Friday, February 17, 2006

The Gym

Observations of Exercise and my Gym

Oso recently posted about going to the gym and the reasons people work out.

I thought about this while I spent a couple of hours (ok, it was more like just under two hours) there this morning. As I strode on the eliptical trainer watching women's curling on the television overhead, I pondered why I and the people around me were there.

In his post, Oso discusses the issue of vanity. Now, while I could stand to lose several pounds, I don't think vanity is the issue for me. I certainly want to look my best for my wife, I am confident that she loves me regardless of the state of my body. My personal reason for being there is health, both physical and mental. As I approach middle age (or am I already there?), I feel the importance to nuture my body. The extra pounds I carry around are an added stress that certainly my body could do without. Moreover, the claim is out there that exercise is good for your mental state. I am not sure if I concur, but I am willing to give it a chance. If anything, right now as I try to get back into shape, I am so fatigued after my work out, I have little energy to stress about anything else!

As I observed the people around me, few of them struck me as vain. True, I work out at the YMCA, which is not your big-time workout freak magnet. It is a random mix of people of all ages and even nationalities. The were a couple that you might suspect of a little vanity - the young, short guy in the muscle shirt perhaps; or maybe the tall, sculpted woman in designer workout gear who jumped from one cardio machine to the other. The others just seemed people who wanted to get a little exercise.

There was one guy, perhaps in his fifties, wearing a tank-top and a backward Red Sox cap who was going psycho on the Nautilus machines. He would sit at one, count "One one thousand, two one thousand...", hyperventilate and then excert himself to exhaustion while shouting. He would then get up and yell at the machine...perhaps some insults? Not sure. Why he was there would be an interesting psycho-social research project.

I should point out that the area has cardio machinies and a Nautilus circuit. The free weights are in a different part of the building, so perhaps the people who are there for vanity reasons congregate there. I tend to content myself with the first area - there and the pool.

The pool seems to be used mostly by older people. Overweight and fairly hairy people (of which I can include myself!). It is hard for me to be more descriptive since I am without glasses and I cannot see much while I am there. I do have prescription goggles, but they don't work that well. They just help me avoid swimming into the side of the pool. The pool, however, is a bit of an ego boost because I tend to be one of the better swimmers - even though I am terribly out of shape. Not that I am an excellent swimmer. Way back when I used to swim a lot. I have retained some of the style if not the stamina.

I have saved the best for last - the locker room. I tend not to like locker rooms - I guess I am just a private person. This locker room is quite a cultural experience, though. There always seem to be old foreign people just hanging around there. Sounds of Russian, Hebrew, Chinese, and Yiddish float through the air. One time there were three old, fat, wet, and naked men sitting around drinking something from a thermos (vodka?) yaking in Russian. I never thought of a locker room as a community center for immigrant elderly, but apparently this one is just that. No vanity here, that is for sure.

And yes, I am very tired after a set of cardio, resistance, and swimming. Maybe I will go take a nap.

No comments: