Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Gym

I like going to the gym. I feel great after a 90 minute run on the elliptical trainer. It also helps that I burn 1500 calories in that 90 minutes, meaning I can eat 3500 calories per day without gaining weight. Daddy liiiike...

But there is a down side to the gym. Unless it's your own private gym, you share it with others, which means exposure to their bad etiquette, or worse, disease. When I first started, I would go in street clothes, change there, shower afterward, and then leave just as clean as when I arrived...or so I thought. Two months later I had athlete's foot. I have to assume I picked it up in the shower. I now arrive in gym clothes and go home sweaty, to shower in my own, clean shower.

More recently I changed gyms (now I can walk to the gym from my house). Shortly after starting at this new gym I developed a serious stomach infection that lasted 5 days. Talking to another member of the same gym, I was informed that he too had gotten ill the same day as I, and had worked out at the gym as well. Furthermore, he had gotten sick at that gym before. No smoking gun, but enough evidence to make me decide that, prior to every workout, I would spray down all surfaces of the elliptical I intended to touch with a disinfectant and let it sit for 20 to 30 seconds before wiping it down. I have not been sick since.

Recently I have seen several things happen at the gym that makes me grateful for this almost mysophobic (germaphobic) routine. As I already said, I no longer use the locker room, which means I almost never go into the bathroom. I have used the restroom twice at the new gym: once when I did 3 hours on the elliptical, and once when I did my normal routine, but had come from being out and about, and I tend to drink a lot of water. Both times I saw men shaving. At my last gym, several times I saw men shaving their backs and arms. In my opinion this should never happen. If you use the full services of the locker room, it should not be a substitute for your home grooming. The point of a gym locker room is to allow you to arrive and leave clean. Shave at home. I don't want to have to worry about being exposed to HIV or hepatitis at the gym because you decided to skip shaving at home and cut yourself at the gym.

Another time, while I was working out, I glanced over and saw a man using another machine, and on his arms he had several lesions of some sort. I didn't ask him about it, and for all I know they were just sores from sliding into third base, but regardless of their origins, they were crusted with dried blood and lymph. Obviously they were not bandaged, and they were on his hands. Not in direct contact with the machine, but could be if he accidentally backhanded the machine while reaching for something. I probably should have said something to him, such as, "Sir, you really should bandage those wounds prior to coming to the gym, both for your safety as well as the safety and peace of mind of others." I would think, though, that such a practice would be common sense.

Finally, I would like to mention the Really Ugly of the gym: cruising. I don't have any problems with meeting someone at the gym, and if that leads to dating, or just hooking up, or whatever, that's your business. But it is one thing to see someone you think is attractive, make contact, and then take it private, and quite another thing to see someone you like and just stare them down. Repeatedly. If you don't know how to flirt, get a coach. But don't stare me down on a daily basis, or worse, follow me around the weight room. That's stalking. Get a clue: if I didn't respond to you at first, I'm either not interested or not paying attention (which means you didn't catch my interest, right? So I'm still not interested). Go away!

Okay, so that is my gym rant. The point: I like going to the gym, but remember people, it's a public place. Treat it well, so others can enjoy it too.

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