My gym is a zoo. One of those old school zoos where animals were kept in terrible small cages just so we could rubberneck them as they went insane and ate their own limbs.
My gym does not look like that from the outside. It’s all nice and modern, and chucks up pictures of its elderly members on the walls to give it that cuddly Retirement Home vibe. But that is a façade Potemkin himself would have envied.
At its core it is a building wherein bizarre shitfuckery occurs. Just like an old school zoo.
I am not being harsh. I know my gyms. I have trained at superb facilities over the years. My favourite was Rileys Gym in Seven Hills. When I was there it played Gangster Rap at Volume 12, and beef-laden monsters would lumber around and heave gargantuan lumps of metal into the air, drop them clanking and thudding to the ground, and give harsh voice to the pain they were in as they triumphed over The Iron.
It was an inspirational place to train. Any place with dust-free 150kg dumbbells that have skin ground into the knurling, is inspirational. And when your gym has a personally signed ten-times life-size mural of Ronnie Coleman on the main wall, you know it’s for real. “Light weight, baby!”
My local gym has nothing like that. But it does have some interesting members. Let me introduce them to you…
I am convinced this one doesn’t have a roof in his mouth. I am also convinced he’s not a soldier. The Infantry School on the edge of town has its own gym, and the squaddies aren’t allowed off the base all that often. But I think he thinks he’s a soldier. He has a tactical camo back-pack, and favours T-shirts with military logos on them, though I think most of them are from video games like Call Of Duty. I see him jogging around the inside of the gym, back-pack on, and carrying a 10kg plate in one hand like it’s a rifle. Sometimes he carries the plate at port-arms. The inside of the gym is not actually set up as a jogging track, so there’s a good chance he’ll shin himself on one of the cardio machines and end up a cripple. This will make me happy.
The gym, for reasons entirely unknown to its lawyers, has decided to expand the membership by allowing children from the age of 14 to address The Iron. Soon, one of them will die or be maimed, and the gym will come to its senses. I have personally rescued one such child who felt he could bench 40kg immediately after failing to bench 30kg. The bar ended up on his chest and he was turning purple when I rendered assistance. He was crying so he couldn’t thank me as much as he obviously wanted to.
There are about eight of them. They all play football. I can tell by the jerseys. They are all skinny bitches with twig-like legs. They spend most of their time gathered around the benchpress, attempting to lift things that are heavier than their mothers. After they fail, they admire themselves in the mirrors. They also do a lot of curls. Because those get the girls they read on the Internet. They have no technique, and no program, and I know they will soon get bored or crippled and leave.
I have been inside many saunas in many countries. I consider saunas to be a superb and healthful thing to do. Heating one’s tortured, iron-beaten body, so it feels like you’re being flayed with lava-ropes is really superb.
I like to be in saunas by myself, so I pour water on the hot rocks which immediately sends waves of scalding air through thr sauna. That’s when people leave. But not everyone. The other day I saw a unique thing I have never before seen in a sauna.
A squat planet-shaped woman, dressed in a long-sleeved top and yoga pants with some Nike slides on her sausage-like feet, was in the sauna. She had clearly eaten all her family’s ham and cheese, and possibly her family as well. Sweat was sheeting from her in very impressive amounts. It pooled on the ground near her swollen feet. She was like leaking swamp – such was the moisture coming off her.
I poured water on the rocks seeking to chase her from the sauna with waves of super-heated air. It made no difference. She remained sitting and ooze-gushing sweat. She also had a phone she was scrolling through. How she and the phone did not die in the 20 minutes I managed to sit there is a mystery.
THE SAUNA TRAINER
I run into this bloke about once a week in the sauna. He uses it to train in. Well, he did, until I asked him not to do that because I derived no enjoyment from being splashed with his sweat. Before we had that conversation, he would jog on the spot, do deep knee-bends, sit-ups, and resistance sets using those fat rubber bands people who are to scared to pick up weights use.
I held fond hopes he would have a vicious heart-attack and die in the sauna. I would casually finish my sweating, then I would leave, and he could remain lying there turning blue and cooking. I wouldn’t even tell anyone. But that is unlikely to happen in my presence since we had the conversation.
“Oh. It’s the best thing for you. I got the program off the personal trainer who trains the Hollywood stars.”
“Your sweat splashes me. I’m not OK with that. It needs to stop.”
“You do what you want when I’m not in here. You stop doing it when I’m in here and sit quietly. You carry on doing Hollywood when I leave.”
“Oh. OK. Sorry.”
Lifting weights is serious business. They are heavy. If you drop them on yourself you will get hurt. Everyone knows that, and the incentive is great to not drop them.
But they are heavy, and it’s wise to rest between sets on heavy days. I usually abide quietly for maybe a minute or so after a big set. Primarily to check I’m still alive and my tendons haven’t been torn.
But there’s this one guy who rests five minutes between sets. I know it’s five minutes because I have timed him. Five whole minutes. Five minutes is forever in the gym. Hell, five minutes is a long time in almost everything interesting I do.
Five minutes between sets? That is unheard of. Even the pros don’t rest that long between deadlifting 500kg. And this bloke is not lifting anything like that. He’s actually rather weak. It must be the rest periods. Think how much weight he could lift if he stopped resting! Volume, bitch! Time under load!
He actually makes me a little insane and I want to throw a dumbbell at him. A light one. Maybe three kgs. Just to wake him up some.
They’re fucking animals. The lot of them.
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Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.