You’ve probably got lots of reasons not to go to the gym. I used to have just one: I hated it. After five weeks, though, it’s something I plan to continue at least for six. Maybe seven. Who knows?
One of the things I like about the gym is its convenience. Our apartment complex has two gyms. One of them is fully equipped with cute Asian chicks between the morning hours of 5:30 and 8:00. The other one has a full complement of cute white and Hispanic chicks in the evening, so it’s a very excellent pair of facilities.
The gym is also really easy to use as compared to cycling. Here’s what you have to do in order to ride your road bike:
- Check calendar to pick proper ride
- Air up tires
- Fill water bottle
- Turn on iPhone Strava app
- Wipe/lube chain (yeah, right)
- Put on ID neck chain for when you get run over
- Put on sunscreen
- Put on embro (Oct-Jun)
- Put on stretchy tight undershirt
- Make agonizing decision about which kit to wear
- Put on complicated biker outfit
- Put on complicated ratchety-thing shoes
- Adjust helmet
- Put on sunglasses
- Charge front/rear lights
- Attach lights
- Notify world via FB of impending ride heroics
- Charge video cam
- Attach video cam
- Put spare tire kit in jersey
- Put phone/money pouch in jersey
- Strip off complicated biker outfit in a sweating hurry because of Pre-Ride Rule #1: No matter how early you get up to patiently await your morning glory, it will only start tapping at the door when you’re fully suited up and ready to roll.
- Put complicated outfit back on
- Activate all lights, cameras & Garmins
- Check iPhone one last time to see who’s bailed at the last minute, forcing you to change your entire ride plan
- Reach meet-up point and hang around for half an hour waiting for people to show up
- Upload and analyze Strava data
- Give kudos (don’t leave anyone out!)
- Upload and edit ride video
- Carry mountain of embro-stained clothing to the washroom
- Wipe down bike
For the gym, however, the prep list is different, and it looks like this:
- Put on gym shorts, t-shirt, socks, and gym shoes.
- Walk over to gym.
- Work out.
Proper gym etiquette for the newbie biker wanker
Like cycling, gyms have their own rules. At first everything looks strange and different, but that’s just superficial. Essentially, it’s no different from a group ride.
Every gym has its “ride boss.” This is some short dude with a short dude complex and muscles in places that you thought were the exclusive domain of important internal organs. Like his cycling equivalent, he’s a psychopath, and spends all his time in the gym. He sizes you up at a glance, and your size is “puny weakling.” But don’t worry! If you keep at it, work your tail off, show up early in the morning and after work, sweat like a dog and try to follow his example, after many long years you will one day move up to “less puny weakling than you used to be.”
The important thing to know about the ride boss is that you must know his name, but he will forget yours repeatedly. He will also, after a while, become so disgusted with your flailing that he will offer you a tip. STOP EVERYTHING YOU’RE DOING AND COMMIT THE TIP TO MEMORY. If you follow it, it will be the first thing you’ve ever done right in a gym.
As you get to know the other regulars, it will feel more and more like a bike ride. For example:
- The weakest and flabbiest woman will repeatedly bench three times your heaviest single rep ever.
- The more you do it, the more you’ll realize how hopeless it is.
- Enthusiasm and full-on commitment will soon give way to some kind of lower back or knee injury.
- You’ll begin reading Muscle and Fitness.
- You’ll conclude that the reason everyone is stronger than you is because they’re doping.
Novice mistakes to avoid at all costs
After a few weeks, I’d kind of gotten my confidence up, and my tummy fat was starting to show the hint of a 1-and-a-half pack, and I swaggered into the gym ready to begin pumping iron. Two gym bunnies were spread out on the floor doing some kind of bunny yoga stretchy thing. Which was awesome.
They checked me out as I nodded coolly to them and grabbed the manly medicine ball to begin warming up. Then (and this tends to happen when I lift my hands above my head) I let out a very greasy and prolonged silent killer. Within seconds they’d caught my drift and moved all the way to the other side of the gym. A couple of presses later and I had the whole place to myself.
So that’s not cool. Please don’t do it.
The other huge novice mistake to avoid is the exercise ball fiasco. This is where you go online and watch a quick video of some cute chick or some muscly dude do Cat in the Hat type abdomen flexes using a giant circus ball. “I can do that,” you erroneously conclude.
So you hit the gym and, with other people present, you try out the old exercise ball balancing trick. If you’re lucky you just fall off the ball and ruin an ankle or a knee on the concrete. If you’re unlucky you kick the ball off to the side and scare the crap out of somebody. If you’re super unlucky you actually crack your forehead on the cement floor. I did that, and it hurts, especially when all the gym bunnies are watching you out of the corner of their eyes.
Stick to your plan
It’s easy to start working out at the gym, see some moderate improvement, and then completely forget why you’re there in the first place. This handy checklist will help you remember.
- Gigantic arms will not speed you up on the bike
- Just because Prez tore his knee ligaments doing lunges doesn’t mean you have to
- The guys in the gym will scorn you for your tweezlyness, but the bunnies will secretly die in envy for your narrow ass and skinny legs
- If you hear something tearing inside, followed by bloody urine, stop
- Grunting like Arnie when you’re benching 40 pounds embarrasses everyone
- The only time a six-pack helped a cyclist was after the race ended