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Steve Eaton: Joining a gym can inspire 'lunkish' behavior

Published: Friday, March 8 2013 5:23 p.m. MST

I don’t really know much about the culture of this gym yet. I’ve only gone one day.

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I went and joined a gym this morning, which is sort of crazy because I worked out once already in 2012.

I have this friend, however, who challenged me to come and work out with him. He said that he’s been having trouble being consistent in his workouts and thinks that by teaming up with me he would go on a regular basis. He thinks that I don’t know the real reason why he would like me, in particular, to be his workout buddy.

He’s a little overweight, but when he works out next to me he looks downright buff. I think that lots of people feel better about themselves the minute I walk into a gym. While I have way bigger abs than even the regulars, no amount of loose clothing can hide the fact that there are more pounds on me than there are on even the wealthiest Englishman.

What people don’t know about me is that when I put my mind to it, I can be an impressive gym person. I remember the last time I started working out on a regular basis, I would come into the gym each month and the regular guys, the guys who use the old-fashioned weights, would be there already grunting and groaning away. (I wish I could say this next part in a way that wouldn’t sound like I am bragging …) I would go in, do my entire workout and leave before these guys could even finish their routine. Keep in mind I was in my 50s and these were bodybuilders in their 20s.

Not all my gym experiences have been positive.

I had a less pleasant experience with a woman half my age at a gym I joined once. I was doing the rowing machine, and she came into the room in incredibly fashionable neon gym wear looking like she was a model who was only there to demonstrate that she had no need to be there. She went to work on a StairMaster. I finished my reps and went to get a drink of water. It was not five minutes later that she went to the same drinking fountain to get a drink. I was shocked and stunned and, frankly, didn’t know what to do.

I stood up.

“Hey, I’m married!” I said to her in anger and I stormed out of the gym. I didn’t go back for months because my marriage is that important to me.

This new gym I joined actually has rules against grunting loud, dropping weights or acting like you are in better shape than other people in the gym. I had to sign something saying I wouldn’t be a “lunk,” wear a bandanna or act like a body builder in neon clothes. They said if I did, they would set off a “Lunk Alarm.” It’s a real thing they have mounted on the wall that I’m told sounds like a fire alarm.

Of course, since I signed this contract, I can’t stop thinking about how much I’d like to be considered a lunk and set off the alarm. The urge to find some weights I could actually pick up and drop is nearly overpowering. I feel really bad about the no grunting part, too, because, truth be known, grunting is part of a weight workout I’m really very good at.

In fact, I’ve wondered if I could get in shape just sitting in front of the TV, eating and making that gym noise from deep within. I’ve tried it a couple times only to get shouted at by my wife, who seems to have forgotten that I could have left her long ago for some buff woman dressed in neon clothes.

I don’t really know much about the culture of this gym yet. I’ve only gone one day. On my very first day, I got in and out in about 10 minutes without even working up a sweat, but apparently, I didn’t do it with enough bravado to set off the alarm. If I’m in that much better shape than people who have been going there for years, it’s only a matter of time before my lunkish nature will surface, resulting in a reprimand.

Maybe they’ll call my wife and she’ll have to come down and get me out of a gym timeout. I’d be sitting there in the corner all proud and sheepish. She would walk over to me and give me that look that says, “I don’t have time for this,” and I would just grunt.

“Come with me, you big lunk,” she would say. Then she’d lead me out of the gym like I was a Neanderthal junior high student who had just been expelled from school. And then, when no one could see us, we’d both break out laughing.

Oh, that’s going on my bucket list.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com

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