Sunday, June 17, 2007

No Energy

I am perilously close to falling off the gym bandwagon. A few months ago, I wrote about my malaise at the gym. It didn’t pass like I imagined it would.

Going to the gym has never been one of my favorite activities. Basically I only attend the gym to keep from turning into a rounder, squishier version of myself. My goals are modest. Lately when I am at the gym, though, all I think is, “I am so fucking bored.”

Being bored at the gym just magnifies how much I dislike the activity. Walking through the doors, I am hit with the gym smell – which I hate.

It’s not even that my gym has a bad smell exactly. I mean, nobody would mistake it for a Victorian rose garden, but the place isn’t skanky. Still, I hate the smell of the cleaning products and the sweaty people inside.

Maybe that’s the issue. Maybe it’s the other people who drive me nuts. Can’t they join the rest of the United States and just give up on their health? I mean, we have our global reputation to consider. We aren’t going to stay the fattest nation in the world if people keep coming into my gym in order to sweat their ass off – literally. Doing that is downright unpatriotic. If we, as a nation, aren’t morbidly obese, clearly the terrorists have won.

Come on, Boston, look at the example being set by Houston. Now there is a patriotic city! Heck, all of Harris County is eating deep-fried cheesecake just to counteract Boston’s fanatical devotion to exercise and “sensible” living.

Of course, despite slimming down, most of the Boston gym folks still find a way to take up as much possible space in the locker room as they can. The men’s locker room in my gym has five (5) benches for a room that allegedly holds sixty people at a time. Yet, every time I go in there, some schmuck has managed to spread out all of his crap across one of the benches. He has his towel, his bag, his ipod, his sippy cup, his steroids, and an autographed picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger (with suspicious lip prints) strewn out so that nobody else can make use of it. Okay, maybe that’s not the actual contents of his bag – He uses a regular cup.

I know that I am just projecting my boredom at the gym on innocent bystanders (even if they are really annoying bystanders as well). Still, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for the gym.

To distract from the boredom, I have tried many different things. To occupy my mind, I focus on deciding important issues that aren’t related to the gym. For instance, today’s treadmill jaunt had me contemplating whether I could get away with incorporating catchphrases from either Wonder Woman (“Great Hera!”) or Samantha Stevens (“Oh My Stars!”) into my daily conversation. Even exploring such weighty issues hasn’t eased the tedium.

My ipod playlist has been reorganized and updated innumerable times. I have altered my cardio and even given into trying the elliptical machines. This didn’t bring the new thrills that I hoped.

Nothing is really helping. Not even pretending to have bionic legs and reenacting the intro to the Six Million Dollar Man keeps my attention on the treadmill.

Over the past few days, I have also been sorting through all the other reasons that people give for going to the gym. What about the endorphins? If you depend on endorphins to feel good, you need a better pharmacist.

How about adding years to your life? Screw that. How much time do I really need to spend on this planet? I mean, it’s not without its charm, but I am not certain that I am looking to take on extra shifts either. Isn’t there some deal where the children are our future? Aren’t they supposed to keep things running so that we can die early?

Part of the boredom probably results from the fact that I know that I have basically hit my plateau at the gym. Sure, I could push my body further, but that would require either a) changing my diet and/or b) increasing the amount of work that I actually do at the gym. Let me tell you now, neither of those things is going to happen. If it’s a choice between red wine and washboard abs, hand me the corkscrew. Conveniently, I can use it to open the wine and drill new holes into my belt as well.

It all seems so futile. I believe that it was the great philosopher Marilyn Monroe who noted, "We all lose our charms in the end." No matter how much one goes to the gym, we all age. Sure, we can keep the body in tune, but nothing changes the face. We've all see the guys with the fantastic bodies but an old head. I suppose, though, you don't look at the mantle when you are poking the fire.

Great Hera! About the only thing that barely keeps me going to the gym is the fear of being labeled “un-dateable.” Maybe I could just work on improving my personality instead.


Population One said...

...or get rich.

danny/ink2metal said...

"you don't look at the mantle when you are poking the fire". now that's a catch phrase i plan on incorporating into my daily conversations.

btw, did i mention that i am more than happy being the rounder, squishier version of myself. it was bound to happen sometime and i'm better off accepting it than trying to keep fighting it.

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

Gyms are indeed dull. Is there some outdoor sporting activity that interests you? I enjoy riding my bike around, so I do that. Or maybe instead of running on a stationary object, you could go to some interesting outdoor location (the woods, a cruising location, whatever) and run there. It does potentially require extras like rain gear, sun block and DEET, but at least it's not boring.

tornwordo said...

And anyway, fat feels good in bed. I hate working out, now it's more just to stave off the sagging somewhat, inevitable as it is.

I workout in the basement alone, so I have no bystanders to be disgusted with.

Anonymous said...

You should come to a Bikram class with me. It's not boring but the smell probably isn't much better (if not worse).

Anonymous said...

The last time I made the resolution to (really, really) work out more, the next day I fell and broke my leg. I take that as a message from god.
Incidentally, this coincides with the other message, where god told me I should eat more ice cream (see:'apparition of HUGE ice cream keg right in the middle of Avenue Loiuse', I think it was in the press).

vuboq said...

I hated going to the gym too (for the same reasons as you). That's why I stopped going. Now, to stay thin, I don't eat and get all my calories from likker. It's easier this way.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago I discovered how much I like (some) audio books. I always thought of them as declasse, airport-novel fare, something people listened to instead of reading, but there are some very good recordings available of new fiction and classics. I knit an entire scarf listening to Moby Dick, and my girlfriend and I are currently halfway through a recording of Alfred Molina reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
If you're not into fiction, there are also podcast lectures on all sorts of subjects.

Won't cure your general gym malaise, but it might distract you and make you feel less like time you could be feeding your brain.

Artistic Soul said...

I HATE the gym for many of the same reasons you do. I'm looking forward to a point where I will have a big enough place that I can get a rowing machine or stationary bike and work out at home -- at least that way I can control which TV channel is on while I'm working out.

pacalaga said...

Clearly, you just need more diamonds.

Tenured Radical said...

I can't help you, GayProf, as I am a rower, and part of the deal is being outside in beautifu surroundings and people who really know and are pissed if you don't show up. Also, if I dont work out for a chunk of time I become weepy, irritable and whine about aging and girth.

Do not, for God' sake, *buy* exercise eqipment unless you have a TV and DVD to hook up in front of it. And even then. Zillions, Great Hera, zillions! of people buy exercise equipment and then put it out on the street the next time they move.

Anonymous said...

I don't go to the gym, but don't seem to have any problems controlling my weight. I think it's partly because I go for insanely long walks after work (I work about four miles from home).

It's out in the fresh air, there's always a change of scenery around the corner and I'm normally thinking things other than 'this sucks'.

Bigg said...

Take a pack of post it notes to the gym with you and slap mean signs on people's backs. "Kick Me" always works, but I bet you could get way, way more creative.
Oh, and while I'm totally appreciative of the "Great Hera!" thing's Wonder Woman appeal for you, I think if you say "Oh My Stars!" with the same inflection as Samantha it would be almost as good...
I'm just saying.

Marius said...

Nothing beats a nice jog in the country--that's what I love about living in North Florida. I hate gyms, too.

Anonymous said...

Gayprof - I didn't bring this up when we met, (because my husband says I have a problem and scare people - he calls it swimvangelism - as in "Please don't scare Steve again with your swimvangelism!"), but I am always trying to recruit people for masters swimming.

I. Love. It. It is fun, you push yourself/are pushed very hard, each workout is different, it's kind of social, and there are usually some cute guys in very tiny bathing suits. And you get in really great shape. The kind of shape where your doctor checks your heart rate multiple times because he can't believe how low it is. So let's swim!
vuboq's cousin

GayProf said...

B: Being a historian, I think that is unlikely. Sigh

Hello, My Name is Danny: I've already been a rounder, squisher version of myself. That's why I started going to the gym in the first place.

Les: What is this place "outdoors" of which you speak?

Torn: Fat might feel good in bed, but not many single folk are considering that when sizing up a potential bedtime companion.

Jason: I am not sure that more sweating is the answer...

LisaLogic: Breaking my leg to stay out of the gym sounds a little severe, but I just might try it!

VUBOQ: The said reality is that I would rather give up drinking than eating.

Anon: I have considered the books-on-cd (or books-on-ipod). My ipod, though, is pressed for space. It would require me figuring out how to allocate my digital resources.

Artistic Soul: Yeah, but exercise equipment takes up so much space.

Pacalaga: Square cut or pear shape, these rocks don't lose their shape.

Tenured Radical: I don't respond well to group pressure.

Ashley: I already walk tons. Man, I begging to wonder just how much am I eating...

Bigg: I can do the nose twitch. Does that count?

Marius: Being in the country means bugs... Why isn't anyone encouraging me to drink more?

VUBOQ's Cuz: I would need to learn to swim in a real way first. Right now I barely keep from drowning.

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

I love your blog, but I hate the gym! :-)

Elizabeth McClung said...

well, I hate the gym too - which is why I do sports now where there are lots of people doing them together and you kinda have to feel that you should keep up in this non-competitive way - (except being me, the sports usually involve some sort of intense pain/training or both) - but I thought the communal stuff could work - linda takes a 90 minute jogging course where you spend the first 45-60 minutes listening to lectures different aspects of running - then you go for a 25-35 minute run. It might not actually help you get in shape, but you do run, just not those crazy amounts that people who call themselves runners do. Or badminton? Dunno - are the wieghts ever happy to have been lifted?

dykewife said...

if you're bored get a gym buddy to work out with you. or go roller blading in your new city. or go bicycling in your new city and explore all the neato keen haunts. or something. :)

gwoertendyke said...

i hate the gym too. the smell. the people looking at themselves, either in hate or lust, in the mirrors. the sense of never feeling good in your own body.

fuck the gym. go for long walks and do aerobics to madonna or some techno in your house with 5 lb weights.

Antonio said...

I joined a gym last week and I'm enjoying it so far. Checking out the guys lifting weights and the cute boy behind the counter more than makes up for any boredom. If you have an iPod, might I suggest downloading TV episodes of your favorite shows? If you don't want to pay, there are plenty of torrents out there and programs to convert to the iPod video format.

Clio Bluestocking said...

Red wine is supposed to be healthy for you, as is dark chocolate. There's your diet, right there.

Doug said...

I like Dykewife's use of "neato keen."

Anyway, back to you. I can't help you with your gym-aversion. I enjoy our little tennis/gym club. It doesn't smell gymmy, though I don't know why not. Perhaps you could rub some aromatherapy on your upper lip before entering.

Also, your gym clearly doesn't have enough motivating eye candy. You need to either recruit some new members or find a gym that delivers the goods.

r said...

I'm with Clio. Red wine, dark chocolate... that's the workout for me.

I have been paying a gym membership for the past 4 years and have gone in maybe three times.

The gym makes me feel fat.

Laughtonightcrytomorrow said...

Come on man, just suck it up. Bulging biceps beat sparkling personality — there's no way around it. Conversation is much more heavy lifting work! I’d rather silently, sweatily stretch my sinew and feel confident in slim silo clothes than chew the fat any day. Just tune out and turn on to muscle baby! It's the easiest hour your going to have all day.

GayProf said...

J. David Zacko Smith: Hail, Amazon Sister! I enjoy my blog more than the gym as well.

Elizabeth: I hate sports competition. Too many school-era traumas to even contemplate joining a team.

DykeWife: I have been thinking about a bike. To be honest, though, I have not been on one since I learned to drive (at age 14). Shocking, isn't it? I hear, though, that you never forget...

Adjunct Whore: Yeah, the mirror gazing is a bit odd in the gym. Still, when a hunky man lifts up his shirt to inspect his abs, I am willing to let it slide.

Antonio: Sure, the eye-candy is a big plus to the gym (see above). After awhile, though, you end up seeing the same guys over and over. They get progressively less interesting.

Clio: It's so crazy, it just might work!

Doug: Given that I am about to move, I am hoping a new gym in my new locale will break the monotony.

Rebekah: Yeah, the downside to the male eye candy is that I then feel inadequate (It's a strange thing to both lust after and feel shamed by the same men).

James: Yeah, I am not really willing to do the work to fix my personality. Still, the gym is so time consuming. It's not just the time there, but the changing, showering, and waiting for the bus in each direction.

Tenured Radical said...


The survey says (drumroll): academics hate the gym!


dykewife said...

no, you don't forget how to ride a bike. all that's needed is a parking lot and a bit of practice to catch some of the intricacies it can entail. i would recommend getting a bike with a minimum of 18 gears unless there are few and not very steep hills where you're going to. hills are so much easier to handle when one can gear down for them.