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health club etiquette and other stuff
by robert a. melos
pop culture

I workout at a local health club named for a large west coast city associated with glamorous and often shallow people. This is not to say that the people who frequent said health club are glamorous or, well, they aren't glamorous. Now I'm an average 46 year-old man, not some buff gym daddy or muscle geek, who is trying to maintain an average 46 year-old body. I'm not hopelessly chasing some elusive 25 year-old physique. Well I am, but that's for a column on dating 25 year-olds.

I don't spend hours at the gym. In fact, I spend roughly about one hour total about four times a week crunching my stomach, pumping my pecs, stretching my glutes, and about 15 minutes in the sauna taking in the heat and enjoying the amazing warmth before hitting the showers.

This isn't my first foray into the world of health clubs. In the 1980s I belonged to a local health and racquetball club, and faithfully showed up every evening to sort of lift weights, and mostly sit in the hot tub and then the steam room. I loved the steam room. It was so, steamy. I then joined another health club in the early part of this century after being away from the gym scene for many years.

I'm the type of person who needs to go to a specific place to workout. I tried working out at home, doing those annoying video nee DVD exercises rockin' with the oldies, tae-bo-ing, getting my tai chi on, and always failing miserably because I'm easily distracted by shiny objects and easy access to the cheesecake in my refrigerator. Going to a gym offers me the focus I need to workout without the distractions of television, telephones, the need to do laundry or vacuum, or some other annoying household chore I can put off with the simple excuse that I'm at the gym and not home to do them.

Now if you're going to a health club I do feel there are certain etiquettes that should be observed, and I try to observe them, however; you will often run into the ignorant and/or selfish people who do not observe the common rules of courtesy to your fellow human being.

One thing my gym offers is a disinfectant spray at several locations around the building to spray down the hand grips and clean the aerobic machines before you use them. This is sort of a good thing. Sort of. It would really be a good thing if I hadn't seen the cleaning crew filling the bottles with water at the sink in the locker room.

If the machine has been be sanitized to your satisfaction it really isn't polite to park your fat gluteus maximus on the aerobic machine and proceed to talk on your cell phone for an hour tying up the machine and ignoring anyone who taps you on the shoulder and suggests you move so others may engage in their workout routine.

Some of my biggest gym pet peeves concern the locker room. Now I'm not a prude, and have no problem with nudity in a locker room situation, but some guys should never be seen naked; ever. I know you're the walrus, um, I mean that you're there to workout and get back into shape, but until you look more like a human being and less like a Dr. Seuss character on steroids could you please keep your clothes on?

Now to the sauna. I. Love. Sauna. Perhaps it is my love of warmth that attracts me to a sauna or a steam room like a political pundit to a Sarah Palin event. And I don't object to some talk in the sauna. I guess I get annoyed by the popes of the sauna who sit in there pontificating on how the world should run, and how much better it would be if they were running it. This is usually what brings to my mind the fantasies of saunacide.

Saunacide is the fantasy of killing your more annoying fellow human beings while they spew their ignorance for the world to hear. I'm in the sauna to warm up, maybe nod to a guy or two and exchange one of those pleasantry smiles and a friendly "hows it going?". I try not to engage these types in conversation, bite my tongue as they sit in there telling me how the rich are entitled to their money because they earned it. The last time this happened I couldn't resist the urge to say two words: "Paris Hilton". This led to my fantasy of whipping out a .357 magnum and flat blasting him. I guess I had the gun concealed under my towel.

After the sauna my biggest pet peeve is peeing in the shower. I know the Brazilian government urged its citizens to pee in the shower as a way of conserving water, but I really don't need to see the walrus at the next showerhead urinating while washing his hair. Guys! Please! Have some common sense. I don't care what you do in the shower at home.

If you're going to pee in the shower I'm going to continue to sing Partridge Family hits and the Village People's Y.M.C.A. at the top of my lungs. Sure I'm off key, but at least I look good with the water running off my average slightly toned body as I belt out "Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque". I will refrain from singing "I Think I Love You" around out of shape naked men, but that's just my own personal rule.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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