Writing Wednesdays | Characters at the Gym | 10/18/2023

Just some journalistic observations of interesting people at the gym.

The six AM crowd at my local gym is fairly consistent. I’ve noticed a lot of the same people and wonder if they notice me. I don’t listen to music beyond whatever dance mix is playing on the loudspeaker, so I tend to people watch between sets and as I walk around.

A new employee has long blue hair, a beanie, and cat eye makeup on at the desk. She always sounds surprised when I say, “Good, how are you?” in response to her greeting, which makes me wonder if other people blow her off. I hope not.

An old man with a few gold teeth seems to be friends with everyone. I learned his name a while ago and will smile and wave at him whenever I see him. He’s in the habit of saying, “I hear that!” in response to most things, which is strangely reassuring and easy to laugh along to. He had a walker with him most recently. I hope he’s doing all right.

One woman always comes to the gym in a skirt. It might be a skort, but I’ve never really looked long enough to tell. She seems intensely focused on what she’s doing. I wish I had the gall to approach her and tell her I’ve noticed her coming so consistently, but I don’t want to break her concentration.

Several couples seem terse with each other when they’re together at the gym. Sometimes it comes off like one of them is more experienced than the other and the latter is embarrassed that they don’t know what they’re doing. I heard a woman say, “Who do you think I am?” to her apparent boyfriend after he explained to her how a machine works. I wonder if working out together will bring them closer or drive them apart. There are others that get along better, swapping back and forth on machines, balancing against each other, chatting.

A Clark Kent type, hair swoop and all, comes with a mountain man lumberjack-looking guy. They seem nice, though I can’t really get a read on them. They seem both intense and cartoonish at the same time.

Speaking of cartoons, there’s a man with Transformers tattoos on his calves, one on each side of his legs for a total of four. I don’t know the characters well enough to say which. In between sets of… whatever it is he’s doing, a chaotic alternation between bodyweight exercises and weightlifting, he turns over a card from a deck of playing cards. I imagine that they’re determining what he does next, but I can’t be sure.

I, myself, can be seen wearing a Dragon Ball Z tank top nine times out of ten, which is in and of itself a painfully stereotypical thing for an anime enjoyer who likes the gym to do. It’s all right. There’s a reason a lot of people like to have DBZ gym wear. You sit up a little straighter and lift a little heavier when you have a picture of a good-natured, buff alien hillbilly on your chest.

I wanted to record these observations because they’ve been knocking around in my head for several months now. I used to go to the gym in the afternoons, but the crowds were more sporadic then than they are in the mornings. There’s a pervasive thought from people who don’t go to the gym that only one type of aggressive dudebro tends to be a regular gymgoer and that’s simply not true; as you can see there’s a wide variety of interesting people.

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