Rant: Joining a gym (why would you?)

Simon Burdus 31 January 2008

When I was showering this week it finally hit me. I was lathering my arms and chest and I looked down. It was huge. Some have called it horrific. It has even been said that it is too big for my own good.

Yes, where a six pack once lived a beer belly is forming. My stomach is expanding. I decided to take immediate action and joined a gym. What was I thinking? Never mind Belinda Carlisle singing about heaven being a place on Earth, I’ve found hell and it most definitely contains a treadmill.

On my first visit I was given a tour of the gym by a intimidating lady, who I’m confident could crack monkey-nuts between her butt cheeks. Although slightly aroused, I was perturbed by her presence. She introduced me to the machines and made me feel wholly inadequate by out-performing me in every workout.

Humiliated, I went to the changing area to put on my new gear. Now, I’m no prude. Anyone at a certain rugby match in Girton in 2006 will tell you that I’m not afraid to put everything on show. But for some reason I just can’t do it in the locker room. I look round and feel ill at ease. Why is it that horrible bald fat men suddenly think that just because they are in a room with other men, this gives them the god given right to lob it out, swing it around, bend over and generally become a deviant exhibitionist for a few minutes.

After escaping the dangly nightmare that was the changing room, I headed to the gym. It wasn’t even remotely obvious what any of the machines do. I settled on the bike, it was the only one I had any idea how to use.

I soon realised that I was out of my depth, but I had to carry on cycling as there was no way I could go over and move the weight machine’s setting down and be laughed out of the gym I’d just paid so much to join. I kept going for about 30 minutes, as the Rocky theme tune belted out from the biggest sound system in the world.

Eventually I stopped and got up, but really struggled to walk; my legs turned to jelly so had to sit down and arrived at a machine called a “pec curler”. I swallowed my pride as I moved the weights down and did five reps. I opened my eyes to see Mr Muscle doing the exact same exercise on the highest level and doing 10 reps a time—he certainly did love the jobs I hate. I got up and sheepishly made my way out of the machine room.

Ultimately, I’ve paid to go to hell. I’m now a member of hell and I have a card to prove it. My bulge is still growing but at least now I can go to hell twice a week and sit in the Jacuzzi to relax. I’m not worrying any more—I’ll just accept it. I might die at 55 but at least I won’t have spent my time cycling and not getting anywhere. The good news however, is that my gym is getting a new machine this week that I can definitely use. Yes, after my Jacuzzi there will soon be a vending machine in which I can spend even more money.

Simon Burdus