THE NAKED TRUTH
GYMS ARE A NECESSARY EVIL WHEN ONE HAS THE INFORMER’S CHISELLED PHYSIQUE, BUT THE CHANGING ROOM IS A WHOLE OTHER BALLGAME
Regular readers of this rectangle may recall being bored witless by tales of Informer’s inspirational weight loss during 2017. Nevertheless, I feel it only right that you should receive an update. To wit, Informer has joined a gym.
Well, truth be told I’ve re-re-re-rejoined the gym. The thing is, gyms and Informer have endured a fickle relationship over many years. I’m all for fitness, sure, but gyms are terrible places.
I don’t like the equipment, I don’t like most of the people using the equipment, I don’t like the constant physical comparisons and, being a man of words rather than numbers, I’m useless at counting.
Even so, in an effort to complement a running and dietary regime that has culminated in the Adonis-like correspondent you read before you, I decided to give the gym another try.
It’s been a couple of weeks and all was going well. I even made a friend who, for dignity’s sake, I shall call Pete and with whom I have partaken in several post-workout protein shakes.
Have you ever drunk one of those things? Disgusting. A quarter-cup of fruit, a quartercup of yoghurt and half a cup of vomit. Such are the things we do, and down, in the name of health.
Of course, health is one thing; hygiene is another. To that end, there is no escaping what is by far the biggest problem with gyms: getting naked with other chaps.
I’m uncomfortable with changing rooms and I doubt I’m the exception.
There’s just something inordinately horrid about undressing, showering, drying and dressing again in close proximity to a sweaty bunch of mostly strangers.
There’s just too much nasty stuff on display. Too much hair and skin, too many veins, spots and so on, and no matter how we try to keep as much distance between us as possible, it’s still too bloody close. While Pete and I get on well, I don’t want to be around his bits and pieces and I’m sure he’d prefer not to tarry around mine. All of which leads to another problem with gyms: haste.
The desperation one exhibits in the changing room can lead to several errors. Clothes strewn all over the shop, socks inside out, shoes on the wrong feet, shirts incorrectly buttoned, fly left undone. And yet all are understandable in light of the urgency to reduce the time of one’s own public nudity, and that of being in the company of someone else’s. This we all understand, we men of the gym changing room, dangling united in our shame and shyness.
Yet sometimes something happens that goes beyond the pale, and that’s really saying something when you’re as pale as me.
For example, the other evening I arrived home after a hard day’s small business-ing that had included a midmorning session at the gym.
As I changed out of my work clothes, Mrs Informer stared at me with much more interest than has been the case for years.
“They’re not your underpants,” she said, and as I looked down, my mind jolted back to the gym, to the changing room, to the clothes strewn along the bench, to the haste, and to Pete’s locker right next to mine.
Poor, poor Pete, I thought. And lucky, lucky me. At least his underpants were clean.
“I’M ALL FOR FITNESS, SURE, BUT GYMS ARE TERRIBLE PLACES.”