Well…it happened. Last night I walked into the gym a normal sane person, one with a life outside the mirrors and wood floors, with friends who didn’t constantly monitor their heart beat every 15 minutes and who felt absolutely no guilt for eating an entire box of Oreo’s nor are they mathematicians, calculating how much time they have to spend on the Elliptical to work off said box of cookies. Yes yes I may have walked in normal, but I walked out (please insert ominous music building up to a crescendo to enhance the dramatization of this pivotal moment in my life) a creepy gym rat.
It was a subtle transformation, one I noticed towards the beginning of last week with the addition of a gym partner. A permanent one. This was an easy justification. I need the motivation. We will inspire each other. It’s a good time and a new friend. And that little twinge of omg what are you doing was quietly rubbed out. Then came, and this is with the greatest of affection, the gym bitch. My go to guy who answers all my questions, offers insight and instruction and who has literally over night become a staple to my/our work out regiment. Again, I rubbed away that twinge of what are you doing? Why are getting to know the staff? However, when I realized that I was coming often enough to recognize and create pet names for some of the other patrons in the gym I panicked slightly and justified this behavior as an attempt to make light of a situation that was slowly spiraling out of control. It started with aimless wanderer. This is the guy who wanders from machine to machine without rhyme or reason, reading the instructions, trying them out for about two reps before moving on to the next. Then it was Grunt man. He lifts free weights and apparently the exertion of the weights compels one to grunt…loudly…every single time it is lifted Then there was disinfectant boy, who as his name implies, goes from machine to machine with a bottle of disinfectant and all I hear is squirt squirt squirt….grunt….squirt squirt…grunt…while stuck in the 80’s man some how manages to constantly stay in my peripheral with his halved sweat shirt and matching head and wrist bands, all the while I’m trying to keep Mr. Universe (this is a constantly rotating label I give to who ever is the hottest guy working out upstairs at the time) in my eye line without looking like a stalker. Not as easy as one would imagine.
Then I showered at the gym. I broke my one rule, that no matter what, I would never, ever be one of those people that showered at the gym. But I did it, I knew at the time, as I stood there and let that hot water run over my tired and aching muscles, I knew I was crossing a line and I liked it. Oh yes. It felt good in a very very wrong way. And I knew it would do it again. After I broke this one personal rule, all the others where easily justified away. Over the next couple of days, I/we were referred to as regulars by the night staff, other patrons recognized us/me and spoke, I started favoring certain equipment over others, and mastered that I go the gym strut coupled with a sense of superiority. I pull it off quite nicely I think. Never mind the fact that the phrase “the gym” is dropped into just about every conversation I partake in, I bought shoes and clothes to wear there specifically (and those who know me well I can only imagine your shock) and virtually arrange my entire day around the time I will be going to the gym. And then there was tonight, tonight the transformation was complete. It was a relatively simple thing that happened, comparatively speaking.
I sat with my gym buddy in the women’s dressing room slathering Bengay over my body, forgetting that this incredibly outstanding ointment is like an aphrodisiac to gym people, discussing the discovery that the cute Mohawk headed boy who works the front desk is leaving. And then as I joked about having to beat the guys off with a stick from the wafting prowess of the bengay I realized that I was genuinely distressed that tonight was his last night. And I realized why. He was nice, and I looked forward to seeing him and having him say hi to me, asking me how I was doing so I could reply with my usual response, Outstanding, thank you. I was upset, because in only three weeks, I had gotten used to everything, and most importantly, I had come to find the consistency of it all comforting. Ta da…the transformation was complete.
Trust me, no one is more upset over this recent turn of events than me. I have become one of those people that until yesterday, I joked. I hate that I look forward to heading to the gym when I get off work, that the mere action of walking through the doors makes me feel better about myself both physically and mentally. I hate that I get a small thrill and honestly, all joking aside, get a little creeeped out with the changes in my body, such as the sudden appearance of an ass (I really wish somebody could see me naked and confirm this). And above all else, I absolutely loathe the fact that I feel…off… on the nights I don’t make it the gym.
I have resided myself to the fact that I have turned into one of those creepy gym people, and not one of the cool ones either. But one of the ones that get dubbed stupid nick names, that perpetually smell like bengay and grimace slightly every time they have to take the stairs because she knows her gym partner is going to look at her knee and ask if that’s where that crunching sound is coming from. Yes, yes, I have joined the ranks of all those that live for power bars and heart rates, where extra strength deodorant and a supportive sports bra are a must, where it’s ok to get naked in front of complete strangers on a daily bases (as long as your in the locker room) so on and so forth. I’m sure my creepy gym behaviors will continue to manifest in different and disturbing ways. But, at the very least by God, I’ll look good doing them.