A Beginner's Guide To Going Back To The Gym

So I started this thing about a month and a half ago called "exercise". It's nuts, you just go and run on things and every now and then lift some stuff, and it turns out then you don't feel like shit all the time. While the bottle of wine and wheel of brie cheese was really working out for me with the ladies, I figured maybe I should try a little harder (hey, brie...I miss you. Don't worry, I'll drunk dial you one of these nights and ask if you want to just hook up without feelings...say yes...). So here's the thing though, and I think most of you will agree with me: the gym, especially when you haven't been for a while (cough cough 2-4 YEARS cough cough), is like a club you aren't a part of and you need a manual to even go about your business without pissing someone off or learning how to even (GASP) enjoy it. Since I'm a pro now after a whopping 1/12 of a year in attendance, I thought I'd break it down for you, so you won't have to be as scared as I was. The gym is a great place to pick up women.

So I kept wondering why all the hot girls weren't in the "I'm depressed" section of the grocery store I was in (re: wheel of cheese section). Turns out they are at the gym because they exercise, and that's why they are good looking. So the fact that you are even there trying? You just beat out half the male population in the "I would sleep with that guy" category. Do I have statistical evidence to back this up, even empirical evidence of my own? No. No I do not. But assuming is a great way to go about things. That's why everyone likes wikipedia: I'd rather just assume everything everyone ever says is probably true because I don't have any knowledge pertaining to said subject myself. Just go with it. And hey, that's why the internet is great: if someone says something, it just got logged into google, and now you'll search for it, and now because it is on the internet, it's true. Welcome to the internet!

Bottom line: there are just a lot of good looking women at the gym. And I go to a gym that resembles a prison in Indiana, so I can't even imagine what those "people with money" gyms are like. Just smile and run. Odds are you just beat out that girl's boyfriend who's home smoking pot right now in the "possible future mate" category.

(editor's side note: feel free to smoke pot when you get home. They have no idea that you're the "I go to the gym to substantiate my horrible habits" guy, and she won't figure that out for like, MONTHS)

The gym is a horrible place to pick up women.

Guys go to the gym because they think they'll get jacked after pushing two levers on a machine with a weight on it, girls will in turn see this, and will automatically sleep with them after he creepily stares at them while they run on a treadmill. Girls are at the gym for a few reasons: either they are in a horrible relationship with a guy and he only likes her when she's fit, she wants to look better than her other friends so she's not "that" friend that other girls hang out with to look better themselves, or she is getting good looking to hook up with some guy who she has a gigantic thing for (hint: his name isn't "you"). They think most guys at their gym just smell bad and that's about it. She's not interested in you. Let down, I know.

The meatheads are the nicest guys at the gym.

You know that guy with like, a strap around his arm tied to an unidentified old milk gallon that has the label torn off and is now filled with an odd fizzy orange drink that is probably steroids or something GNC sells called "MUSCLE EATER" or "ADFDSLKJ KILL PEOPLE WHEN YOU DRINK THIS WITH YOUR MUSCLES!"? Turns out he's actually a big old teddy bear and is the most polite guy in the room. Don't be afraid of him, just think of him like a bear in the wild: you're on his turf, and he won't fuck with you if you don't fuck with him. In fact, if you ask him questions or let him go ahead of you? He'll probably smile and turn out to be a really nice guy. That metaphor in some ways doesn't work, because I think if you say, "hey bear, this is your forest, just go ahead!" it eats you or mames you anyways. Again, I have no evidence of this, I've just watched a lot of cartoons and shows on the discovery channel where a guy thinks he's cool with bears, and it turns out he's not and they eat him. Go figure, the grizzly bear didn't want to hang out and high five.

There is always someone fatter than you, take solace in that.

That first time you go back to the gym is horrific. You are out of shape, you look confused...it's like having sex for the first time: you're just flailing around and hoping no one calls you out on the fact that you have no idea what you are doing. But here's the thing: there is always someone who looks worse than you and is trying EVEN less than you are. Feels good, right? Use that. And don't tell me you feel bad using someone else's shortcomings to make yourself feel better. You're fibbing. Embrace it and judge away. You look okay. At least better than that guy.

Bring a towel. And wipe down your fucking machine.

Gyms apparently can't afford air conditioning. So when you run really fast and lift heavy things that in turn make you accidentally make weird noises, you sweat. If you are like me and apparently have a gland problem, this happens a lot. When you are done with your machine, someone will want to use that machine, and they probably don't want to see what it's like to rub their hands all over what you have left behind. Think about it like this: you just had sex in a bed, and you just walked away and said, "hey I'm all done here, bed's all yours!" See? That's fucking nasty. Just wipe the goddamn machine down.

Only fat people go in the hot tub or the sauna.

This has got to be like some unwritten rule, but it stands up no matter what gym I've ever been to: only fat people go in the hot tub or the sauna. You know when you were joining the gym, and you thought, "oh great! a spa and a sauna..I bet we all just sit in there and it's like spring break, because i'll be fit with other fit people in there!" NO. This is not true. You know who's in there? The huge hairy guy, and that woman in a one piece who looks like she may have been in there since that morning. They are mouth breathers, they creepily just go back and forth from side to side, and you'll feel like you're in the intro to a creepy porn. Do not, in any situation, go into either of these. It's not like spring break where it's a bunch of drunk girls who are just waiting for ANYONE who can make even a half hearted joke to sleep with...it's gross people who you'd be scared of in a dark alley. This will never change. Give up on that hope.

That guy farted next to you.

Yes, that just happened. People have bodily functions, and can't seem to control them in a gym. It's not going to smell good. So just accept that yes, that guy next to you just farted, and breath out of your mouth for a while. I'm sorry. Also, it could be "that girl". Sad truth #8,482 of the world that guys refuse to believe: girl's fart. Probably just as much as you do. Sorry. They have to poop sometimes, too. I know they are attractive and smell like delicious most of the time, but she probably has to fart sometimes too.

Yes, that guy is using the hand dryer to dry off his junk in the locker room.

Saw this about a month ago. You are going to see some weird things in the locker room. If I were you, I'd just never shower at the gym and try to get in and out of the locker room as fast as humanly possible. You will see things that your eyes will never be able to take back. Hair. Weird towel routines. Just...a lot of "no". Shower at home. You're not homeless, so don't act like the shower at the gym is FINALLY going to be the thing that gets you to work out during your lunch break. It won't. Who honestly wants to bathe in a place that you have to wear footwear in, so as to NOT catch a disease? Is this not a red flag for a bathing facility?

Use that machine that makes you look...kind of not heterosexual.

So you know how frat guys and bro's are always all about "rippin their bi's and tri's and tearing up their back"? That's cool, and I applaud them. The type of girl you want probably doesn't want the guy who looks like he might have Chris Brown tendencies if you use the last of the milk, though. Here's a fact (blanket statement alert): you know who usually look REALLY good and REALLY fit? Gay guys. Because they actually give a shit what they look like. This is in turn why so many girls just want to "go to a gay dance club and DANCE, girl!" So whatever machine that attractive gay dude is using at the gym? Use it. It's working.

(editor's note #2: this is a self serving paragraph as I'm worried I'm judged every time I step on the stair master. PEOPLE ON THOSE THINGS LOOK REALLY GOOD. I'M OKAY WITH IT.)

Don't do yoga at 24 Hour Fitness.

There is a reason there are places people do yoga and only yoga: because at the "yoga" store, they know how to do yoga. Like, really well. It'd be like if McDonald's tried to start selling you car stereo's: it'd just be awkward, and you kind of just went there for the mcnuggets. If you are doing yoga at the gym, you should worry about the fact that you're going to stop going to the gym in about...wait you already stopped going. Just run. It's a fucking gym, not a pilates studio.

And lastly...

Don't be the guy who's creeping everyone out while air drumming and singing lyrics to the song on your iPod.

Sorry. I just really like that song.

Drew Hoolhorst

San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

I have a black belt in feelings.