Where can 50 men hang out naked with each other and not be gay? No, not Japan. The gym. Where can we walk around drenched in a pool of sweat, and not be embarrassed? No, not Alabama. The gym. Indeed, a lot of unusual things are completely normal at the gym. Grunting as if you were trying to scare off a bear that wondered into your campsite goes on without any notice. Except by me. With mirrors just about everywhere possible, the gym is the ideal place to do some serious people watching. Whether it is the guy in front of me doing chest presses whose forehead vein seems ready to rupture at the drop of a dime, or the man who is lifting little more than his fists worth of weight, but is still seemingly in excruciating pain, I take notice. In between sets of curls and lunges, I scan my surroundings with keen usage of my peripheral vision. Not to judge, but so I know what im dealing with, because the gym gets plenty of repeat business.
A usual will be a usual. Gym rats and newly inspired alike, all flock to their local 24, Bally’s, or a more prestigious private club, some day in and day out. If you become a usual, you know who will be there at certain hours, or maybe, when to dodge that middle aged man who is semi fit, but overly helpful. Friendships are easily formed at the gym. You allow someone to use a machine before you, or offer to spot a struggling lifter, and you’ve formed a bond; you’ve made a gym pal. This special brand of friends, are not really friends. You will never invite them anywhere, and likely will never speak outside of the gym walls, but inside, you are brothers. It’s possible that you will learn about their family life, because the locker room seems to be a favorite spot for old men to brag about their children and grandchildren. It’s basically naked men, sharing stories with each other about the debacle that was their granddaughter’s recital. Otherwise, talking sports with whatever semi knowledge they might possess. “Did you see Kobe? Oh man!” Yes, I saw him, but I don't want to talk about him with you while you have no pants on, so cover up and get back to me.
Overall, the gym is a good place. It does seem that people are happy to be there, or at least juiced that they got off their Judge Judy watching ass and took the first step towards a healthy lifestyle. People in the gym seem to respect each other. The fat ones are envious of the fit, and the fit ones proud of the fat. Either way, everyone’s there for the essentially the same thing, to get ripped, more or less. Whether you are maintaining your form, or toning up your abs for the beach this summer, you’re out in the open with it. There are no illusions in the gym; people are there for fitness, and little else. This creates a strong common ground, and always supplies a topic of conversation. So the next time you find yourself bored, looking for some light socializing, head to the gym. Open at all hours, to anyone: big, small, skinny, fat. So lace up your Nikes, and just do it.