1. The stair machine divides all of humanity.
Yeah, I know, there are already gym divides between the free weight people and the weight machines people and between the weight people and the cardio people and between the adrenaline people and the yoga people and between the hardcore sweatbox yoga people and the gentle yoga people. I know. But these are all illusions. The one thing that truly tells you what kind of human being you are is whether you will stay on that goddamned stair machine or not.
The stair machine has been scientifically proven to be simultaneously the most physically taxing and the most boring piece of equipment in any gymnasium anywhere, ever, right back to ancient Babylon. The stair machine is simultaneously so draining and so tedious it was used as a punishment in the Victorian era, for chrissakes.
And now the stair machine devotees feel like they got a monster bargain if they’re only paying $150 a month for the privilege of using one. And if they get kicked off after only 45 minutes so someone else can have a turn, they bitch until people as far away as the International Space Station can feel their ears bleed.
Which wouldn’t be so bad if the stair machine had the full-body magic of, say, serious kettlebell work. But no: Have you heard people talk about the stair machine? They’re not even trying to hide it: The stair machine is only about your ass. Oh, don’t try equivocating about quads and hams and calves at this point, stair machine people. You’ve blown the game and we all know the truth:
The stair machine is only about your ass.
If you are on the stair machine, you are staring into space — yes, they put them with a bad view of the TVs just to torment you, and rightly so — boring yourself into a walking coma and engaging in an activity that was finally deemed too cruel for prison just so you can have the very most rounded butt of all your friends. A butt your friends can bounce quarters off of. But it’s tough to catch those quarters again, because your butt is so very rounded that they fly off in completely unpredictable directions.
Think about that. It’s like taking up meditation solely in the hopes of really crushing those 9 a.m. staff meetings. It’s like training as an astronaut just to get better reception for a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon. It’s like joining the Peace Corps for the suntan. Except all of those activities are way less boring and might accidentally give you other real benefits.
The first time you climb onto the stair machine, you are at, ironically, a crossroads. Either you will immediately realize that this is a tedious bullshit exercise and there are much better ways to get in shape or you will immediately realize that this is a tedious bullshit exercise and there are much better ways to get in shape and still think, “Yeah… but my ass!”
God help you if you are in the second category. You are the reason the Vasa sank. You and lead pipes are the reason Rome fell. You are the reason we as a species can’t have nice things.
I hope you’re proud of yourselves. No, not just your butts, yourselves. Jesus.
2. Your greatest endorphin rush will not come from exercise.
Don’t get me wrong. The moment when you do three full sets ten pounds heavier than you’ve ever done, collapse into a puddle on your mat after nailing Scorpion Pose, or hit whatever insane triathlon training goal you had on the treadmill is a great moment. You’ll feel proud, you’ll feel bliss, you’ll eagerly bore any friends who will listen with the tale.
But the greatest rush you’ll get at the gym will be on the day when the manager realizes that the asshole who has been leaving a lock on one of the public lockers to give himself his very own free private locker has been doing that and breaks out the bolt cutters on his ass.
Smart gym managers: Let people watch you chomp that jerkbag’s lock off. Make it an event. Let it drop into a metal trash bin so they can hear the clang and then hold it up in triumph like the Medusa’s severed head. You’ll have happy clients charging around the gym like Rocky all day long.
3. It’s time to define your relationship with sweat.
No, not your own sweat. You’ve either been fine with your own sweat since you’ve been a toddler or you should stop reading this immediately and book an extra therapy session.
You’re also probably fine with the sweat of anyone you want to mack with and relatively OK with the sweat of any pals you’re on a sports team with.
We’re not talking about your relationship with any of that sweat. It’s time to define your relationship with the sweat of random total strangers. Because that’s mostly who’s roaming around the gym, sweating their creepy faces off and using the bike right before you and making butt prints on the weight bench and almost never using the pathetic little tea towels that are all you’ve been issued to stand between you and the glandular secretions of all humanity.
You have to get comfortable with the fact that everything you do in the name of sanitation at the gym is fake and you are basically participating in an ongoing perspiration exchange program. Make your peace with it now or it’s time to go back to doing wind sprints around the disturbing loners in the park.
4. Do not rely on the gym televisions.
Seriously. If you forget your music/phone/tablet/kindle/actual paper book, just turn around and go home. Your gym will have anywhere from one to 30 televisions dotted around, and not a single one of them will be tuned to something you want to watch. In fact, they will somehow each be tuned to a different show that you’ve never heard of and would not, in a just universe, ever have come to exist. Consider yourself lucky if you’ve got a chair-throwing scumball talk show in your line of vision. Otherwise your only options are people bidding on storage lockers, scammy financial shows, and people selling sweaters with bejeweled shih-tzus on them.
5. Your lizard brain will burn your carefully constructed music snobbery right to the ground.
Batteries die. Phones get left at the office. It happens. Inevitably one day you’ll be at the gym with no choice but to pass the time listening to the pounding piped-in music coming from the ceiling. And you know what? It’s not so bad. It’s actually sort of OK. In fact, that awesome driving beat is the only thing getting you through that killer variable resistance bike program and up over that fake hill and now your head is bobbing and you have your groove face on and Jesus Christ, that’s Pitbull.
Too late, my friend. You’re in, and you’re enjoying it. What your lizard brain wants when you’re working out is a party jam bass line and a catchy hook and there’s no getting around it. Fortunately, you’re going to be able to work through it. Especially the way your mood has been buoyed by that Ke$ha song you’re bopping along to.
[Featured Image By Shutterstock]