Gregg Valentino is pictured above. He and I have something in common. No, it’s not the gun show. We both work out a lot which means we spend a lot of time at the gym. One difference is that he took dangerous amounts of steroids, got a hideous infection and his arms exploded, thus his nickname “The Man Whose Arms Exploded.” Otherwise, we’re pretty similar. That has nothing to do with this blog. I just think it’s interesting that his arms exploded.
I spend about 10-12 hours a week at the gym. That’s 500-600 hours a year. As a result, I have reached certain conclusions, developed prejudices and pet peeves and have other observations which I will share with you. This is the type of information which my wife calls “trivial BS that no one wants to read about.” Indeed.
In that spirit and in no particular order, I offer:
WHAT’S THAT SMELL?
Gyms are like nursing homes. Regardless of cleanliness, they don’t smell good. The reason is simple. The gym is full of sweaty people. Sweaty people smell bad. Thus, … you get the point.
I’m not talking about that smell. I’m talking about SMELL. The kind of smell that will cause your lungs to seize up and your eyes to water. I believe it was comedian John Fox who described something as smelling of “ass and cat food.” That’s the smell. If you smell like that, do something about it.
Some people smell like food. I was on the treadmill next to a guy who smelled like an Indian restaurant. Another guy smelled like gasoline. WTH?? Some people are just plain rank. Bad. I don’t have any recommendations, other than just ‘do something about it.’
Here’s something NOT to do. Don’t bathe yourself in perfume or cologne. If you’re really exercising, you’ll smell funky during and after. Crippling your fellow gym rats with overpowering “cover” does not help. Plus, it gets on the equipment. Then, we get to smell like that. Again, don’t do it.
People sweat or at least they should. It’s good for you. It cools your body down. I know a dude who claims he can’t sweat. That’s a bad beat. Personally, I sweat profusely, so I have no prejudice against those who do likewise. At the gym, sweating is acceptable; however, there is one boundary you should never cross.
DON’T LEAVE THE EQUIPMENT ALL SWEATY!! Do you urinate all over the chairs in restaurant? (By the way, if you do, please explain). Every gym has paper towels and disinfectant to wipe down the equipment. They also have signs telling you to wipe down the equipment. So, WIPE DOWN THE FREAKIN’ EQUIPMENT! There is nothing grosser than to sit on equipment and realize that you are in a pool of someone else’s filth. STOP!
Done properly, abdominal crunches are very good exercise. If, like me, you have low back pain, they are especially good in relieving stress from your back. Here’s what they’re not good for: Giving washboard abs to a person 200 pounds overweight.
If you are at the gym to lose weight for beach season or just your health in general, I applaud you. What you are doing is admirable. Unfortunately, the crunch machines are not your first priority. Monopolizing the crunch equipment does not help you lose weight, and it angers those of us who need the equipment. We’re glad to share with you, but this is not the way to flatten that belly. Get rid of the belly first.
Weight lifting is, by its very nature, strenuous. That’s the whole point. You breakdown the muscle through lifting. As the muscle repairs, it adds bulk.
There are many theories on the best way to add bulk or gain strength. Some say a full body workout every other day. Some say 3 or 4 days a week rotating different muscle groups. Some suggest lighter weights for more reps, while others recommend heavier weights for fewer reps. All have their advantages and disadvantages. One thing I haven’t seen recommended is screaming your head off like a third-rate porn actress while you lift.
You know this guy. If you belong to a gym, he’s there. You can spot him. He’s usually BIG. Maybe not cut, but BIG. He wears one of those weightlifter belts that look like some sort of leather truss. He walks funny, kind waddling side to side. He drinks odd sludge-like drinks out of a plastic cup with a lid on it. He’s usually in the company of another one of his ilk. They “spot” each. They may even ask you to spot them. They put all the available weight on the equipment and maybe even throw a human on top as well.
Then it happens. He starts to lift. He has these strap things to tie around the weights to secure his hands to them. GRRROOAAWEHHHH!!!! The yell or scream or whatever you call it starts. It’s a guttural sound that will blast through your iPod music and startle everyone in the gym. That’s just the first rep. It will continue until he’s exhausted. You will be jarred each time.
Here’s the deal. If you’re using that much weight, how about dropping a few pounds? I suggest that any amount of weight which requires you to scream like that may not be all that good for you. Plus, it annoys the living hell out of everyone else. I don’t like it, and it must stop.
They arrive every year like the swans returning to Capistrano or the latest installment of the Saw film series. They will appear just after New Years Day, walking around with a gym employee. They stare at the equipment, nod their heads and then sign up for their new membership. They have resolved to lose weight, get in shape and become new people. They are the Resolvers.
They will invade the gym, usually in pairs (husband and wife, typically). They fumble about the weight rack and machines. They huff, puff and sweat. You, as a regular gym patron, will find parking to be at a premium. Your favorite machines will be monopolized. You will hate the Resolvers.
The good news is that the war of attrition takes its toll. Their numbers wane over the weeks. By mid-February, the herd has substantially thinned. By the time March rolls around, only a few remain. It is Darwinian. The gym will be yours again by Spring. Oh, a few of the Resolvers may become “regulars.” You will accept them as one of your own. In the meantime, don’t lose heart. Time is on your side.
WE LOVE SHORT SHORTS
A picture is indeed worth a thousand words:
If you have shorts like these, do not wear them. Yes, there was a time when this was acceptable, much like child labor and public executions. One exception: if you are female, a lot of us will be okay with this look.
OH SO PRETTY
I belong to a gym in the suburbs. Most of the people there are around my age–the Middle Aged. Unless I live to be 100, I’m not middle-aged, but you get the point. These are my people, and we’re not an attractive lot. We want to get in shape, but time and bad habits have caught up with us. So be it.
We are often subjected to Pretty People. They are usually–but not always–young. They are as tan as John Boehner. The girls wear lots of make up. The guys probably do, too. The girls have matching, color-coordinated assembles. The guys have ripped t-shirts. They are pretty, pretty people, and they know it.
Leave my gym. Now, I appreciate lovely young ladies as much as the next man, but I know that I am at the age where I am essentially invisible to them. The Pretty People annoy the Middle-Aged. We are not pretty. We are not going to become pretty. In fact, how we look today is probably the best we’ll look for the rest of our lives. We don’t need to be reminded of this. Pretty People need their own gym–or better yet–town. Leave us alone. Thank you.
This is but a small sampling of my random observations. I’ll likely post others from time to time. I could add dozens more, but I just got home from the gym. I’m tired.