Working Things Out (At the Gym)

The other day I was at one of those candy stores with the big bins where customers put random candy into a bag, pay for it according to weight and then regret everything they buy when they get home. But this experience was different from others, because as I was scooping gummy alphabet letters into a bag, a worker in the store asked me, “Is there anything special you’re looking for?”

What else could I say but this: “Yeah, I am looking for two letter Z’s so that I can spell ‘fuzzy,’ but I only see N’s in here. Should I just turn those to the side?”

I am amazed by the amount of help supplied at stores where people don’t really need the help, and yet — an hour later — when I went to the gym, there was not a single person there who asked me if I needed anything. This is not to say I needed help, per se, but let’s face it: there are a lot of weights at a gym and I could easily pick up a couple of them and start throwing them at people, or drop them on my foot, if I get annoyed or didn’t know what I was doing…

I have recently returned to the gym after a two-month hiatus. To summarize briefly, I found myself at the gym this summer almost every day and somehow gained ten pounds in the process, but when September hit, I fell out of my routine. Apparently no one there missed me because I didn’t receive a single phone call about it, like, “Hey Greg, we want you back at the gym so that the rest of us look stronger.” The fact that no one noticed my absence made me realize that my time spent at the gym was a success: I somehow managed to fit in.

See, my goal at the gym is not to be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest. Rather, I want someone to walk by me and say, “There’s a guy who knows what he is doing. That’s right, I say to myself, there is someone who truly knows how to use the gym equipment properly.”

I know that if people say that, besides having a few psychological issues, they will see me as a person with a plan. Little would they know, however, that this is basically my gym plan that I am sharing with the world — or at least the part of the world that has gyms:

1. Do some sort of warm-up routine to stall as much time as possible.

2. Walk around the gym in such a way that it seems like stretching. Putting an arm behind your neck or moving your torso in circles as you walk helps to accomplish this effect.

3. Use the equipment and weights. If unsure of how to use something, read the little guide attached to it. Just don’t let anyone know you are reading this because the idea is for people to think you are experienced. Simply stand up next to the guide and pretend to stretch your legs. If you somehow misunderstand the directions and someone points that out, reply, “Oh, I’m done with doing it the real way. I’ve moved on to something much better with this machine.” If said confidently, everyone else will start doing it your way within a week. Two weeks after that, everyone will complain of strains and pains. Just don’t acknowledge those as your fault.

4. Before exiting, walk around so that as many people see you as possible. This will add to your wanted reputation as a regular at the gym. Some will even spread the rumor: “You know, I always see you all over this gym. You really do everything.”

My plan will make you stronger, faster, better looking and, of course, more popular. Before long, you — and I — will be so strong that gyms will not be sufficient enough. At that point, candy stores will be the new hang-out, especially if they refill the gummy alphabet bin. I am looking forward to getting some Z’s…

But I digress.