Are you thinking of joining a gym? Are you a member of a gym but never bother going? Or are you, like me, quite enamoured by the idea of the gym, but completely disillusioned by the reality?
Forget the fact that physical activity in practice is not a Rocky montage, and unfortunately does actually take up loads of time and make your chest feel like someone’s fannied about in there with a ream of sandpaper. Leave the actual exercise at the door, friends.
We’re here to talk about the gym wankers.
The people that make you think that, actually, it may well be worth selling all of your christening jewellery (and perhaps a few of your dead grandmother’s rings) so that you can buy a treadmill. The people that make you wish for the apocalypse, or a plague, so that almost everybody will cease to exist, until you remember that gym wankers are the pinnacle of human strength and you would undoubtedly be the first to fall.
1. Speedy Gonzalez
Speedy has no time for your nonsense. Speedy, apparently, has no time for anything. He’s pounding that treadmill like he’s got some deeply buried emotional trauma he’s trying to run away from. The noise of it is possibly the most distracting thing on the planet: a shrill whirring perfectly matched with his relentless stomping, and the whip, whip, whip of his arms pumping full-pelt. Speedy makes you feel like shit as you jog along quietly, and then hammers the stop button with his fist and leans against the front of the machine as though he’s about to cry.
2. Grunty McGee
Is it a mating call? An unfortunate side-effect of body-fat deficiency? Nobody knows. This guy just can’t seem to keep his mouth shut. There you are, at the innocent time of 7 a.m. on a Monday morning, trying to motivate yourself to step onto the cross-trainer to the soundtrack of a thousand horny wildebeest. Grunty lifts his weight, and the small nose he emits could be forgiven; we’re all human. But then he drops it, as though it’s on fire, and the clang of metal against the floor is melodically accompanied by an ‘ARGH’ that makes you frantically wonder whether you should call an ambulance or the public indecency police.
3. Basic Bella
Bella is not here to exercise. We should get that fact established right at the start. For Bella, the gym is the perfect Insta shoot location. She’s got the outfit, the hair and the unfathomable baseball cap; now all she needs is the mirror you’re trying to use to smooth your eyebrow hairs down before work. She loves that mirror. The mirror is so important to her, it begs the question of whether she has any of her own at home. You consider telling Bella that the £20 a month she spends on her membership could buy countless mirrors on Amazon, but she is not free for small talk. She will pout and pose and snap away until she has the perfect shot to show social media how effective her latest facial was at disabling her sweat glands.
4. PT Paul
We’ve all got to make a living, I do understand this, but Personal Trainer Paul is really giving it his all. He slinks around the gym until he finds the perfect corner from which to observe you. From there, he will silently critique your technique, his eyes boring into you, picking apart every movement until he has his sales pitch perfected. He waits patiently until he spots a lull in your rhythm, and then pounces, appearing by your side at lightning speed. He pulls out his ace of spades and loudly offers to correct all of your hideous, arthritis accelerating mistakes, for only £50 an hour three times a week.
5. Mixing-it-up Mike
Mike doesn’t follow the rules. Mike was the kid at school who turned his chair around and straddled it, leaning his chin against the backrest. Mike was cool back then, but Mike hasn’t moved on, and is now an utter twat. When he joined the gym, Mike nodded nonchalantly through his induction and studied the machine instruction stickers with half-arsed abandon, all the while wondering how he, the master of innovation, could utilise these contraptions in a way no man had ever attempted before. In the middle of your rowing session, you spot mike in the mirror, head-butting the leg-press. It strengthens his neck muscles, and the sense of satisfaction he gets from being so much cleverer than those silly inventors and their narrow-minded ways is well worth the headache.
My blood pressure has risen beyond a normal level just writing this, but I assure you, I will not start grunting. Unfortunately, other people do exist, and unless you’re Richard Branson, you’re going to have to pay to interact with them in public places. Be it the airport, the cinema or the golf course, they’re everywhere; like an uncontrollable infestation of tossers.
My only advice for escaping the gym with your sanity intact is this: take headphones, a compact mirror and a blindfold. Or just don’t bother. You know you’ll only stick it out for a couple of weeks, anyway.