Ah yes, the gym. The gym is quickly usurping the coveted position of social watering hole. Most of my friends go to the gym, some even actually work out, and it’s pretty evident from the rising sales of jockey vests and whey proteins that gyms are here to stay. Unfortunately, the amount of weight you can lift is directly proportional to amount your IQ reduces so most, if not all, bicep inflated fools out there are exactly that – fools. And I’m not making this stuff up, it’s well documented.
I have to admit, I’m not the fittest guy around. I can run a fair bit and maybe manage to lift heavy luggage but the gym and I don’t have a very healthy relationship. Not to say that I wouldn’t like to flaunt a set of six pack abs or thighs the size of a small European country, I just feel that the investment of effort and the expenditure of energy and money are too easily wiped out by a butter chicken and butter naan meal. I did work out at one point of time, back when I was in Australia, but I quickly realized that it was more fun to sit around and watch people than actually exercise myself. I’ve made acute observations of standard gym behaviour, starting with which gym to use and ending at the drive home. Therefore and without much ado, I present to you some musings and some advice on how to enroll, behave and workout when you decide to ride the growing wave that is gyming.
1. Signing up – If I’m correct, there are 5 gyms within walking distance of my house. This could mean that I live in a gym junkie’s paradise, where testosterone flows like the Mississippi or it means that there are so many gyms out there that choosing one is a workout in itself. The best way to choose the gym for you is to first identify what exactly you are going to do there. If you’re going to stand around and gawk at pretty women in tight clothes, then join an expensive gym because everyone knows – beauty is directly proportional to the size of daddy’s bank account (once again, this is well documented). If you’re going to actually workout then there are some amazing features that gyms offer that you should look out for. Open 24 hours is surely the deal sealer. You probably do not intend to workout after a heavy night of drinking or an exhausting late night meeting but just knowing that your gym is open between 11 pm and 6 am will surely be comforting. You might also want to consider a gym that boasts 100 treadmills, each with its own TV screen because those 15-20 minutes you spend jogging are definitely worth the extra Rs. 10,000 you throw in for membership. There’s also the issue of proximity. You need to find the gym that is at the optimal distance to flaunt your newly pumped gluteus maximus for the perfect amount of time. A 2 minute walk is too close, because then the only people staring at your butt will be the postman and the dude that walks your neighbours dog. A 20 minute drive away is too far because you probably won’t get home in time to flood your veins with all the protein milkshakes and hernia pills you need to take. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that the larger the amount you spend for signing up the better because only then will you feel guilty enough to go to the gym everyday.
2. The gym clothes – Now that you’ve got yourself a membership, you need to equip yourself with all the necessary apparel and accessories associated with the gym. You don’t want to walk into the gym in a pair of tracks and an old t-shirt because everything with eyes in there is going to judge you. If you are fat and hairy you need to get yourself a tight fitting vest that accentuates your back hair and spare tires, otherwise you will not look like you’re serious about losing weight. If you’re overly skinny and of unassuming stature you need a headband and/or wristbands for the same effect. Average sized men need to spend at least 10,000 bucks on Nike or Adidas shoes and another ten grand on Puma trainers, a set of gloves you will never use, a chic drink bottle with a nozzle that makes drinking water an exhausting task and a supporter to protect the marbles. It’s much easier for women – if you’re attractive then get yourself some tight clothes and if you’re unattractive then get yourself some tight clothes. All gym goers must also have the mandatory upper arm iPod strap without which entry into any gymnasium is prohibited.
3. The Scope – So now you’re in the gym, looking good and ready for your workout. First you need to loosen up a little, do some stretching exercises. Men must assume the most socially awkward position to stretch; women must assume the most sexually arousing one. Stretching exercises are not meant to warm up the muscles or loosen up the joints. The sole purpose of stretches is so that you can pretend to be busy while you scope around the floor for hotties, notties and potties. You can observe man-mountains lifting your bodyweight plus some more on the bench press and think to yourself – “soon I’ll be able to do that” (‘that’ refers to ‘lifting heavy weights’ if you’re a guy, and ‘the guy himself’ if you’re a girl) or you can sneak a peek at what kind of weights people your own size are lifting so you get an idea of where you fit in. I spent the entire first month scoping out the toilet so you might want to get that out of the way as well.
4. The workout – In the four odd months that I frequented the gym, I learned a very valuable lesson. Your muscle growth does not depend on the exercises you do or the amount of weight you lift. Your muscle development actually depends on three other criteria – your looks, your sounds and your patches. In order to expedite your bulking, you need to stand in front of the mirror and make the most vague, distorted and downright ugly expressions. Whether it’s your ‘constipated look’, your ‘I-might-be-mentally-challenged look’ or your ‘I’m-going-to-rip-your-arm-off-and-slap-you-with-your-own-hand look’ you need to convince everybody else in the gym that you are going to turn your reflection into four kinds of fucked up. Try turning red in the face for added effect. You also need to supplement your freakishly Neanderthalesque look with the appropriate sounds. Most people have the usual heavy breathing with the occasional yelp, generally heard when you unexpectedly stub your toe, stuff that’s now the norm, but there are a few eccentric ones as well. You can try the surprising-squeaker – a high pitched screech that will drive all dogs within a 50 metres radius into a frenzy. There’s the “my-dog-died” over-exaggerated groaning that you would hear only in Rocky movies and you might come across the “I-shat-my-pants” abrupt scream because, well, you shat your pants. Along with your expression and sounds you also need patches. Sweat patches that is, the bigger your patches, the bigger your muscles. I’m a naturally sweaty guy so a 2 minute run on the treadmill and I’d look I’ve just jumped out of the shower but you might now be that blessed. Try sitting in a hot room before you get to the gym or just slyly pouring water all over yourself.
5. The Break – Of course you have to take a break between sets of exercises and this is the time that you are most vulnerable. If you’ve just finished a set you can’t just wait around doing nothing, you still have to look busy. In my gyming days, I used to pretend to read the exercise posters which were conveniently located next to the window so I could get some fresh air. But you might not be so lucky. You can try pretending to fill up your drink bottle, pretending to have issues with your shoes or some other obscure piece of clothing, pretending to go to the loo or just pretending to look for your gym buddy who’s suddenly gone missing. The key is pretending….and looking busy. Of course if you actually do have a gym buddy then you can just make idle chit chat like “how bout that hottie in the red pants” or “Dude, your face looks like yoda when you’re working out”.
6. The Cooldown – So now you’ve finished your workout. You look like a bulimic he-man and you need to cool down so your muscles don’t go and do their own thing. What this essentially means is that you have to do the same exercises you did but with far lower weights for a far shorter period of time. This is both good and bad. The good part is, if you do it right, you can make it look like you’re bloody strong but if you do it wrong, Grandpa on the gym cycle will be telling everyone about how his grandson, aged 13, can lift more than you. Whatever exercise you’re doing you need to make it look like a breeze without anyone knowing that you’re actually exercising with the weight equivalent of a Chihuahua. Try having a causal conversation with someone hot so that all eyes are on the hottie and not on your weights. Try cooling down using weight machines so that the weights are hard to make out and if there’s someone waiting for you to finish then make sure to increase the set weight by a minimum of 20 kilos when you get up. You can also risk no cooldown at all to protect your reputation but there is the possibility that your muscles go into a spasm and you start kicking yourself in the face in the middle of the night.
7. The Exit – The return home is a vital part of your gyming experience. To the layperson the gym is like a factory line which assembles hot people so whether you see them or not, there are always a few eyes fixed at the gym exit waiting to get a glimpse of some eye candy. When leaving never make the mistake of looking like someone’s driven a road roller repeatedly over your body. It makes you look like a tit. If I wanted to seem someone walk like they’ve been riding a saddle-less horse for 4 days straight I’ll watch an old western. What you need to do is march out, chest inflated, nose in the clouds, as if you are the offspring of Superman and Jennifer Love Hewitt. You need to have an air of “I’m the shit coz I just lifted a baby elephant in there” about yourself. Then there’s the rest of the journey home. If you’re walking then you must continue to walk the way you exited the gym, all the way home, at a steady pace so that pedestrians and drivers have just enough time to notice your bulky shoulder muscles before they get distracted by your naturally formed v-neck sweat patch on your chest. If you’re driving then obviously you must have the windows down. One arm out the window, cruising along sipping on a Gatorade, and you must keep your headband or wristband on. Otherwise no body will know you’ve been to the gym.
Disclaimer: These guidelines have been framed based on my personal experiences in order to ensure that you can have a safe and comfortable gym experience. The gym has the inexplicable ability of turning well-mannered gentlemen and elegant ladies into right ol’ dickheads so it is good to have a few helpers in dealing with them. Following any or all of the above points could result in a severe bashing in of your face, head, groin area or any other body part for that matter. Read and execute at your own risk.