Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last Sunday

There were some strange people at the gym on Sunday.

The Amster and I can usually count on welcoming smiles from the regulars as we lift and grunt and sweat and lift again. We've been at it together for almost two years, now, and it just keeps getting better. Not that we keep getting better. Like everyone else who's ever exercised on a regular basis, occasionally we have been derailed by life. But we're still having fun, with her Army mojo and me quoting Arnold between sets.

Most gyms have a demographic - 20-somethings on the prowl gyms, women who want to show their exercising selves only to other women gyms, 50+ retired Yuppies and their much younger trainers' gyms, serious 'roid gyms. Our gym defies categorization.

Tattoos are everywhere, and TBG and I were taken aback at first. Body art's not our thing (just ask my nieces) and we were about ready to dismiss the wearers. That is, until TBG watched the most heavily decorated young man gently and kindly demonstrate then teach a teetering older man how to use the cables.

There are 30-somethings who certainly looked healthy enough to be at work instead of lifting weights in the middle of the day. The Amster and I were commenting on this one December afternoon and the guy on the next bench leaned over and said, "Most of us have been laid off; I recognize half-a-dozen guys who should be working today."

Lots of fire department t-shirts are on lots of very buff bodies. High school wrestlers and basketball players and track stars wear t-shirts proclaiming their loyalty and superiority. Candidates for The Biggest Loser gamely breathe and roll and concentrate on their transverse abdominals between sorority girls from the UofA on one side and 78 year old grandmothers on the other. Ballroom dancers practice while 8 year olds shoot hoops with their moms.

No one judges. No one smirks. No one cares that the gym shorts I'm wearing were worn by the Big Cuter when he was in 5th grade or that my Sausalito Art Festival t-shirt is held together by a few tenuous strands of cotton.

We notice things, of course. There's the guy with what must be the world's largest collection of Jesus-themed t-shirts, the grey pony-tailed retired contractor who is invariably decked out in red/white/and blue to match the flag flying from his truck, the Haitian woman who can do 20 perfect pull-ups. The father-son pairs are our favorites; the boys are lucky to learn from men who are less interested in impressing one another than they are in using good form. For a while last spring and summer there was a dad and his daughter; we miss them.

So, Sunday. The first weird person was race walking around the gym, hitting himself in the chest with a 5 pound plate. Leaning on a pole in the middle of the gym floor, the second weird person was swinging a 10 pound dumbbell around and around in what looked like but couldn't possibly be ever widening circles. A trainer had a this-is-my-first-time-in-the-gym client doing one-handed push-ups with her feet on a giant ball. The juice bar was closed and the lights were off but there was someone sitting on the stool at the counter looking into the darkness.

And it wasn't a full moon.

"I loved the feeling of the gym, of working out, of having muscles all over" Aaaah-nold in Education of a Bodybuilder

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