise, it will always make up in strangeness what it lacks in resistance. Presumably that 7.25 pound dumbbell will lock in that final line of definition on the post anterior joint of the index finger.

Keep your resolutions and you too may find a sample that we haven’t covered. If so, please write to me and tell me all about it. As in high school or prison or anywhere else where large groups of intellectually-challenged people are convinced of their supremacy, gyms have cliques and cliques have rules. It is up to us to make fun of them.


Love and Supersets,