Dec 17, 2009, 4:30 PM EDT
Ah, the local gym; you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get into shape (laugh track), or simply need some pointers on how to survive during your regular workouts, here’s a handy guide. Courtesy of our own workoutaholic, Jelisa Castrodale (not pictured). Follow it closely.
By Jelisa Castrodale
I’m just back from the grocery store and as I unloaded my Teddy Grahams and EZ Cheez and other assorted artificial flavors, I realized that by the time these hot dogs expire, it will be a brand new year. We’re down to the last handfuls of Oh Nine and I’m both dreading and anticipating the opportunity to crack into 2010. On one hand, I’m looking forward to using my new Kurt Warner Fumble-A-Day Calendar. On the other, January means an endless parade of people bringing their New Years Resolutions into the gym, a solid month of watching helplessly as they awkwardly straddle the elliptical machines or snag the only yoga mat that doesn’t smell like a dead raccoon.
I can’t fault these people for trying to better themselves, especially when it comes to making healthy choices and positive lifestyle changes. In fact, I went through the same thing several Januarys ago when I came to the sad realization that I got winded trying to unclog the nozzle on my spray butter. Since then, I’ve worn out more than one YMCA membership card and continue to work out more often than I do anything other than quietly weep about my wasted potential.
The best part of the influx of new members at the gym is
the real and exciting possibility that I’ll see someone hurt themselves watching as they settle into a routine and finally get the chance to introduce themselves to their expectations. So if you’ll be double-knotting a brand new pair of kicks on January 1, here are a few tips to help you through your first week of working out.
Get a Towel. At my gym, they’re readily available at the front desk, stacked five deep like puppy mill terriers. In fact, take two of them so you have one for the shower and one for your workout, because lifting weights is like eating chicken curry or having sex: if it’s done right, you should be sweating at the end. You’ll want to place a towel on the bench (or Nautilus machine) before you take a seat and do a courtesy wipe-down when you’re done. Again, just like … um. Yeah. Moving on.
Don’t Shriek or Grunt. Or shout or yell or make any other sound that you’ve seen illustrated in the panels of a comic book. Gentlemen, I’m looking in your direction. Yes, your workout is strenuous, but at no point should it sound like you’re giving birth to a Miata. “But what about that dude in the corner,” you might ask. “Why can he make loud noises?” Because that dude in the corner — the one curling the equivalent of Andy Reid with each arm — is an exception. He looks like he was carefully carved out of a single block of granite. You look like a Ziploc bag full of cottage cheese. Now shut it.
Dress Appropriately. You can’t go wrong with loose fitting clothing, regardless of which set of chromosomes you have. Guys, a comically undersized shirt doesn’t make your biceps look massive; it makes you look like you raided the clearance aisle at Baby Gap. And ladies, I know you like the idea of form-fitting pants, but we shouldn’t be able to look at your outfit and tell if you’re ovulating or not.
Respect Boundaries in the Locker Room. This is one of the few places other than Primary Care or a Phish concert that encourages you to strip down in front of total strangers, so it has the potential to be unsettling. Obviously this is where the additional towel comes in. Even though it’s the size of a McGriddle wrapper, it should be enough to conceal your personal topiary as you stroll toward the shower.
Look, it’s awesome if you’re comfortable with your body, but that doesn’t mean I am, especially if it’s dangerously close to my eyes. “It’s OK,” one very naked, very elderly woman told me this morning as she turned to give me the Full — albeit sagging — Monty. “We’ve both got the same parts.”
“No, not really,” I wanted to tell her. “I can’t play tetherball with mine.”
Finally, Be Friendly. But not in the locker rooms, since those — along with prison showers and lunch dates with Gorgons — are places where you may not want to lock eyes with anyone. But when we’re in the exercise areas, it’s cool to give a nod, a wave, or a hello. Yes, you’re there with a goal in mind — or even a prepared routine — so I don’t need to know the details of your colonoscopy, but it can’t hurt to be cordial. You won’t be the New Guy (or Girl) forever, so with dedication, hard work, and a commitment to never letting your sweat pool on a weight bench, you’ll be the one warily eying the Resolutionaries next January.
Somebody needs to tell them to get a towel.
Jelisa Castrodale is a writer and comedian who has learned a lot about life by making a mess of her own. She chronicles her failures at The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy, covers music for London’s BitchBuzz and twitters while she waits at stoplights. Castrodale was featured in the book Twitter Wit and was named one of Mashable’s 10 Funniest Twitterers.
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