Tales from the Gym: Part 1

9 pm on a Thursday night and I’m heading down to the gym, ready to get my pump on, ready to work this sexy bod right out. Keys in one hand, book in the other, I’m…well, I’m going to walk briskly on the treadmill for 40 minutes while reading Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann. So maybe I’m not your traditional gym rat, but I certainly get my use out of the place. And while there, I get the chance to observe a fair few of my apartment complex’s denizens in their native habitat.

I try to time my gym visits to when there aren’t likely to be a lot of immense sweaty beefcakes hurling heavy objects about. Based on some rough estimates I’ve put together, there are approximately 8,623 hulking manbeasts housed in Aspen Hills. It’s like living in a football locker room, minus the team spirit and jockstraps. There must be steroids in the water, or maybe it was a line of the lease that I skimmed over: “Must be able to dead-lift a city bus or at least look like you can.”

These proto-Hulks bulge and flex and grunt (and grunt (and grunt)) over on the weights side of the gym, but based on sheer bulk they seem to fill the entire space. Over the course of my 40 minute walk, they each lift approximately four weights, spending the majority of their gym visit staring into the middle distance while rap-metal roars from their iPods. I occasionally glance over at them and they always, always look right back into my eyes. It’s uncanny.

Now, I don’t try to avoid these guys because they disturb my “work out,” per se – I guess I simply don’t enjoy the judgement that roils off them like hot steam. I understand that walking and reading is a little weird, but hey, I like to think it proves to the ladies how coordinated and literate I am. To these guys, though, it just seems to prove that I am the king dweeb and probably have an inverted penis. When we pass in the hall they edge around me carefully as if literacy is catching. With the heavy stench of testosterone so prominent in the gym, the agony of feeling like a social pariah is even more pronounced than usual. So, I tend to get my little walks in at around 11pm, when all the man-monsters have passed out drunk while watching Dancing with the Stars.

Of course, this means I have to contend with the late night gym crowd, but that’s a strange story for another time.

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