Joined a gym the other day. 24 Hour Fitness, over by the Super Target on Colorado. I really hate when they put gyms next to Targets, because every time I work out I end up buying a Corona hat or a rotisserie chicken. I hate that. But not as much as I hate these things:
The Salesmen Why is it that no matter the gym, no matter the salesman, they always claim that their gym has the best-looking women? The gym could at that very moment be filled with a thousand first-class meatheads and the salesmen will assure you that on Saturday mornings, or some other time that is not right then, "the talent in this place is unreal." They will always use the word "talent." I think it's in the manual.
Working Out It's amazing how America continues to ignore one crucial fact about joining a gym: Working out sucks. It's boring. Repetitive. Sweaty. And no matter how close your gym is, it takes forever to drive there.
Yet I continue to cheerfully hand my credit card to pervy salesmen selling a product I actively despise, agreeing not only to pay monthly for the opportunity to engage in said activity, but also to pay a one-time fee for "activating" my misery. It's like paying someone $79 to punch you in the face, and then another $31 per month to let him kick you in the junk once a month for 24 months.
What's that? You'd like a towel to wipe your tears? That'll be two bucks.
Wendy's Say you've just finished a thirteen-minute jog-walk on the treadmill, followed by two-and-a-half reps of curls and one failed tango with a giant rubber ball. Your body feels like it's been through an entire season of Deadliest Catch. So you walk out of the gym, weary but proud, and what do you encounter fifty feet from your gym's front door, just across the parking lot? The inimitable smell of Wendy's French fries, heart-stoppingly golden and delicious, begging your olfactories to drag you into the drive-thru line.
You oblige, never one to argue with your olfactories' navigational sensibility. And you end up taking down a Baconator, fries and a Dr. Pepper big enough to drown a toddler. Meanwhile, the chicken breast you were thawing at home goes rotten, much like your insides. But hey, that's why you work out, right? So you can eat what every you want!
“Wanna run?” The savior of this particular 24 Hour is its cavernous gymnasium, a full-length basketball court that, despite its emptiness at the time of my tour, is constantly playing host to good games, according to the salesman. Considering my stature – I'm about the size of a large Scottish Terrier – I'm not the most intimidating force on the court. But I like to ball nonetheless.
What I don't like is everything that goes with pick-up basketball.
Typically there is a game going when I arrive, so I clumsily shoot eight-footers on an unoccupied hoop, constantly terrified of bricking one into the middle of the game and enraging the group's token 'roid monkey. While I wait, someone in much longer shorts than mine invariably enters the gym and asks me "who has next" -- hoop-speak for who has dibs on playing the next game. Technically I have next, but I usually yield the floor to whoever else comes in. "I'd rather just shoot around anyway," I tell myself, which is sort of like saying you'd rather go to the driving range than play golf, or that you'd rather have sex with yourself than have sex with yourself twice in a row.
When the game finally ends, I wait patiently for one of my fellow ballers to invite me to join the game. They rarely do. There is a freakish lack of communication on pick-up basketball courts. Also, I'm a midget. Not literally, but almost literally -- short enough that sperm banks won't take my sperm (seriously; look it up). So I shoot around until they realize that playing with a little person is better than playing with nine people. (Not everyone realizes this, but you only need a majority).
Eventually, after much debate over the rules and the duration of the game –- how are there no uniform rules for these things by now? -- we play. I drain a three-pointer early, causing one of the black guys to begin calling me by the name of some notable white shooter, usually Steve Kerr.
As in: "Do him, Steve Kerr!" "You can't leave Steve Kerr open like that, baby!" "That's Steve Kerr right there!"
I never know what to call the black guy back.
Saying goodbye The worst part about joining a gym, of course, is canceling your membership six month later (five and a half months after you stopped going). You always have to explain how you've decided that you're more of an "activity person -- you know, hiking, biking that sort of thing." Then you have to walk out. This is always the hardest part; there's so much talent in there! But you take one long look and say goodbye.
That Baconator isn't gonna order itself. -- Joe Tone