Monday, May 18, 2009

The Guys At The Gym

The gym I go to in the little village just over the border, in New York, is clean, quiet and, on weekday mornings when I am there, mostly empty. There is a men's exercise room, where the weight machines are upholstered in blue, and a women's exercise room, where the machines are upholstered in red.

There are a couple of machines in the women's room that are not in the men's—a stationary bike and a stretching machine—so men will come in and use those. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, I'll see a woman exercising in the men's room.

While I'm working out, I watch some impressively athletic women go through their routines. They run on the treadmill for what seems like hours. They lift heavy weights. They sweat and they pant. But they are silent. Not a moan or a groan or a grunt escapes from their lips. They are discreet about their strength, and so the women's exercise room is almost silent, like a shrine. I like that a lot.

But last week two guys showed up and shattered the devotional atmosphere. I don't know why they came to use our weight machines, since the men's room was practically empty. But there they were, two balding guys in shorts, spotting for each other, egging each other on, cheering, laughing and guffawing so their voices bounced off the walls and the whole room seemed to shake. And the groans! The moans! You'd think they were being torn apart by hooks. You'd think they were lifting elephants, the way they carried on.

No sooner had one finished a set than, after appropriate rejoicings and high-fives, he would swap places with his buddy, and the groaning and grunting and exclaiming would begin all over again.

These were not teenage boys, surfing on a testosterone tide, but men in their fifties. Why were they making all that noise? Were they showing off for each other? For us? For their absent mothers?

And why was I so furious at them? Why did I want to yell at them to shut their stupid mouths and go back to the men's room, or, better yet, leave the gym? Why did I begrudge them the joy of behaving like five-year-olds at the playground (watch ME, Mom!)?

I have no idea. But I get annoyed all over again, just thinking about it.

8 comments :

  1. I don't go to a gym, but I see that here in our house. My daughter and I are often alone in the house when the guys (middle-aged husband and teen-aged son) are doing their own things. It is quiet. We talk in low voices to each other. We read or use the Internet or watch a movie or television program all the way through. When we move from one room to another we do it silently.

    When the guys get home there is shouting, banging of doors or dishes or pots and pans. There are loud footsteps on the stairs. They wrestle each other, the cats and us if we get in the way. They steal the remote control and watch loud programs for 5 minutes, then move on to another loud program and then another.

    It is annoying, I agree!

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  2. There's a new women-only gym that's opened near my house. I'm tempted...

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  3. My gym has a rule against grunting!

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  4. Dona, having grown up with a sister, gone to girls' schools, and given birth to two girls, I guess I haven't had the opportunity to adjust to male joie de vivre.

    Bridgett, that sounds ideal!

    Alison, what?? How is this rule stated? Is it observed? Any other weird rules?

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  5. I'm so glad I missed this incident.

    I have gone over to the men's side a couple of times. Once, when I wanted to bike and couldn't get on the women's (and the guys have at least two). Another time to use a piece of equipment the chicks don't have.

    I was just there this afternoon, in the off hours...

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  6. In fact, I have been there twice when those guys were also there. The first time they stayed in the men's side, but they made an even bigger racket, since there were three of them.

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  7. When you sign up for membership at our gym, you sign a bunch of paperwork, and if you're a careful reader (I'm certain Kathy & I are the first two people to read it in the history of the gym) you'll see the injunction against grunting, between the instructions on how to wipe the machines down and the rule against dropping the weights on the floor. It's just stated as something that's distracting to other patrons. It is mostly observed, but there are, of course, a couple guys who both clang the weights AND grunt. I try to channel my righteous indignation into faster stair-stepping...

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  8. I channeled my righteous indignation into more reps and heavier weights, and was in BAD shape for two days. I'll have to work on the indignation.

    I may suggest a no-grunting policy to the management if those guys keep showing up.

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