The gym is a place where you're supposed to sweat. I understand that. I get it.
Few people should expect to leave the gym without sweating. If you do, you probably haven't exercised to an extent that your visit to the gym was worth getting out of bed. Going to the gym and expecting not to sweat is like going to your favorite restaurant and expecting to leave hungry, or watching a Jack Black movie and expecting to be entertained. It doesn't compute.
I, for one, am a free sweater. Forget lifting weights or running the track, I'm the guy who works up a sweat changing his clothes in the locker room. Sweat brakes on my brow just lacing up my sneakers. I'm fairly certain I had to reapply deodorant the other day because I thought about climbing a set of stairs, so what happens when I really do exercise? By the time our spin class at the gym is over I've cycled enough sweat out of my body it looks like I'm personally trying to create a new Great Lake on the floor around me.
I'm perfectly accepting of the idea I'm going to break a sweat at the gym. What I don't expect is for the gym to make the decision for me. That's what happened the other day when My Lovely Wife and I arrived for our non-cycle day of non-aerobic strength training. By strength training, I mean we planned to hit what I think of as the "old people" machines.
You know the old people machines, don't you? They're the machines hidden away in a deep recess of the gym that work only one or two muscles at a time. They don't get your heart pumping, they apply their own non-adjustable hydraulic tension, and they leave with you with absolutely no sense of gratification at having completed a rigorous morning workout because, let's be honest, you haven't. You sit, wiggle your extremities for two minutes, then move to the next machine when the light turns red. It's essentially a timed game of musical chairs during which there's no music, no knocking anyone to the floor, and no winners.
The old people machines are a great day in our weekly workout for several reasons. For starters, less laundry. If I'm not sweating straight through my cycle shorts like I've lost bladder control, then there's no reason to wash the gym shorts I wore for less than two hours. And if my shirt isn't soaked through like a live sponge at the bottom of the ocean, then there's no reason to wash the hoodie that keeps the crisp fall air from hitting my paper-thin drenched shirt. Second, the kids might actually hug us like we're not covered in some grotesquely horrid bodily fluid, because we're not. Finally, no sweating. Not even a healthful, shimmery glisten.
The other day, however, the temperature in the gym was hovering somewhere between tropical and solar flare. Turns out, like so many large buildings these days, the thermostat is remotely controlled by a system five states away that, on this particular day, was combating an Arctic front moving through North Carolina that none of us realized had befallen us.
Somewhere in Atlanta, Tallahassee or Terre Haute was the solution to our heatwave, only it's doubtful anyone that far away cares much about an emergency air conditioning adjustment at five-thirty in the morning just so I don't have to get clammy while pretending to work out.
© 2015 Mark Feggeler