I was groaning, huffing, puffing and in general causing my personage a whole lot of quite unnecessary inconvenience. Rivulets of sweat dripped from my forehead into my eyes, impairing my vision. Muscles I didn’t even know I had were aching in ways I hadn’t deemed possible. The lungs were expanding and contracting like a blacksmith’s bellows, quite unused to the ravaging cardio routine they had been put through.
For all of 17 seconds.
All it had taken was a brisk start on the treadmill. Eager in my noob-ness, I had gamboled around on the elliptical machine and that ridiculous contraption called the stationary bicycle for 20 minutes and was feeling pretty confident in my ability to not faint or die without notice. The trembling of the legs was bravely ignored with a belittling “There there little guy” to my more cautious and rational side. The first stride on the treadmill told me something was wrong. Mostly it was my left leg, which had refused to move upon command and was being the paragon of stoic disobedience. Only the quick action of a passing neanderthal had saved me from a nasty spill.
After 10 very tedious minutes involving a solicitous lecture by a self-proclaimed fitness expert (with much under-the-breath swearing by the disadvantaged party), I was bundled off to do push-ups or pull-downs or some other such contortion. While tiresome, this extremely boring lifting and setting down of weights did serve a purpose. I could, under the guise of valiantly wiping off sweat or flexing my hands, steal a dekko at some of the other local fauna. They came in various shapes and sizes, either flexing various muscles, soliloquizing to mirrors, nodding to the frankly alarming music selection of the proprietor, or any combination of the aforementioned activities. One particular bozo was bench-pressing an admirable selection of weights, causing me to marvel at his musculature, till he got up and revealed that he was all of 3 feet. This vertical impairment meant that his chest muscles were wider than he was tall, making him look like the love-child of Arnold Schwarznegger and Gimli the Dwarf. Suddenly, a tap on my shoulder brought me out of my reverie, and I turned around to see who had dared.
Here, there was a pause of the sort that happens when a man beholds something that causes him to question life itself. It took me about 7 seconds of staring to realize that the thing that had interrupted my musings was a human being, mainly because there was so much of him. Little kids could have used his considerable girth as a trampoline and he would not have noticed. He clearly wanted to say something, that much was evident from the contortion of his face. But the actual process of stringing words together into a coherent sentence seemed to be taking all of his not-immense processing power. Fighting an impulse to mock him, I raised a questioning brow.
His mouth flailed around uselessly for another two minutes before he churned out the laborious words. Calling him incoherent would be like calling Twilight only slightly gay. But through long years of my University of Pune Engineering experience, I deciphered his verbal spasms to mean something along the lines of “Don’t do such heavy cardio” and “You really should have more sense”. Now while I am hardly the picture of Adonis, I definitely was the leaner and more muscular of the two of us, while he looked like he’d just eaten a whole colony of walruses. Had Shakespeare (or whoever that bloke was who wrote under that name) gazed upon him, he would have gasped “On what meat doth he feed, that he has grown so great?”. But his brobdingnagian adipose deposits clearly did not come with any intellectual bonuses, as he proceeded to tell me off about working out too hard and being irresponsible.
Which, after much meandering, brings me to the problem, why the fuck do people go to the gym? Most of them, the sane ones, do so because they like being fit, or building their physique. Then there are those who will have come just to get away from the wife/girlfriend nagging about that tire around their waist. There always will be a bunch of old people, trying to recapture the glory of their youth. But most importantly, it is not the building up and buffing of the muscles that matters in a gym; it is the EGO. It is the feeling that comes by staring at yourself in mirrors for hours; harbouring the delusion of being shredded and muscular, where in fact there are flabby guts and saggy man-boobs; it is the feeling of being superior to the outside world. Some take it well, become awesome. Some don’t…
They become Steven Seagal!