We are going to profile the myriad characters that inhabit one of the last vestiges of publicly sanctioned indecency, the local gym.
There are different types of gyms, and here in NYC we have all the bases covered. We have public gyms run by the city which offer bottom-of-the-barrel amenities (including aging, rusting equipment that NEVER gets updated, just thrown out when it doesn't work anymore and never replaced) for the financially challenged and borderline mentally unhinged. We have chain-store gyms like Planet Fitness that cater to the overweight and slovenly in low-income neighborhoods. We have boutique places like Equinox that offer upper-tier privileges at upper-tier price scales, and Crunch Fitness that offers all types of semi-pro workouts for perpetually frustrated weekend warriors who can't let go of their high school days as premier jocks before they went off to college and found it easier to compete at Beer Pong and Butt Chugging than athletics once the competition ramped up. This scenario always reminds me of what a friend once told me about athletes who get hammered once they branch out to compete outside their community-"If you're a local hotshot and can't cut the mustard on a bigger stage, don't leave town!!! You WILL be exposed!!!" Truer words were never spoken.
But who are these denizens of the workout arenas? Are they an amorphous mass of swollen-headed douchebags who simply live to compete against anything and anyone past the point of relevance to the outside world? Are they a bunch of over-privileged yuppies joylessly stomping mile after mile like Clydesdales on treadmills to simulated courses of marathons they'll never run in real life? Are they a bunch of Chef Boyardi beef pillow-eating slobs whose only incentive to join a gym is the specter of grim death due to a stroke or heart disease, the #1 killer in America? Who are these motherfuckers? We'll break it down for you here on "Busting Chops".
This goofy prick is the prototype of the Equinox/Crunch Fitness crowd. He's the one who purchases the complete Elite Gold Package, which of course doesn't include personal training sessions-those are separate. He has his personal trainer on speed-dial just in case there's an emergency, like GNC running out of protein mix. He is the guy constantly staring at his heart rate monitor so as not to go over his lactate threshold and brings a GPS for his rides on the stationary bike so he doesn't get lost. He is the dickwad who does two spin classes in a row so he can get a leg up on the competition, which includes but is not exclusive to other assholes such as himself.
He is the guy who takes steroids just to do laps on his $15,000 bike around Central and Prospect Parks. He trains hard, supplements like crazy and chides people who clearly don't give a flying fuck about proper nutrition and periodization. He shops at Whole Foods and Fairway, either has a fake tan or is extremely pale, and must always be in cock diesel mode, meaning he is always posing as if he were doing a photo shoot for Men's Fitness magazine. His shirts are always too fucking tight, and he takes himself so seriously that for him going to the gym is the equivalent of curing cancer, substituting energy bars and Fitness Water for chemotherapy. This graceless goon is a real hoot at parties, which is ironic seeing as he never goes to any because on Saturday and Sunday mornings he's at the gym before they open, racing to be first on the elliptical machine. He is also the asshole you see in 23 degree weather walking to the gym in a sweatshirt and shorts. Don't understand why it's a problem to put sweatpants on so as not to freeze to death-wait a minute, then people may not know this guy's on his way to the gym, and what could be more important than that?
The Over-The-Hill Gang. These are the senior citizens who inhabit the public city gyms. They are the ones who are in their late 40's-early 50's but look older because their bodies, minds, and spirits have been ravaged by the ghetto life-a high-pressure, high-stakes game of Loser-Takes-All that is an offense to anything civil that exists in this wonderful country of ours. The conditions are all the same-hypertension,
cholesterol and triglyceride levels so high they could resuscitate dormant volcanoes, diabetes, heart problems, and so on. You get the picture. Now that the large majority of their friends are either dead, in jail or in nursing homes being fed baby food through a straw up the ass and having to endure the disgrace of wearing adult diapers, suddenly physical fitness becomes a priority. It's too late for them, of course, because the damage has already been done.
You can't undo years of drug addiction, alcoholism, and family dysfunction by taking an aerobics class when you can barely walk. But they think at this late stage, when all is already lost, they can manage to stave off the inevitable decline by doing a few arm curls and twenty minutes on a raggedy treadmill. The outfits are a dead giveaway. I saw one old school Puerto Rican cat wearing (get this) tight running shorts with sweatpants underneath. This was the style back in the late 70's-early 80's used mostly by paddleball players who graced the courts at Yankee Stadium and Van Courtlandt Park. That was a long time ago. I can't believe this ensemble is legal to wear outside the confines of one's own home. I can say with all assurance that anyone who rocks this particular outfit still has plastic slip covers on their sofas.
These are guys who've been in and out of prison most of their lives, and wear their incarceration time with the type of pride most associate with graduating from college. In fact, hang around long enough and from their conversations you'll be able to ascertain that jail was the best thing that ever happened to these losers, but I wouldn't call them that to their faces. They do reps with weights normal people max out on. They have arms bigger than most people's legs, and are so ripped it seems impossible to be so fucking cock diesel without steroids. But diesel they are. And it's obvious they don't do steroids because they can't afford them. In prison, motherfuckers spend their money on drugs or peanut butter for the obligatory "tossed salad" (don't ask-you don't want to know). On the outside, just look at what they wear. When your workout gear is also the clothing you use for everyday life, budgetary constraints have a tendency of overriding pretensions to sartorial splendor.
The tell-tale sign of such a cat is best described by the term "penitentiary torso". Normal guys who work out are either big or ripped, usually not both. Or they just stay bloated. The guys I'm talking about are both big AND ripped. In the joint, they have bench press, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and all the time in the world. Despite all the machines in the gym, they revert to doing nothing but pull-ups, set after set after set. Why? Because it reminds them of the good old days in the big house, where they spent the best days of their lives.
And they have no legs, because no one does squats in prison, at least not the type that get your legs big, in case you're wondering (and I hope you weren't). Their conversations usually start off like this-"When I was locked up..." After that intro, rest assured you will be regaled with tales from the joint you never want to hear again.
This guy is just too much, and every gym has 'em. They come in various forms, but the behavior is similar enough to have its' own category. He is the one who does arms and chest every single workout, and in between sets parades around the gym with other like-minded pricks, looking at themselves in the mirror and looking around to see who's looking at them. They hold their arms at their sides as if they were unbearably heavy slabs of meat protruding from their necks, hoping to impress and/or intimidate the other members. They prance about like peacocks with their chests puffed out, because clearly as evolution has taught us, women find nothing more attractive and alluring than the bloated, protruding male chest titties of a "Wrong Said Fred" video reject, who is just too sexy for this blog-
The Undercover Homosexual Thug-
There are some serious homo-erotic tendencies on display with these particular cats. Women who go to the gym don't acknowledge meatheads and don't give a fuck about them, so who are these dickheads preening for? Each other. They do this not only in the gyms, but outside in public parks wherever there is an area designated for calisthenics, pull-ups and whatever else have you. Just as some of they got a taste of working out while in prison, they also picked up homosexual proclivities they know are not acceptable in the hyper-macho world of the 'hood. You see this even amongst the most hard-core dudes who one would think would never engage in such acts. But like I stated above, some of these guys received a real education in the slammer (like a taste for getting slammed), and apparently liked what they learned. I have no problem with homosexuals, but keep in mind where these guys learned to refine their taste for sexual partners of the same gender-in jail, where rape is used not only as a weapon of intimidation and violence, but as a vehicle to express pent-up anger, hostility and rage. Not the type of dudes you want to get friendly with. Give them a wide berth and you'll get through your workout in relative tranquility. And whatever you do, once you spot one of these cats, DO NOT make eye contact, even for a split second. To them, that's a come-on and you'll be in trouble.
The type of behavior you see at your local gym beggars belief. Most of the time you're good if you mind your own fucking business, but it's impossible not to be exposed to the carnival of lunacy due to the enforced close proximity of these retards. Here are a few examples-
1) A guy who walks around with a huge blue tub of protein powder because it doesn't fit in his locker. He then proceeds to tell no one in particular, and in a loud voice, that he has to take his protein, and then spills half the powder all over the locker room bench without cleaning it up. Don't ask me why he can't mix the concoction at home and bring it in the plastic cup he drinks it in.
2) At one local gym, there are two machines that, for whatever reason, are positioned uncomfortably close together in a corner. So if there are two people using them simultaneously...well, there shouldn't be. As soon as I hit the calf machine, there appears some bozo with the same black t-shirt and painfully short white-and-pink candy striped Richard Simmons shorts to zoom over to use the other machine. So as I'm working out to the incessantly inane beat of Rihanna's "Diamonds" blaring overhead, I have this numbskull literally pushing his stupid face right into mine instead of having the decency of waiting until I finish. What's worse, he never speaks, just grunts and yelps like a goat. His cacophony erupts not during his workout, but in between sets, as he's walking around. I attended this gym for exactly one month before going elsewhere, letting the other 6 months expire.
Never go to a public gym with a pool. If you have to, avoid the locker room at all costs. The nightmare scenarios that will envelop you are an outrage that will leave you scarred for life, and no amount of Primal Scream Therapy will be able to undo the damage. You'll need a frontal lobotomy just to be able to cope.
Fuck if someone who behaves like this should not be in prison alongside Jerry Sandusky. If you know your body is totally and irreparably disfigured-overblown stomach, grotesque liver spots, oblong, bison-sized asscheeks hideously out of proportion to the rest of your body-why walk around with your towel open, either from the front or the back? Because people like this are perverted, sick fuckos who need to be strapped in straitjackets and tossed off a bridge. I was watching a National Geographic documentary on hippos in Africa, and one evening the film crew found the stinking, bloated carcass of a poor hippo who died of natural causes. It was turned on it's side, it's limbs shot straight into the air from rigor mortis. The poor thing wore the most wretched death masque you could imagine. This is what some of these goons look like in the locker room of this particular gym, and why I stopped attending after one month, even though I had six more to go on my prepaid membership.
Moral of the story? There isn't any. It's just part of the unbearable madness of everyday life.