The Gym

Last night I went to the gym for the first time in… oh, let’s not even try to guess how long. It’s been a while. Sure, I used the treadmill at the hotel a couple of times over the past 2 months, and I’ve been walking a lot (not having a rental car in a strange town tends to cause that), but I haven’t really worked out for quite some time. So I did, and it was a really wimpy workout because I didn’t want to make myself so sore that I couldn’t work out again today. But it felt good just to be there and know that I was doing something good for myself.

One annoying thing is that I forgot my walkman (it was still in my backpack from the plane trip), so I was forced to listen to the music that the gym plays on the loudspeaker. Which is ok, I guess, but I’m not a huge R&B fan, so it gets irritating after a while. Plus, I’ve found that when I have my own music on, I can zone out because I’m listening to a song that I really love, and I forget that I’m working out. Without my music, exercising can get a bit tedious.

So I found a new hobby to pass the time: make up stories about the other people at the gym. I’ve discovered that it really is a great place for people-watching. I mean sure, there are more than enough gym rats, and I didn’t waste much time trying to think of anything creative for them because I really just see them as mindless drones whose only thoughts are of the superficial variety. But there’s the middle-aged woman who’s in so-so shape and is working out like a maniac… I wonder if she’s just had a rough day at work, or if maybe she’s going through a divorce and is trying to get herself into prime dating shape. There’s the young girl who appears to be struggling with an eating disorder – running on the treadmill for an hour, with her ribs plainly visible below her sports bra, and her upper arms thinner in circumference than her elbows. There are the couples who work out together, and I imagine them at home, measuring out portions for each other’s meals, making sure that they both stick to their diet.

And then there was the guy who made me sad. He was hard to miss at the gym, because he was all over the place. Sometimes he’d just pace around the floor, sometimes he’d do a little dance around the room, sometimes he’d shadow box, sometimes he’d do these amazing Rockette kicks in the air. But he never stopped moving. It looked completely random, and he appeared to be mentally unstable. Then I noticed that he was pretty badly burned down one side of his body. I wondered if that was the result of a bad accident, or if (based on his ethnic heritage) he was the victim of a hate crime. Both ideas made me almost ill with sadness. Later, I saw another gym patron talking to him, and he appeared calmer. In fact, that was the only time I saw him stop moving. Maybe he’s just lonely and spazzing out is a good ice-breaking conversation piece. Who knows.

Point being, I really have to remember to bring my walkman with me to the gym.

The final vacation update, complete with Disneyland pictures and all, will be posted later. I’m still trying to get used to being home. (To quote Martha, it’s a good thing.)