the circular runner

5 Minute Rant: Gyms and Rules…

In humor, life, observations, writing on December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm

OK, if you’re one of those people who gets their endorphins from pushing your body beyond reason at the gym every morning, you won’t get this post, so please stop reading. You’ll just be offended, and then I’ll feed bad, and then you’ll feed bad, and all those endorphin critters will just go away and die sad, unmotivated deaths. So go on. I mean it. Go do some crunches or a quick 10-miles. You can come back tomorrow. I promise. Yes, I love you, too. I mean it. I do.

Good. Now that the room is clear, let’s talk gyms. Specifically, let’s talk about the gym-literalist, a certain type of gym rat that in my younger days, I would’ve called a gym-fascist, but fascist is so over-used now, so I am calling this person a literalist.  Let me explain what I mean by using myself as an example.  I am into metaphors. I look at things with a little bit of ironic detachment. So when I go to my local gym, which has a bunch of machines set up in what the owners call a circuit, I understand that there’s a symbolic beginning and end-point to the exercise routine, but I also know that in practice, this might not work out. The gym-literalist is not equipped to handle this reality. He or she sees the signs and thinks, yes, structure. You know gym-literalists, they usually are middle aged men and women who have that kind of weird, overly-exercised look. Their bodies are fit, but their faces look old, joyless and lined, like prunes, which is fitting because for the gym-literalist, prunes are like some kind of decadent food that they can only long for.

Anyway, the other day, I was working my way through the circuit. Loud music was playing–something Lady Gaga-ish, I think. And aside from the music, things were ok. They weren’t great because I’m not a morning exerciser, but mornings are when I have time, so that’s when I do my workout. The gym I go to has a little chime go off every 90 seconds to tell us when we need to move on to the next part of the circuit, which makes the people working out in the gym seem a bit like synchronized swimmers. Chime and move, chime and move.

About halfway through, I could see that something was off–one of us had forgotten his part of the move. From what I could tell, a literalist who was two machines ahead of me was staring down a more metaphorically-minded guy. Mr. Metaphor had jumped in mid-circuit, thus cutting off the literalist, which was a major no-no. Now, there was a machine available right next to the one the literalist needed, but the literalist couldn’t see it. The circuit, for him, was a thing of order. Similar to the way he matched his shoes to his workout clothes exactly, the literalist believed in rules and exactness and this metaphor-monger was screwing things up.  It could’ve gotten messy, but thanks to the fact that metaphor-people are, by their very nature, flexible, the literalist got what he needed and we could go on.

I’m not trying to make fun of the literalist, though.  Aside from the fact that he went out and actually bought mint green running shoes and then matched them to his cycling pants, I have no issue with him. In fact, at some level I get the literalist’s dilemma. The guy works hard. He’s at the gym early before he has to go into his job. I’m sure that his job is probably some place where he gets a lot of order and maybe his workplace even requires it out of him. But on the other hand, there was this part of me that kind of wanted to tell him to get a grip, skip out early and get some corn-syrup in his veins, or if not that, then some artisanal dark chocolate truffle. I mean the guy was losing his sh*t over the order of a workout. Maybe he should try wearing shoes that don’t match his clothes. Something. Anything. Or maybe not.

Am I right in the way I look at the world? Am I right not to take rules “literally” all the time?  I don’t know. But that’s just it. I don’t really believe in set answers, so I can’t even answer this question with a question that will take me very far. Look, the literalist-guy had a nice pair of shoes and expensive workout clothes–it can’t be cheap to get workout clothes that ugly or minty-green.  Whereas I wear sweats. Maybe this is the answer to why I’m not rich. Maybe. But then again, maybe not.


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