Monday, January 12, 2009

Heavyset to Hardbodies ... and everything in between

I’ve been frequenting the gym long enough to observe that there is an interesting ecosystem within it. And just as with any other, this ecosystem has defined clicks and even a definite pecking order, as well as a few odd ducklings. Once you enter the gym doors, it’s as if you’re stepping through a threshold into a parallel universe… it is literally its own little world.

There are several different groups of people divided amongst the various sweaty corners of the gym.

First, there are the Cardio Queens. They are usually drop dead gorgeous, painted with a full face of makeup, and adorned in perfectly matching workout clothes. The upper echelon of this group sports long, flowing locks that she doesn’t dare pull back into a pony tail (it’s so odd seeing someone on a treadmill with their hair down to their waist, I dare say it’s unnatural). Rarely do they exercise hard enough to break a sweat (their flat stomachs the result of tummy tucks, not toning), and they can often be seen socializing with other C.Q.’s on the treadmill. I’ve even seen one treadmill reading that she’d been walking for 30 minutes and only traveled a mere .5 mile. C.Q.’s are usually in the gym for about three hours in order to complete their 30 minute workout because pesky socializing gets in the way.

The archetype to the Cardio Queens is the Hulks—Big, burly men who grunt when they do their reps. They don’t walk, they strut, and their arms stick out at a 45 degree angle because of their enormity. I think they are all in a major competition with each other to see who can develop the biggest bulging vein amongst their collections of bulky muscles.

The Hulk’s female counterpart is Mrs. Hardcore. These are women who without long hair and sports bras would be confused as men. They don’t just have a six pack; they have an 8 pack, even a 10 pack in extreme cases. They only relax when they’re in the tanning bed, otherwise they are performing some sort of training. And no doubt, they are juiced up on some sort of illegal overseas pharmaceuticals, because it just ain’t natural to look like that.

Next, there is the yoga group. They perch upon their mats, spending a luxurious hour stretching and contorting into various poses. Never before have I met calmer people than the die hard yogis. Calm, peaceful, low talkers, they always seem focused on the miracle of their Zen. Everything I strive to be but alas, am not.

On the complete other end of the spectrum are the Spinners. They do everything fast-- they talk fast, they walk fast, therefore they burn calories fast. And if you watch them during a spin class, you can tell they are pushing themselves so far that they almost might die, but don’t. I’m always waiting for someone to stroke out and fall off a bike, but it hasn’t happened yet. And within this group, it’s a true badge of honor to have puddles of sweat collecting beneath you.

Then there is a special specimen, “Naked Old Lady in the Locker Room” (NOLITLR for short). I mean seriously, why can’t she just be “Old Lady in the Locker Room” – why must she be naked? And when I say old, I mean old. Just today I walked into the locker room and NOLITLR was right by the door. I was not at all prepared for that. This is a pretty big locker room we’re talking about, with at least 15 sinks, and she chooses to take her nakedness to the one that’s right by the door to wash her hands. What boggles my mind is that she often has a towel wrapped around her waist (which I appreciate, really I do)—why not boost it up and cover up the Girls too? It is a locker room, and I suppose it’s an appropriate place to be naked, but there’s nothing wrong with being dressed either. Her exhibitionism amazes me. You’d think she was a hot chick the way she prances around, but nope, she’s NOLITLR. Today I was granted to special treat of listening to NOLITLR’s conversation with another old lady—they were talking about vertigo. NOLITLR, if you’re prone to passing out, perhaps you shouldn’t be traipsing around naked. Could you imagine if the paramedics had to haul you out on a stretcher, buck naked?

And lastly (a recent addition) is the New Year’s Resolution clan. They really have no typical physical definitions as they are all ages, sizes, and include those in both sexes. They clog the gym for the month of January, staring at machines they can’t figure out and lifting free weights in an awkward, improper fashion, generally making you insane. They hog up the spin passes only to quit ten minutes in, leaving those who might actually want to take the full hour to settle for an hour on the treadmill. Oh, and P.S. -- putting the treadmill incline at Level 7 and hanging on the the handlebar for dear life while your legs chase after you... doesn't count as exercise. No worries though, they’re gone by Valentine’s Day, no doubt curled up somewhere with a giant heart-shaped box of chocolates.


BrianG said...

Great post......Amber asked me what I was laughing so hard about.

Lucinda said...

I think you really missed your calling, you should have been a comedian!!

That was great! We totally have those same groups at my gym. Except I don't fit into any of those...wonder what my group would be? How about the group of people who go to the gym every single day, and will lose weight at first, but then look exactly the same for MONTHS, or even GAIN weight! Oh, it's a never ending battle.