I went to the gym and it felt good
The phrase ‘Oh I just went to the gym’ is always met with a short moment of silence, and then followed by an admiring ‘Wow! That’s great!’, whether the person actually meant it or not. I like to think of the slight pause as the other person taking a moment to contemplate the sheer amount of dedication on my part. Which is why I always make sure I look as spent and wet as possible as I soldier my way bravely back to my university dorm room. Most of the water in my bottle goes over my head rather than into me, and I sometimes put on a limp just to make the picture more convincing.
I started going to the gym a few years ago, when a friend came across some free membership coupons. Soon we were hitting the gym every other day of the week, spending most of our time chatting and watching Happy Tree Friend on the computers in the leisure area. The gym we went to was quite well equipped and had a sauna. We’d go in fully clothed, to the surprise of the half-naked people inside, and five minutes later we would look (and smell) as if we’d just run a marathon. Our mothers never suspected any foul play.
The free membership soon ran out, and the moment my parents saw the full price, they told me to start going to a government gym. This wouldn’t have been a problem had I actually used the gym to exercise, as the government gyms are pretty well equipped. Unfortunately there was neither a leisure area nor a sauna, which meant that I actually had to work up a sweat.
To use a government gym you first had to do a course in gym safety, where they basically force you to watch a 3 hour video of two incredibly photogenic people calmly using all of the common gym equipment. Despite not having touched any of said equipment myself, I was confident that the video was misleading. Having been in a gym for a month, I knew that a) people going to the gym usually weren’t that good looking, and b) people usually don’t have a serene smile on their faces when lifting weights. If anything, they looked like they had had sustained bowel inactivity. That said, I did manage to learn how to use most of the equipment without breaking it or myself.
After the course I went to a government gym next to my home for what was my first real gym session. I soon realised that they don’t teach you one crucial thing in the gym safety course— the Art of Grunting. Doesn’t matter who it is or how hard or easy the exercise is; rippling muscles or lanky limbs, young or old, everybody grunts like a porn actor faking an orgasm when they’re at the gym. And they do it in such a natural way that I usually end up rooted to one place listening to all the grunting around me as you would listen to a choir. In a way, it was very much like a choir— the perfectly timed grunts shifting between harmony and dissonance with the ground bass of the creaking machinery, the uniform expression on each chorister’s scrunched up face… all coming together to form a symphony of sweat. I yearned to join in, so I started to practice grunting myself.
It’s harder than it seems. One must grunt at the right time and in the right tone to make it look convincing. I half expected a trainer to come along and correct me. Actually, I desperately wished for that to happen. Unfortunately it didn’t, and it took me three weeks to notice that you don’t grunt when you’re on cardio-equipment like the cycling machine, and you only grunt when you are pulling or lifting something, and not when you’re letting go of it. I still feel slightly ashamed about how my fellow grunters must have thought of me back then, an amateur trying to join in their chorus. I take pride in saying I am now very much a full member.
One problem remained. People always say that they ‘feel good’ after going to the gym. I didn’t. I feel like I’ve been violated by numerous evil little fairies sticking their spears all over my body and smothering me with a potent magic dust, leaving me aching and light headed. Some people say that it’s ‘good pain’— an oxymoron if there ever was one. I felt that I was missing something.
I soon found a solution. This came in the form of a tacit pact of competition between me and the previous user of the machine or the person next to me. I say tacit because I never tell them about it— that would just be weird. I would never take away any weights that were already attached to the bar, and when doing cardio-exercises, I would always do it faster than the people next to me, and would not get off until they did. Initially this resulted in a few injuries— once my left wrist swelled to the size of a tennis ball, but soon I learned to choose my machines strategically. If there was a machine set to 50 kg, I would avoid it until someone set it to 30. If there was a fit runner on the treadmill next to an empty one, I would avoid it and go for one that had an old person next to it instead. This resulted in a lot of wandering around when waiting for the right machine, but it all pays off when the person next to me starts wheezing and stumbles off. I guess my proudest moment so far was when a thin teenage girl started to turn white and being the true sportsman that I am, I pressed my advantage, gritted my teeth and jacked my treadmill up to 15km/hour. As time progressed I was able to move from old people to young teenage girls, and then to middle aged men.
Soon I was truly getting a sense of fulfilment from my gym sessions, and started to enjoy working out. You might think me pathetic, but when I’m dripping with a mixture of sweat and water, I can honestly say through my rhythmic panting— ‘I went to the gym and it felt good’.
The Blobbing Fish
Kind of a change from the norm, but hopefully you found it funny! 🙂