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2:16 p.m. - 2010-01-16
Let's Get Physical!

Tomorrow I will pay…for today I went to the gym. I just hope I haven't set myself up for total agony, I'll be embarrassed. Not that I did any showing off today. I set a nice sedate pace for myself, didn't go too heavy on the stacks (though MIL was astonished by what I found to be 'too light', hey, I come from sturdy peasant stock), and I didn't over rep. I tried several machines that worked me from head to toe. Literally to toe, I found this one very nifty machine that works your ankles. Technically it's for your calves, but the movement was quite similar to depressing a gas pedal, only with both feet, and I felt it in my arches and ankles as well as my calves. God help me, I am such a fashionista that my first thought when using that machine was, "Hey cool! I'll be able to wear the boots with the 5" heels way easier now!" Only I would think about upping my stiletto heel height as a benefit from a workout.

So observations from the gym.

Everyone wipes the machines in an almost fetishistic fashion. There's little cleanliness stations dotted everywhere with rolls of horrible brown paper towels and spritz bottles of colored water. (They claim it's disinfectant, but who knows really?) However the thing that made me giggle was that everyone wipes the pads on the machines, the seats, the head pads, etc and NO ONE wipes the grips. I swear! The places where your hands actually touch the machine are completely ignored. It was sooooo dumb. Fine, I don't want to sit in a puddle of some stranger's sweat either, but if we're being good citizens about germs and body fluids don't you think that the place that everyone touches whether they sweat on the pads or not would be the MOST important spot to keep clean?


I also observed a uniquely male phenomena, the imaginary workout. I had seen this before in the muscle head gym with Mick, but never on such a widespread scale by so many, many men. The imaginary workout is simple. Sit on a machine. Drink water. Cap bottle. Sit and stare into space. Think deep thoughts and/or ogle the women. Stare into space some more. Under no circumstances do you ever actually use the machine. Continue to hog a machine you are not using for at least 10 minutes. Take one last drink of water. Stand. Wipe pads. Flex in the mirror while admiring the stellar imaginary results of your imaginary exertions. Move to next machine. Repeat.

Another uniquely male workout routine is the peacock. This is a group activity involving two or more men. Cluster near a seriously bad ass machine. Point to it and exclaim in a low pitched but loud voice about how good you are on that piece of equipment. The other males will chime in with their stats. All will nod and congratulate. Then the one upping begins when the men now start critiquing the other's form. Usually along the lines of, "Well if you really want to get 'er done you have to set the seat at a 55 degree angle! Sure, the way you do it is fine." (smirk smirk) "That angled seat thing is old hat! What you really should be doing is fast reps! That's was gets results." Continue in this way until each man has one upped another. Stop to flex and drink water. Slowly migrate toward another piece of equipment. Continue conversation and boasting. Only fall silent if someone (usually a younger male or a woman) actually gets on and uses the machine. Suddenly become busy adjusting iPod straps and shoe laces. Wait until the person using the equipment leaves. Resume peacock workout.

The women, on the other hand, work. They don't chat. They don't sit on a machine they're not using. They get on, bust a gut, get off, wipe pads, and then move to the next activity. If moved to chat with another female they draw together off the gym floor, mostly near the water fountains.

Now I don't know if this is exclusive to my gym or to the Planet Fitness chain as a whole or it applies at all gyms, but wearing a top and a bottom that in any way, shape or color coordinate with each other is considered seriously bad form. I can dig the whole "I'm too serious about my workouts to be fashionable" vibe. Truly. The gym is the last place anyone should be worrying about matching their sneaker laces to the piping on their tank tops, but the dissonance in the clothing worn by the PF patrons actually hurt my brain. A typical PF outfit was booty shorts and a parka. Mad glen plaid cycling leggings and a polka dot dress shirt with the sleeves ripped off. I swear to God one guy was wearing a kilt and a Grateful Dead t-shirt. With striped tube socks and Reeboks.

Okay? Seriously deranged. My simple plain white t-shirt and dead plain black fleece yoga pants got A LOT of stares. Sneers, even. I didn't let it bother me nor will I be trotting off to the Goodwill to buy a dental smock and some glittery bloomers to work out in, but really, today's performance of '3 Penny Opera' staged by blind chimpanzees with a Village People fetish was ridiculous. I am quite certain I can firm up my flobby bod without proving my sweaty worth to the PF gym rats by dressing like a transvestite hobo.

Send the good thought that I haven't lamed myself up too badly, won't you?

Love, ~LA

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