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MANTALK: Be gone you pesky gym newbies!

Friday February 3 2017


Nothing is more irritating than the flood of overweight snowflakes who flood the gym in an effort to realise their January weight loss ambitions. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Boy, am I glad January is over! Not because it’s a long, dreadful month through which you have to struggle with a hole in your pocket, no. It’s because we will now experience fewer clowns in the gym.

This past month the gym has been infiltrated by wild-eyed, bushy-tailed, over-enthusiastic, annoying, impassioned, unrealistic, vain, annoying [again] new gym entrants. It was easy to pick them out on the first day from their signatures in the welcome book at the reception, signing in like they were applying for an emergency loan.

They all came in new gear, picked dutifully off the long shelves of the New Year Resolution store. They came in righteous, in full confidence that finally, the tyre around their waists would roll away after 100 sit-ups and a bottle of water with lemon slices in it. They came with these sheets of paper on which were printed instructions that some fancy personal trainer designed or that they picked off a YouTube video that some celebrity fitness trainer from Hollywood dished out. You would see them, lips pursed, reading the next workout set: lunges! Oh lunges, they love lunges because they make their buttocks strong and shapely, don’t they? Will four sets cut it?

They all came to the gym at the same time, taking all our space with their enthusiasm and their silly questions (“Are you using those weights?” “No, I’m just holding them to feel how much they weigh.”). And they had this new gear, these wonderful branded shoes and gloves and fitness watches and knick knacks that all match. So the men would show up with Nike apparel; shoes, shorts, socks, the whole shebang. They soon found out that their fancy apparel didn’t with determination and discipline, though. The thing about the gym is that you will quickly learn quickly that you might look like a million bucks, but good looks won’t help you press 50kgs on the bench. You only look good failing at it. With your fancy gear.

One newbie came in with this fancy water bottle on which was emblazoned the name ‘King David’. Well, King David lasted two weeks. What he needed to understand is that the only king in the gym is the gym. The rest of us are minions.



These newbies all made a beehive for the treadmill because the treadmill is the poster child of middle-class physicality. The treadmill is the only piece of equipment in the gym on which nobody can ever look bad. Treadmills were built for lazy newcomers who are too precious to jog outside like normal people. Sometimes I secretly wished they would fall off the treadmill – not enough to break their wrist but just enough for them to sprawl out on the carpet with their fancy Adidas shoes up in the air. How about that for looking good?

The men kept looking at their biceps in the mirror after day three, as if Aladdin the genie blew a kiss at their guns and they grew overnight. They probably imagined that the rest of us with no biceps had been hanging out at the gym polishing the weights instead of lifting them for the past five months and that they were here to show us lazy bums how they could grow bigger biceps after five curls of weight. You should have seen them walking around with their muscle shirts and promising beer bellies, like the cast of a bad action movie shot in Mexico.

The women were the worst, always staring at themselves in the mirror. Mirrors should be removed from gyms; they are not only the breeding ground of vanity and narcissism, but they distract people from what brought them to the gym. Or perhaps they should install those infracted mirrors that make everybody look fat or thin. Mostly fat, because half the people in the gym imagine they should look better than they do given the amount of work they put in.

The questions you’d hear them ask the trainers would put you in a coma: “I have finished running, what do I do next?” “How does this machine work?” “Is there a smaller weight?” “Can I come Thursday? Because tomorrow I have workshop.” “Has my pot reduced?” “How long will it take to lose this?” (How long did it take to gain it?!). “Can you change the music?” It would go on and on like a spoilt child in a toy shop. Don’t even get me started on the ones who would come into the gym floor with their mobile phones and stop working out to take selfies.

I’m certain they will be gone this month. Then gym can finally go back to normal. We certainly won’t miss any of them.