It’s been a while since I’ve run into anyone strange enough that I needed to share the experience with the world. Gumbyman really set the bar pretty high. Last week, however, there was a chicken at the gym that I just can’t get out of my head. I’m going to go ahead and call this guy Ronald, because he had on bright, yellow shorts, the same color of Ronald McDonald’s clothing. He was also wearing fire engine red shoes, like Ronald’s hair.
Even if you don’t work out, I’m sure you’re familiar with the type of person who needs to outdo everyone in his actions. It’s “The Smartest Person In the Room” in social practice. If you play an instrument and you’re playing something loud, he’s the wiener in the next room who has to play louder. If you’re putting up Christmas lights and keeping things tasteful, it’s the guy who steals your electricity to have his house visible from outer space. If you’re driving home from work, it’s the piece of garbage in the Eclipse who thinks he drives a race car, passes you on the right, cuts you off, zooms ahead of you so that he can beat you to the standstill traffic up ahead, and then revs his engine, even though he’s driving a car with an automatic transmission. Ronald is this guy – at the gym. There are a lot of Ronalds at the gym, and he’s someone most people come to expect – around the free weights and the muscles….
On Wednesday mornings I go to a class some of you gym-goers may be familiar with. It’s called BODYPUMP™. It’s a choreographed weightlifting class. Some people are able to motivate themselves to exercise. They have that drive to just work out on their own. When I’m really angry, I can generally harness that emotion into some sort of serious work. It is not often that I am really angry on Wednesday mornings after I’ve had a cup of coffee, a chocolate chip muffin, and 9 hours of sleep. I find that having a super-fit badass yell at me and tell me to keep picking things up is much more effective at getting me to do shit. I’m clearly not alone because I see the same people in this class every Wednesday morning. I think I’m pretty strong – there are some tiny ladies in there who are even stronger than I am. Ronald was new last week.
When I saw him standing in the back I felt sorry for him. I thought, “Wow, that poor little guy is going to feel completely emasculated by this room full of women lifting heavy shit for an hour.” It’s not an arrogant statement – it’s just that people underestimate the difficulty of the class and the strength it takes to repeat an action like a bench press continuously for 5 minutes without any breaks. Little did I know, Ronald was incapable of feeling little, despite his small stature.
The form for doing these exercises is pretty simple. And there’s an instructor in the front telling you and showing you what to do. I would say it’s virtually idiot proof. It’s not like CrossFit where all kinds of crazy things are happening – I think if my clumsy butt tried that I’d become fast friends with my local ER doctors. Ronald was defiant. Ronald KNEW BETTER. Despite the fact that our instructor has taught thousands of these classes, Ronald was going to do his own version of these exercises.
Thank the lord for mirrors in group-exercise rooms. And thank goodness, I know how to laugh silently. When Ronald squatted he looked like he was about to vomit into an imaginary toilet in front of him, rather than keeping his chest up and sitting into an imaginary chair. We do an exercise called a dead lift, which our fearless leader compares to “stripper pose.” Ronald would suck as a stripper. The concept of shaving the bar down as close to the body as possible was lost on him. He was dropping that bar through the porcelain goddess he visited in his squats. Bicep curls? He looked like he was trying to throw things behind his head – literally, as if you would through salt over your shoulder. My favorite though, was when he decided to do his pterodactyl impression. He was specifically told to keep his elbows and hands below his shoulders when raising the weights up in shoulder flies. I actually saw him shake his head “no,” which was followed by him throwing his arms WAY up in the air like he was trying to lift off out of the room. OH, and the best part of that was that he was doing it with 1 kg weights – the smallest ones available.
I felt really bad for the woman who brought Ronald to the class. I felt bad that she knew this guy and had to talk to him. I’m sure he’s a real peach of a person. Who was he trying to impress? He was in a room full of women who were all secretly laughing at him and thinking he was a giant turd. I suppose it takes all kinds to make the world, but I wouldn’t mind running into less of his kind.