I’m into fitness, take eight: At the gym

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I used to be afraid of the gym. It can be an intimidating place. Mainly, though, I hated the thought of everybody looking at the fat guy. I did all my weight training at home.

That all changed in August … by accident. A co-worker’s husband asked if I’d check out the Student Recreation and Wellness Center at Washburn, where I work. I was hesitant, but accepted, partly because they had a special offer – any time the temperature was above 90, you could work out for free (pretty much every day in August).

We went to the gym on Aug. 5. I have been there nearly every day since.  I’ve found that a lot of the things I feared about the gym are silly. Nobody is looking at you. If they are, they’re not working out. Or they’re impressed. At least that’s what I tell myself.

I’m fortunate to have access to the gym I do. As an employee, I pay about $15 a month for access to every machine you can imagine, plus a track to run around, basketball courts, climbing wall and a shower after working out.

And the gym is rarely busy. Maybe the students work out in the mornings or evenings. I know not many of them show up around lunch time.

The ones who do, most of them anyway, are great. It’s like a fraternity of people working out. Same faces, same routines, every day. Hell, some have even offered tips on lifting (so maybe they are looking at the FORMER fat guy).

There are few annoyances. Not that I’m an expert, but some things should be commonsense. A few things about bad gym etiquette:

STOP GRUNTING, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

I understand exerting yourself, heavy breathing. I get it. But, please, don’t grunt like you’re showing your “O” face. It’s annoying as hell. And it makes you look like a jackass.

DON’T DROP THE WEIGHTS

It’s right there on the wall. Rule No. 1. Don’t drop the weights. If you have to drop them, you’re lifting too much weight. And it’s not an impressive sign of strength. It’s a distraction.

CLEAN UP, YOU SLOB

You can be kicked out of some gyms for not wiping down the equipment when you’re done. At Washburn’s wellness center, the student workers often walk around and clean the machines. Still, they can’t do that their entire shift, so you should clean up. Nobody wants to sit or lay in a puddle of somebody else’s sweat.

DON’T BE AN ASS

I don’t think the guy meant anything by it, but he was lifting with a buddy, who told him he should ask me to spot for him on an exercise. The guy said, in earshot, “He can’t handle that weight.” I promptly walked over and picked up the 80-pound dumbbell with one hand and said, “Here.” The shocked look was awesome. Be considerate. And don’t underestimate people.

Despite the above “issues” at the gym, don’t be afraid to get out there. I regret not giving it a try a lot earlier. You might even find that you enjoy it.

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