Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The good news is that I am getting back into shape. My treadmilling has progressed nicely from brisk walking, through jogging, up to running, and it no longer feels like I should be wearing a sports bra as I trot along (the ambition is to work up to a canter, and eventually be able to gallop). The other good news is that, as college is restarting, there will be a healthy injection of gym bodied 18-24 year old girls clad in lycra, spandex and all sorts of other stretchy, sexy materials. Some readers will be offended by the previous sentence and are writing me off as some sort of sad, lonely, dirty thirty-something, and they are right. It did cross my mind that the gym could be used as a great place for meeting women, but until they develop a way to exercise without sweating, I'll stick with going home alone. At the moment I'm unsure as to what constitutes a normal amount of sweating, but having t-shirts with complex Rorschach style patches at the end of a session are truly a sight to behold (I'm an astoundingly symmetrical sweater, hardly an attractive quality, but noteworthy nonetheless). As my academic background involves psychology, it occurred to me that I could use "So what does my sweat stain look like to you?" as a good conversational opener, which would be made even more charming by my heavy breathing and very red face.
The other obstacle is that I'm surrounded by guys who are a good ten years younger than me, and at least fifteen years fitter. As it stands, I'm in good shape for my age and blessed with having all of my hair and teeth. As far as the bell curve goes, I'm nicely in the middle: not overly fit or overly fat. It's just that all those other guys who are always in the gym, look like guys who are always in the gym. Some are so ridiculously muscular that I pity them, others sport the right combination of lean and tone that I hate them. The age rationalisation was played out once: What kind of shape will they be in at my age? Which is a good point, but it suggests that when I was that age, I was in a similar state of physical excellence, which is not entirely true. In my first wave of student days, there wasn't an ounce of fat on me, but this was because of my strict diet of basmati rice, buckfast, and ecstasy rather than any sort of good living.
It really is astounding to see how the other side lives. After a hearty training session in the gym, a group of them will sit in the sauna where they will talk about ... (wait for it) ... training! Occasionally it will meander into protein shakes, but after that brief interlude it will go back into more training talk. One day a group of them were talking about how they spent so many weeks on the doss that semester. At last, my kind of students! Going on the doss is an age-old tradition which involves curling up on the sofa with a duvet and pot noodle, watching daytime television like your life depends on it, taking drugs while spacing out to psychedelic sounds, and reading weighty/wordy books that are not in any way related to your own course work. The most dedicated tale I ever heard of going on the doss involved getting a full-time job for a few weeks just to have a decent wad for rag week. Sadly, for these Adonises, going on the doss meant not going to lectures (hurrah!) and instead spending 3-4 hours working out every day. It wasn't even devil-may-care, free-form working out, it was well-structured, buddy-on-leg day, strict regime of protein shake and carbs, adequate stretching to warm up and cool down working out. What sort of going on the doss is this? If I was hiring people straight out of college, I'm not sure if these are the type I'd want working for me (this probably explains when I am not an important businessman cherry-picking college graduates).
The Dunnes Store's board shorts and Cookie Monster t-shirt that constitute my gym-wear are nearly dry, and my knees are almost unsore enough for another session. Today's flirtatious tactic will involve affixing a bell to the exercise bike so that I can cheekily ding the ladies as they walk past. Last week I used the novel approach of raising an eyebrow and shouting ding in a suggestive manner. For reasons unknown this was seen as neither quirky nor charming, but rather creepy and unsettling. So if I can get through today's workout with only five verbal warnings from the staff, it will be considered something of a victory for me.