Monday, January 05, 2009

Living the Resolution

After traveling and being ill, it had been a couple of weeks since I had been to the gym. Going back felt great. And by great, I mean lousy. Ugh – I became a prof to avoid having to do heavy lifting.

Upon returning I found that my local gym was packed with people enacting their New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and/or get in shape. Given that I have constant struggles to maintain my weight, I understand the pain of getting back to it. In fact, it turns out that losing weight is the number one resolution that most Americans make. Reducing crippling debt is number two for most people (It’s my personal favorite for three years running). Number three is quitting smoking, which I have luckily never started (Resolution accomplished!). After those top three, the popularity of resolutions becomes a bit more scattered. Number four might have something to do with maintaining urological health. The fifth one is “putting a ring on it.” I am pretty sure that number six is about being more like GayProf.

Regardless, if you are one of the erstwhile folk entering the gym for the first time to slim down a bit, or just to tone up, let me tell you a few secrets that I have learned:

    The gorgeous personal trainer who chats you up in the gym and hangs on your every word isn’t about to ask you for a date. S/He just wants your money. Have you ever been to a gay strip club in Montréal? No? Luckily, GayProf has gone so that you don’t have to – That’s the type of blogger that I am – Selfless in the pursuit of knowledge. One thing that you’ll quickly learn in a Montréal gay strip club is that the performers can size up audience members quickly and efficiently. They know within a minute of being on stage who will lay out the extra cash for the pleasure of their company. Trust me, they probably have a better sense of your current credit score than Visa does. They ignore most of the audience in favor of a select few (lonely, rich, or drunk) individuals who they know will hand out the bills if given "special" attention.

    Personal trainers have similarly honed their skills. They target the folk who are the most uncertain about being in a gym. They know how to stroke your ego just enough (“You have such good form!”) that you won’t even remember signing up for a month’s worth of nonrefundable $80 sessions.

    One of the most unconvincing fictions that people accept in a gym is that it is “much easier” to shower at home. You mean it is easier to wrap your sweaty self in a thick layer of winter clothing, slog out to the car in your gym shoes, allow the sweat to dry to a crusty film as you drive home, and then get into the shower? The awful truth is that most people are too self-conscious and worried that others will judge their bodies that they avoid the gym showers. Put those worries aside. The gym showers aren't the same ones from seventh grade. Nobody is going to judge your body – out loud.

    Most of the gym “smoothies” will just make you fatter. A dash of protein powder and a couple of bananas doesn’t mean that the tasty milk-based drink isn’t loaded with extra calories and fat (Not to mention worth a fraction of the six bucks that you plunk down for it). It was some type of genius who came up with the notion of installing a milkshake station in gyms, but making them sound healthy by calling them “smoothies.” People are desperate to lose weight, so you decide to serve dessert? Isn't that a little like opening a bar in an AA meeting, but instead of serving Martinis you say that you are serving “elixiries?” Actually, I would totally join a gym with a bar in it.

    Recently divorced guys loiter around the gym. Maybe they are gay, maybe they are straight. It is one of the few cases where sexuality doesn’t matter. You’ll know the recently divorced because they are leaking desperation. They are the ones who are just a little too eager to talk with gym goers a decade younger than themselves. If straight, they will likely be confused by the notion that most women actually go to the gym just to work out. Recently divorced guys are also the ones who most often try to lift an absurd amount of weight for their muscles. Don’t worry, they will be okay. Right now they are under the delusion that the end of their ten-year marriage magically teleported them back in time to a decade ago when they were twenty-five. If approached by one of theses guys, say something supportive yet noncommital.

    Every gym has its own sense of courtesy. Circuit training is great – But totally impossible if your gym is not set up for it. If you are in a standard gym and attempting to circuit train, you are essentially asking to monopolize three or four machines all at the same time. Also, avoid the Princess Di syndrome in the locker room. Most locker rooms have a single center bench in the middle of a bank of lockers. This is not there for you to spread out the entire contents of your gym bag, thus giving the rest of us no place to sit and put on our shoes.

    That beautiful guy with the enormous arms and stunning set of abs is taking anabolic steroids. Sorry, kiddies, it’s a big lie that serious hard work and devoted exercise will turn all of us into rippling mounds of muscle. Heck, if goody-goody Steve Rogers couldn’t do it without tapping government-developed ‘roids, what chance do the rest of us got?

    Oh, sure, the guy whose arms look like he is illegally smuggling anvils works out a lot. In fact, you probably see him at the gym every time you go. But, without the juice, it wouldn’t be possible for his biceps’ circumference to surpass his hat size. Men and women’s bodies really do have limits that can’t be broken without chemical intervention. I am not saying that steroids are good. I am not saying that they are bad. All I am saying is that some folk are quite obviously taking them as part of their gym addiction and lying about it.

    Wearing jewelry during exercise is nasty. Unless you are fresh off a tour as a Hip-Hop star, leave the gold chains at home. Do you really want it encased with the stuff your body excretes under stress?

    After February ends and most of the other New Year’s resolution folk return to their living rooms, you will come to the realization that there are more gay men in your gym at any given moment than the local gay bar. It’s something that the fitness industry doesn’t want to acknowledge, but us gays keep most gyms financially afloat. Hey, if our community didn’t foster ridiculously high standards for male beauty along with crushing low-self esteem due to natural aging, many of these joints would have folded years ago. Now, where did I put those steroids?


Mel said...

My membership is all paid up. Isn't that enough?

vuboq said...

You have pretty much encapsulated why I hate the gym in one Fun Post. You rock, GayProf! (and I need to add "Be more like GayProf" to my 2009 List)


VintageSpandex said...

Incidentally, did you ever get the CDs I sent?

Antonio said...

My gym doesn't even have showers (it's also really cheap), so we patrons have no choice but to let our sweat dry on our skin until we get home. I don't mind, I don't feel like lugging my body wash and the like with me.

I thought gyms were known for their loiterers. A common complaint I hear from people who work out seriously is that too many see a gym as a social club (particularly with women who get on treadmills and never break a sweat).

My personal trainer says it's impossible to tell if someone takes steroids by just looking at them, although this is certainly not true for the extreme cases.

If there are any other gay men at my gym, I wish they'd make themselves known, 'cause sometimes I look around and I have to wipe drool off my chin.

Danielle in Iowa said...

How kind of you to pass on advice to all the New Year Resolution people... really I would just prefer to shoot them so I didn't have to wait for a treadmill anymore...

Oh but I will note that I got plantar warts from the shower at my gym and they don't clean them regularly (I routinely see the same hair on the floor or the wall that was there the day before), so I do prefer to bundle up and shower at home...

GayProf said...

Mel: From the persepective of the gym owners, a member who has paid but never enters the gym is ideal.

VUBOQ: The gym isn't so bad, once you get passed the sweating, exhaustion, and generally bad smell. Hmm -- Maybe it is bad.

Vintage Spandex: I did indeed. Thanks much.

Antonio: My personal trainer says it's impossible to tell if someone takes steroids by just looking at them

Sounds like something somebody would say if they were taking steroids.

Yeah, the divorced are not the only loiters. There should be a no-talking section of the gym. And if you aren't sweating on a treadmill, you need to step off and make way for the serious.

Danielle in Iowa: First, I love, love, love your avatar.

It's true that the NYR people are a bit in the way of us more regular gym attendees. But I want to give them the benefit of the doubt that this year they will actually stick to their resolution.

pacalaga said...

I subscribe to the same fitness theory Mel does.
I do believe that being more like GayProf is tied with quitting smoking. Last year I quit smoking. This year I hope to quit wishing I was STILL smoking.

Bill S. said...

My apartment has a fitness center in it, so at least I don't have to worry about showering. I just have to worry about getting back to my apartment without offending my neighbors by being gross and sweaty.

I feel weird working out there, though, because the median age for the apartment residents seems to be 24, and they work out a lot. In the summer its not a problem; they run outside, along the canals. But once it got colder, they just congregate in the fitness center, making me feel old and fat. And, you know, using all the machines, so I end up standing around waiting for the treadmill or the bike or something. Although I have noticed that I seem to get cruised a lot there, which is slightly comforting.

tornwordo said...

Wait, you were in Montreal and I wasn't alerted? It's so true though, when I was a tourist and went to the strip club, the dancers were on me like stink on shit, but now that I live here, they never ever approach me.

I like my word verification. It's primho.

pbw said...

gay prof this post makes me extra happy to be a girl. Our gym: private changing stalls with heated benches and little lockable cubbies and private showers (except for the 3 calcium gunked nozzles by the nasty metalic toilet near the pool . . . ewww . . .). Our shakes however taste like chalk and grass w/an occasional sweet hint of fruity mold.

Roger Owen Green said...

The other thing about showering at the gym - it's on their dime. I mean, your membership helps pay the water bill, bi=ut if you shower at home when the facility has showers, that's just crazy talk!

jeremy said...

Yup, you got me--"lose weight." Im' shooting for the elusive goal of 2 pounds a month for the year. We'll see . . .
And secondly, you had a weight problem? I would NEVER have guessed. That picture I have of us--you're a toothpick. And you ARE a skinny-mini. So don't freak, yo!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting (and true) observations, CoG! But I never pictured you as someone who has trouble with his own weight. I somehow thought you were relatively tall and skinny with a sky-high metabolism.

GayProf said...

Pacalaga: Given my addictive personality, it is a miracle I never took up smoking.

Bill S.Although I have noticed that I seem to get cruised a lot there, which is slightly comforting.

Even if you aren't going to the party, it's always nice to be invited.

TornWordo: This was a trip to Montréal long, long ago -- In the before time.

PBW: I want to join your gym.

ROG: And they provide you with soap, too. It's all very easy.

Jeremy: I have been much heftier than I am currently (or was in Boston), but that's only because I go to the gym. If I stopped going, the weight would return with a vengeance.

AFOD: In "RL", I am 5'11"; however, people always imagine that I am shorter than that. I attribute it to my impish personality.

Earl Cootie said...

Sometimes, I harbor the fantasy of returning to the gym (after more than fifteen years not setting foot in one), but I think you may have dispelled that notion. I would be one of those gym owners' ideals - never returning after my first visit.

And FWIW, my semi-resolution (my New Years Equivocation?) is to be less shy about commenting on blogs. Yeah, we'll see how that goes.

Laverne said...

I've got such a good gym membership, I can't quit. $26 a month for life. How can that go wrong?

Oh wait. You mean I should go more than twice a year? Yeah, that would be a better deal.

I usually shower at home... but then, winter clothes for me mean a long-sleeved rather than a short-sleeved shirt.

CoffeeDog said...

I avoid the locket room at all costs. Nasty, scary places. For men, I cannot even fathom, the cruising that goes on.

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