Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sixty-seven percent of Americans are members of a gym. Less than forty-two percent of those Americans actually go to the gym of which they are a member. This makes it easier to believe that by the year 2018 eighty percent of Americans will be obese. (Statistics courtesy of my head)

OK so maybe my numbers aren’t entirely accurate, but they’re close. And even if they aren’t close, the main idea is right. People pay money to go to a gym but they don’t go to it, yet they continue to pay. That is why Americans are, in essence, big fat tubs of goo.

The point of this blog is not actually to harp on larger American citizens. This is about the gym, or in my case the YMCA. Not the state of the facilities or anything, though that may pop up, but the odd and at times entertaining sights that I see. Walk with me, talk with me.

In the main room there are cardio machines are far as, well, to the wall. There are probably fifteen treadmills or more, seven or eight ellipticals, and about eight stationery bikes, upright and recumbent. There are weight machines peppered around the room’s perimeter. Now if you get bored doing your cardio and your mind starts to wander, that means your eyes have probably already been wandering. That’s when you tend to see the stuff you try hard not to laugh at.

Most of the comical sights I see are people on the treadmills. As I rested between sets on the rowing machine, I looked up to see what I thought was a woman falling off the treadmill. At second glance, I realized that this woman had jacked the incline on the treadmill up as high as it would go and was now hanging for dear life from the handrails on either side of the belt as her feet frantically tried to keep her moving. In my memory, I swear this thing was at a forty-five degree angle, though that may be exaggerating a tad. Then my Asics asked me “Why bother getting on one if you can’t even stay upright on one?” I don’t know, Asics. I don’t know.

Another time, it was a sound that caught my attention. I heard the treadmill turned up to a breakneck speed yet there were very few footfalls to be heard. Turning, I saw a man with the speed set to what must have been fifteen miles an hour. He, too, was clutching the handrails, but he was sort of leaping to keep from being thrown off backward. He was holding himself up with his arms and occasionally putting down a foot. Then my Asics said, around my own feet “I hope he knows that’s not really running.”

Then there was the woman who was not dressed in any kind of fitness attire, but who was on the treadmill. She was holding her keys, walking at a 1.2 mph speed, and talking on her cell phone. This is the same woman who, when she dismounted the treadmill, would go to a weight machine, adjust it to the lightest weight, do one set, and move to another machine—all while talking on the phone.

Just as bad is the woman all decked out in workout clothes, but only walking two miles per hour. She, too, was on the phone. I’m inclined to believe they were talking to each other. My Asics asked “Why bother to come here if you’re not going to work out?” I don’t know, Asics. I don’t know.

My first go on the recumbent bike was fun. Up until someone got on the one beside me. He was a pudgy man, bald and very shiny, wearing glasses and singing audibly along with his mp3 player. He was singing the Pussycat Dolls. It was all I could do not to turn and tell him I think it’s great that he’s here and he’s queer, but please do so more quietly.

Most recently, I encountered a gentleman on a stationery bike. He had been on it for perhaps six minutes and had already worked up a considerable sweat. I chose the recumbent bike beside him. As soon as I had set the program, I realized that perhaps now wasn’t the best time for me to do the bike. Why, you ask? I’ll tell you why. The man beside me was emitting such a foul stench of body odor that I had to turn my head to try to breathe without smelling it. I always hoped that if I threw up at the Y it was because I worked out so hard, not because some guy beside me had gone nose-deaf. Luckily he was done before me, but at least he left two pools of sweat on the floor to remember him by. My Asics asked “Shouldn’t someone tell him he stinks?” I don’t know, Asics. I don’t know.