Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“The Breakfast Club,” A Microcosm of My Gym

I fondly remember the 80’s classic film “The Breakfast Club,” I even remember watching it and thinking how it was “right on.” I described it as “ahead of its time,” and “deep.” Obviously these words were spoken before I had much exposure to life. High school is a giant fish bowl what can I say?

For those of you unfamiliar with this fantastic flick, a brief synopsis to bring you up to speed. Five students from different high school cliques are forced to spend one Saturday detention with one another. In their own way they explore their preconceived notions and realize that they have more in common than meets the eye.

As I matured, I realized that “The Breakfast Club” thematically was correct. You cannot compartmentalize people into neat little groups. People are complex creatures offering a wide range of emotional depth as well as intellect and talent. Sure folks have an image they portray but underneath that exterior is multi-dimensional person right? I still believe this is true, everywhere except the gym, a strange world that seems to encourage people to live up to their stereotypes. Just like high school. The movie focused on an individual from one of the five following cliques: athletes, princesses, basket cases, criminals and brains. I have used the same terms to outline some of the noticeable groups at my gym.

Athletes aka Jocks – Everyone has some of these folks at their gym. Typically male, although more women are joining this highly vascular scene. You can hear them a mile away cheering each other on with ridiculous sayings while spotting a buddy. Often their words really don’t make sense. Some of my favorites; “Come on buddy you gotta show those weights who’s boss.” “Dude own it, own it man, don’t take no for an answer.” “Don’t think just lift Champ.” For all of their rippling muscles most have a very difficult time setting weights down gently, instead they drop them letting them crash to the floor. If they are not actually in the weight room they are standing around the juice bar swapping stories about protein shakes and caloric input / output. Often they can be seen flexing in front of one of the many mirrors. They make sure the weight room is always blasting 80’s power ballads, which they keep the beat to using primitive grunts. (I have taken to roaring like a lion when I lift because it really throws them off their game.) Once I was in the ladies locker room and was convinced someone was giving birth in the weight room. The noise was identical to that of a woman in labor. I listened a little harder and was relieved to hear “Rock You Like a Hurricane” with a man obscenely yelling “Kick some ass sea bass.” No one giving birth just blasting the ole guns. 

Princesses – These gals spend most of their time in the cardio room doing their best to not get sweaty while looking like they are doing their best to get sweaty. Their stylish outfits shine in hot pinks and bright blues, and are always tight while showing some of their flawless, taunt skin. And why not? They have perfect bodies, perfect hair and perfectly white bright smiles.They are the women who apply makeup before they work out. They look better at the gym than I do on date night. I picture the princesses scrubbing toilets in dirty sweat pants with cakey orange makeup. I know it’s mean but it makes me feel better, so I don’t want to hear it. Oh how these perfect, pink, princesses prance in front of me causing self confidence shake downs and flashes of envy. They flip through Cosmo or In-Style while mindlessly climbing stairs or skipping along on the elliptical. Their nail polished isn’t even chipped! Do they float through life in a bubble? It is not as simple as they look great, it is that they look great effortlessly. I know this is a lie, a facade, a non truth that they conjured and I believe. But how the heck do they do it? What’s the secret, the esoteric black magic of the trophy wife princess.

Criminals – I’m taking some liberties with this label but I feel it is the most fitting given the options. The term criminal applies to anyone guilty of bad gym etiquette! Sweat all over your machine and not wipe it down when you are finished? Criminal! Are you a man who wears short shorts and lets it all hang while doing squats? Criminal! That lady who sits in the ladies locker room completely naked while painting her toe nails and trying to strike up friendly conversation with me? Criminal! Leaving extremely heavy weights on bars so it takes me forever to move them? Criminal! You know the type, inconsiderate, annoying and unfortunately all too common!

Basket Case – These people normally have a personal trainer. They apparently believe that they are paying the trainer to work out and get in shape for them because I often hear them grumbling about actually doing the work. They try and use conversation to avoid working out, thus still feeling good about themselves because they went to the gym! They think because they have a trainer they will be in shape in no time! Reality check, they will spend extra cash and see limited results because deep down they don’t want to work out, they want to pay someone to do it for them. Listen working out stinks, that horrible burny feeling in your lungs that says your chest is about to explode? It stinks. The pain in your butt and thighs from the evil treadmill? It stinks! But you know what? That means your body is changing! I think the term is “feel the burn.” I listen to some of these basket cases complaining that they don’t want to do another set, or don’t want to go up another level on the elliptical! The whole purpose of hiring a trainer it to push you harder than you will push yourself. Trainers keep you on track, give you pep talks and make you answer to someone. True accountability which is a really awesome thing! You don’t need to kill it every time you go to the gym, but don’t fake it and then have the audacity to bitch about your trainer who is trying to motivate you to actually work out.

Brains- These people are nuts. I mean they are the real crazies. These are the folks who don’t run marathons because they are no longer a challenge. They are in training, for everything, all of the time. They train for biathlons, triathlons, Iron Man Competitions, the eco challenge, setting a new record for the Appalachian trail, scaling Everest, blindfolded long distance speed skating. Ok I made that last one up but you get the point. They use gizmos to make their work outs more difficult because a fully stocked gym doesn’t offer enough options. They run on the treadmills wearing high elevation masks and weight vests. They rig the TRX system is ways the defy gravity and would most likely leave me dead. They stand on their hands and do push ups for a minute followed by doing one handed pull ups for a minute. They are mix of Bear Grylls and MacGyver. Birkam Yoga? So last year! The brains have already moved on to Anti-Gravity Yoga! Pilates and kick boxing? What is this the 90s? The brains have been piloxing (google it, it’s a real thing) for a year now and are ready for something us regular folk haven’t even imagined.

So there you have it, how my gym is just like “The Breakfast Club.” My husband tells me not to pay attention to what other people are doing in the gym. He says I should mind my own business, which is great advice. But it is so darn hard when I have a princess popping her gum next to me, or a brain suspended from the ceiling! So there you have it, how my gym is just like “The Breakfast Club.” My husband tells me not to pay attention to what other people are doing in the gym. He says I should mind my own business, which is great advice. But it is so darn hard when I have a princess popping her gum next to me, or a brain suspended from the ceiling!

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