Lifting weights in a gym is an odd activity if you think about it for too long. So try not to think about it if you want to keep exercising in the gym. Between the outfits, the music, the posturing, the trainers, and the people who are all trying to get their I-got-to-be-seen on, the modern day gym is the nexus of the absurd. They’re still awesome, but outside of the public library, I can’t think of another place where so many weird things are all happening at once.
I submit for your examination two tales from the gyms where I am either currently pursuing my strength training, or have done so in the past.
1. That’s not how you use a hamstring curl machine
One of my pet peeves is people who give unsolicited weight training advice when I am in the gym. I’m looking at you, personal trainers. From “no dude, you’ve got to hold a barbell like this” and “Bro! You are not allowed to press overhead in here!” and “You should seriously go into the pro shop and get yourself some sweet muscle-building supps. Time to get HYOOOOGE! Bro.”
But sometimes, bro and broettes, there is an abuse so egregious that someone really does need to step in before someone dies. In this case that someone was me. An elderly Asian man was lying down on the hamstring curl machine when I started paying attention. He was lying on his back. Here is how those machines work:
Sorry, the only video I could find featured an attractive female:(
The man who was lying on the machine now put his neck under the leg attachment–his Adam’s apple was on the pads where your calves go. He was about to start doing neck curls.
I am proud to say I interrupted him and put a stop to it. I have no idea if he understood me–he may even have died on the machine the next day–but I felt like I had done my part.
2. Tee-hee! It’s too hot in the aerobics room! Tee-hee!
A lot of “real men” go to the gym to prove their realness. Well, at the Gold’s Gym in West Valley City, “real men” do biceps curls. In fact, that’s all they do while the rest of the building might as well have eerie ghost-town wind for its soundtrack.
And yet, I wonder if the fact that the glass-walled aerobics room is right next to the free weights might have something to do with the preponderance of chest-thumping apery that goes on in that packed-to-the-gills 20×20 space.
You mean I can do curls and watch a bunch of sweaty ladies do leg raises and hip bridges? Dude-bro!
About a year ago I was pulling heavy deadlifts near the curling academy. I will not lie: I did occasionally glance into the aerobics room, mainly because there were only two women in there prancing around for the teacher. They were both from a band of lady-lifters Janette calls “The Hankie hos.” This is because they never wear shirts–they wear these weird oversize backless bandannas. Also, whenever Janette lifts, they materialize behind her. This enrages her and she’s always threatening to knit them appropriate triceps-kickback shirts, but has not delivered yet.
Anyways, I was pulling deadlifts, shifting my gaze from Curl World to the aerobics class. There had to have been at least 15 guys all doing curls, when the glass door opened and the leader of the Bandanna pack came out.
“Tee-hee! It’s too hot in there. Hope you boys don’t mind if I do the routine out here with you. I know it be heart,” she said in what I believe was meant to be a conspiratorial whisper.
It was true, she did know the routine. In fact, she parked herself right in the middle of all of the men doing curls and started dancing. The routine had a lot of hip gyrations and pelvic sass. And Tee-hee! She just couldn’t possibly have done it indoors. Oh, she also tucked a diminutive iPod into her cleavage. Very subtle.
It was like going to the zoo and watching the male baboons when the female with the reddest rump walks in. All of the guys increased their groaning and sweating by ten orders of magnitude. Brows were furrowed. Teeth were gritted. Hips were swung. Curls were sped up and slowed down, depending on exactly how hardcore everyone was feeling. Zero muscle was built.
Mistakes were made.
Meanwhile, I was still doing deadlifts in the corner with four plates on each side. Madame Hankie didn’t notice me. I watched the poor aerobics instructor training the one remaining student while on the other side of the wall, the chest-pounding reached a feverish pace.
I can’t prove it, but I’m fairly certain that she was bitterly ruing her career choice. I should have gone and offered her a hankie.
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