Gym Dandy

Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six. Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six. Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six.

I grab my iPod, water bottle, and keys as I walk out the door.

Two five one five three six. Two five one five three six. Two five one five three six.

I only have to walk a block and a half, but it’s bitterly cold so I pull my hat down over my ears. I am now at the gym. I go to the gym now. I am now a gym-goer.

It’s intimidating, this new culture, particularly at my gym. My gym is a sanctuary for people who look even better when they sweat. The realm of the beautiful people with tight stomachs and muscular calves.

We have cucumber water in the locker room water coolers. Did you hear me? Cucumber water!

Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six. Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six. Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six.

While I normally would have shied away from this world, knowing it was not my own, the lure of rotisserie chicken and flat screen TV’s was too much. I rationalize: if they weren’t hunting for my species, why would they have set a trap just my size?

Each week that I successfully complete my workouts, I reward myself. Sometimes with Spongebob Squarepants stickers on my calendar, but mostly with disguises. A new black sports bra, fashionable capri sweatpants, a shatterproof indigo water bottle, my shiny new red lock. I try to blend in as best I can.

Two five one five three six. Two five one five three six. Two five one five three six.

There is a hierarchy, even on the machines. I break people down into six different categories:
A. Those who do not turn on the TV’s
B. Those who read books while on the machines
C. Those who read pop-culture magazines while on the machines
D. Those who watch the news or PBS
E. Those who watch network dramas or highly-acclaimed sitcoms
F. Those who watch trash

I will not even pretend that I fall into any category other than F, despite the fact that I did watch part of an A&E documentary on these two female boxers a couple weeks ago. However, while my innate tendency is to fall firmly in the trash category, I have acquired the chameleon-like ability to adapt to my surroundings, even if I remain a shade or two off from my neighbors.

One night, I was on the elliptical machines between CNN and a cooking show. I chose Oprah and went undetected. On another occasion, I was on the recumbent bikes flanked by an Economist reader and MSNBC. I had no choice but to watch Masterpiece Theatre. Frickin’ Brits. But once, one glorious morning, I stepped atop a treadmill and was bookended by MTV Road Rules and Laverne and Shirley. I felt neither remorse nor pain as I walk/jogged through almost an entire episode of Celebrity Fit Camp. It was heavenly.

Two five one five three six. Two five one five three six. Two five one five three six.

So tonight, I am writing this entry in my head while watching American Idol, which is challenging because I’m also trying desperately to remember the combination to my slick new red lock. Serious workout people carry bags to the gym with important things in them that need to be locked up, so I needed a serious lock. But I’m also afraid that I will forget the combination and have to ask the manager of the gym to get a bolt cutter to free my bag of important things, which really just happens to contain a Chapstick, a pack of gum, and wadded up newspapers to make it look full.

Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six. Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six. Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six.

I have seen all I can take of American Idol, so I sit down on the mat like that man just did and stretch my legs like that man just did. He is much more flexible than I am, but I don’t let this break my spirit. I just fill up my water bottle, twist my back a little like that woman just did, and walk down to the locker room.

Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six.

My shiny red lock does not open.

Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six.

I tug harder, but it still doesn’t budge. Perhaps I forgot to go past zero twice.

Twenty-five fifteen thirty-six.

Oh god. I can’t ask for a boltcutter. Should I just abandon my Chapstick? But suddenly I remember that I prepared for exactly this type of emergency. I take off my shoe, fish around for the now damp and blurry piece of paper, and let loose a deep sigh of relief.

Fifteen twenty-five thirty-six.

I grab my bag of important things, stuff my water bottle and iPod into it, and head back home.
Fifteen twenty-five thirty-six. Fifteen twenty-five thirty-six. Fifteen twenty-five thirty-six.

One five two five three six. One five two five three six. One five two five three six.

23 Responses to “Gym Dandy”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    This is GREAT! (Which came out GRETA jsut now befur I fixed it. Who’se shee?) Congrats on your gym going and don’t worry about all those people who need to sweat and seem smart. They’re all spying at your Celebrity Fit Camp screen out of the corner of their Economist eyes.

  2. hooizz Says:

    hahah funny you should post this… i started off my treadmill work out watching some ncaa basketball on espn.
    i thought that would impress upon the girl who was huffing and puffing next to me that i was a ‘mans man’.
    whatever that is.
    then when she left, i switched over to crossfire, to impress the businessman to my left that i was a thinker and well versed in the policies of modern day.
    then i just said eff it, and switched over to the bikin clad girls on fear factor.

  3. Dave2 Says:

    What flavor of gum?
    I haven’t had a stick of gum in a very long time. I used to love gum. Now I need to go buy me some gum! :-)

  4. Neil Says:

    Does cucumber add antioxidents to the water? Or is it just trendier than lemon?

  5. jenny Says:

    Greta: You’re so right – within minutes of me flipping on American Idol, the two people next to me switched over to it, too. I was a trendsetter!
    Hooizz: Fear Factor is a little too gross for me to watch while working out. Kind of like when I accidentally got sucked into watching the surgery channel while riding the recumbent bikes. I almost threw up on myself.
    Dave2: I always have gum – this time it was Dentyne Ice, blister pack. Stick with me – cucumber water, unlimited gum – we’ll live like kings!
    Neil: Well they told me at the gym that trendiness actually has cancer fighting properties, so I suppose I don’t even need anti-oxidants.

  6. The Scarlett Says:

    Now I’m wondering what you would do if on one side you had Project Runway 2 on Bravo and, on the other side, the “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld on TBS? Because I wouldn’t know what card to play with that combination.
    Wait, I just got that this was about combinations. D’oh!

  7. Tracy Lynn Says:

    BWAHAHAHAHA! You go to the gym, obviously, so that I don’t have to. Although, if there was a gym with rotisserie chicken in my area, I would very clearly have to rethink my position on the subject of gyms.
    Well done you for USING the membership. Most don’t get that far, you know.

  8. Jessica Says:

    15-25-36, huh? (scribbling it down)
    Can’t wait to get my hands on all that wadded up newspaper.

  9. Kevin Says:

    I remember the days of constant mental reminders of combinations. Funny thing is that there is one particular lock I have not used in years and, because of my constant attempts to remember the combo, I still do. Go fig… when you forget the combo, that’s when you need the lock; but when you remember the combo, there is absolutely no need for the lock whatsoever. That’s my luck.

  10. Sarah Says:

    Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.
    I do beg to differ on your little hierarchy of distractions…I think new or PBS definitely trumps pop culture mags.
    Back in my days at the Sweatshop on Broadway, there was a girl in front of me who had the most perfect body of all times, and the most totally legit “athlete’s” work out clothing that was, at the same time, very stylish and coordinated and cute. She was on the treadmill, running pretty damn fast, reading the NEW ENGLAND MF-ING JOURNAL OF MEDICENE.
    I wanted to trip her so badly, but I don’t know if you can trip someone on a treadmill.

  11. romy Says:

    that’s “HEH” at three times the syllables. ;)
    and sarah’s comment made me choke on my coffee. thank goodness there are perfect people in the world (like that beautiful creature on the treadmill), otherwise where would i direct my annoyance?

  12. jenny Says:

    Scarlett: I think the best option would be America’s Next Top Model, although, I always think that ANTM is the best option…
    Tracy Lynn: Seriously – the combination of rotisserie chicken and TV? A true winner.
    Jess: Uh… did I say 15-25-36? I meant 26-35-15. Oh crap, now I’m really gonna forget it!
    Kevin: I fear that someday I may forget how to control my bladder because that part of my brain is being cluttered with old high school locker combinations and phone numbers.
    Sarah: You raise an interesting point. I can see where news takes precedence over Us Weekly, but I was going on the assumption that reading is more difficult than listening/watching. There are definitely many nuances to this hierarchy – soon I will learn them all. I mean, people who are actually studying on a treadmill? That’s the worst of all – they’re all, “Look at me! Look at me! I’m stronger than you in both body and mind!” Why don’t they just pray while they’re on the machines, too, and bring home the trifecta?
    Romy: Ain’t it the truth? But we must not trip people on treadmills, no matter how much we want to. We are better than that. Or just ascared of getting beat up.

  13. The Scarlett Says:

    Jenny, I think you have something about the bladder control/locker combination correlation (the BC/LCC). Perhaps this is why celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Fergie Whats-her-name from the Black Eyed Peas have trouble making it to the little girls’ room. Lock combinations! High school phone numbers! And, worst of all, sit-com theme songs!!! It is BC/LCC syndrome! (Soon to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine so that Miss Smarty Pants Treadmill studier can read about it.)

  14. jaymarie Says:

    jen –
    oh, i have missed you, you funny funny girl.
    happy to be back in your world!

  15. steph Says:

    would you believe that i spent an extra 10 minutes on a treadmill the other day simply so i could finish watching MTV’s “Next”? (hangs head in shame)

  16. allison Says:

    I shamelessly watch a VH1 America’s Next Top Model Marathon or E’s 101 Hottest Celebrity Bodies on the treadmill. Why? MOTIVATION.

  17. Alissa Says:

    The gym totally freaks me out. It took me a while to even get used to my yoga studio. I’ve been laughed at for my degree of flexibility (or lack of) and yet I choose yoga as my work out of choice? I’m in awe of your courage!

  18. ashbloem Says:

    At my gym they have sliced cucumbers for your eyes in the steam room. But they always just make me hungry.

  19. shari Says:

    Wow. I had no idea that going to the gym depended on knowing your locker combo. Thank gawd you’ve posted it!! And can I slice and bring my own cucumbers? Sign me,
    Gym Gyminee, Gym Gyminee, Gym – Gym Sha-ri

  20. nina Says:

    If people around me were phony-watching intelligent programing, I would BE SURE to flip to trash. Or at least Martha Stewart. Or is that trash?
    I never lock anything around me: lockers, cars, apartments — forget it. I know one day I’ll pay, but think of all the trees I will have saved by not using keys. (?!)

  21. Ryan Says:

    There was a time when I didn’t have cable and I would go to the gym just so I could watch TV. It was more fun than you could believe! One night I remember that I had planned to watch Big Brother. Oh yeah. So, I was gonna do an hour on the treadmill, which I knew was gonna kick my ass. But, Big Brother was actually an hour and a half, so I had to spend an additional 30 minutes in hell, just so I could get my trash reality tv fix.

  22. asia Says:

    But what about the rotisserie chicken? Is it any good? Have you had it yet?

  23. judypatooote Says:

    You are so funny! Thanks for making my day……