At first, it was just supposed to be running.
Things rarely go as such, and only a couple of weeks in, a colleague at work suggested starting working out in a gym.
Maybe it was the high and addled mind of someone recently starting out on an active life-style; maybe it was a latent death wish. Either way, I said yes.
I had a really hard time seeing myself in the gym, though. It was something all the cool kids were doing. I hadn't thought that hard about it till recently; but deep down inside I always felt I'd feel like an outsider – someone who didn't belong there and was intruding on their playground. This in itself is highly ironic, considering the sole purpose of gyms is to welcome people like me.
|After a month, I now understand this. I'm such a nerd.|
The second concern was one of practicality. This was unknown territory for me. I knew nothing. I mean; absolutely-Jon-Snow-oblivious-blank-nothing about what you were supposed to do with those infernal machines. Usually, when passing by there, I'd always try and stare at bouncy boobs or someone's ass, thinking myself lucky for avoiding such torment.
And now, I was about to become one of these unfortunate souls.
At this time of writing, I've been there for a month. I thought it proper to share some of my impressions.
First things first; the pains and the bro's
My first journey to the gym known as Fitness World was one of amazement, wonder and ludicrous pain.
I'll have to admit; it IS dangerous to go alone, and having someone along who knew the place was a big help. I'm certain I would've gotten lost pretty quickly; mostly because everything, at first, is a blur of mangled, black metal, rugged floors and mirrors.
There is a certain feeling that spreads inside your body, when you realize that you must be the most unfit person in the entire building. It's tragicomic, in a way. I'd hoped my running beforehand would at least give me an edge, but judging from my first 15 minutes of waiting outside, I quickly concluded I was going to set the low bar. Which is fine, since it only goes up from there.
The staff was nice and though it's their job, I was pleasantly surprised and well received. I've gone for a membership that requires me to be present with the other guy I'm training with.
Most of our training has been focusing on the building of muscles on the arms and shoulder+chest, which is classic and well. Legs and hips have been in for a fair share of work as well, and during my first visit, I was somewhat surprised I felt so little pain. So I went home, after an hour, and all was well.
So let me share a little secret with you.
Shit gets real the following morning.
As in, concrete, bat-shit insanely real, if you're like me and this is all new to you.
And it just keeps growing. Though I went to take painkillers, the entire Monday, I was more or less handicapped and unable to use my arms for anything. I thought Tuesday would be better at least, but...it was actually worse.
It was four.fucking.days.till I felt the arms working again. I stretched for ages and nothing happened except more pain. This is the stuff that not only makes you cringe, you also seriously start questioning your previously chosen life-style. Realizing how weak and untrained your body has been for so long is scary to say the least.
On the good side, once this was over, the second and third visits were much, much easier.
Remembering to stretch properly when done likely helped too. Don't ask me how I manned up to go again after that pain-ride. Fuck me if I know.
|Initial reaction, when your friend asks whether you're up for a second go.|
Second of all, who are these people?
Through psychological studies whenever I had a few moments to breathe; I managed to do some observations regarding the types of individuals who frequent the place. I suppose I wasn't surprised to find archetypes in such a place, yet I was amazed at how many there were from various groups.
A) The “I'm just here to make the rest of you feel like shit”
These men are walking mountains. To the point that I expect them to punch out my teeth and gouge my eyes out a moment later. But we're all safe, because they really are mountains in many respect. They're build like powerhouses, with muscles in about every place that muscles can possibly be, and they look darn impressive (especially to n00bs like me) – yet there's a peculiar pattern the differentiates them from their fellow Stronginthearms; They don't really do much, except standing around, lifting a little bit now and then, but nothing that seems to stress them out the least.
|I have no idea who these guys are, btw.|
They're kind of like the top-end raiding guild players that just used to stand around in Iron Forge, back when people wouldn't wank it out in their garrisons, and not answer whispers. They don't seem to build or train anything while there, except for something that barely seems to put a strain on them. I don't know if they're training elsewhere and just come down to...stand around... but they sure do motivate you and think 'I can do that.....some time....'
B) The “What the fuck's the point?”
If the former were hardcore raiders, these guys are Dwayne from Day of the Tentacle (seriously, if you got this reference I'm making you breakfast) – These guys/girls just appear out of nowhere, likely sitting at some machine that you were going to use, and they just stare. At first, I confused them for those just being there to gawk at women and their ass (and call me a sexist pig if you please; there is a lot of very, very fine ass in a gym) – but, I've often tried following their stare. It's mostly into a wall or at something I can not see. Some times they just stare into a mirror, which kind of frightens me a bit.
I imagine it's some kind of despair. Or an off-day. Or something else entirely. But there sure are a lot of them. From close observation, some will eventually start doing something; others will disappear into thin air the second you look away.
I'm aware this entry makes me sound like a schizophrenia. Don't worry, I'll have more to say later. For now, I just want to go over there and give them a hug.
C) The “OH FUCK MY HEALTHBAR IS RED, YES!”
Going to the gym is about pushing yourself, I'm aware of that much. I've done my share of pushing during the first month. But these guys surely take it to the next level. At first, I kind of wanted to ask them whether they needed any help or something, because they would usually pound away, relentlessly, at whatever they were doing. And most of their features indicated that they were in pain.
I suppose I ought to call them 'Pures' or something; since this is likely the cardinal archetype of people in a gym. They seem to put everything they've got into it; going that tiny-little-bit-extra-of-distance in order to reach their goal. I aspire to be able to do that one day. I'm still at the point where my brain screams yes but my body says “Fuck this shit!”
D) The “Robocops” aka “Inspector Gadgets”
I'm aware of the hypocrisy of this one. After all, I'm here on the internet writing about it. So I'll have to point out, I've nothing against any of these groups; they just poke my interest in many ways. There aren't many in group D, but I've noticed a few. Some of them have like, three gadgets, attached to themselves while everything is going on. Me, I usually carry along my MP3-player when running, but this seems really interesting. I've been told it has something to do with measuring your pulse or something like that.
I'll have to ask them about that.
E) The “I think I can, I know I can!”
This is me. Will be for a long time. There sadly aren't many like me down there. We're the ones who're likely in the most vulnerable position and we're there to make everyone else look good most of the time. We're the ones who're boiling red in the face, as we struggle with weight-lifting just the 20 kilos bar (I just left this zone today, huzzah!) and it feels like everyone else is just staring.
The amount I've met from this group, I can count on two hands so far. Either they don't show up when I do, or they train somewhere else. But we share a very special bond. One time, when training with hand-weights, I walked past a woman who was struggling greatly with the same weight I used a couple of weeks earlier. I remember meeting her gaze and nodding slightly, and she the same. Because we know; we still have that slightly lost and confused look in our eyes. The one that makes it even more important for us to come back, and make our failures better.
And the common thing for all of these people?
They've been so very kind to me, whether deliberate or not. They've been awesome at making me feel at home right there, and made me glad to come back. And I'm thankful for being part of it.