Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chronic Habitual Avoidance Behaviour (CHAB or CHABing)

It is grey, miserable and raining steadily here. Which is why one is sitting writing rather than at the gym... the thought of sloshing through the puddles and waiting in the leaking bus shelter was just... meh, even the most dedicated have off days. Besides, He offered one an orgasm (and very nice it was too) and an afternoon nap as inducement to play hooky. Anyway one can always get up early tomorrow morning and go before work.

The gym is an interesting place to visit at different times occasionally. The clientele change and morph as the sun travels across the horizon. Early mornings are the time of the super fit. You see men and women who look like whippets, all long lean muscle and agile speed, pounding away with effortless grace. It is when the serious competition level body builders come out; men and women with skimpy clothing, slightly freakish fake tans and fat levels so low that you have to check if that is a six or eight pack you are seeing.

Mid morning is the time of the yummy mummies and their fake nails, dazzling smiles and designer gear, clustering noisily on the X-Trainers while they wait for the real event, classes, to start. They give way to the assortment of stragglers, people who work odd times and days who are usually there to run or work out with personal trainers (PT’s) more than anything else. About three o’clock the site workers come in, some still in work boots and safety vests, to fluff up their biceps to better show off their tribal inspired tats.

They give way to the latest phenomena in the gym, the adolescent teenage boy. A recent addition to the gym and one often suspects the newest victims of The Beauty Myth as it casts its net wider. Personally one thinks it is admirable that they are taking an interest in their bodies, but one does wish the trainers kept a closer eye on them. They are reckless and bold, often over extending their young bodies as they push to get too big too fast, and some of them have the stretch marks to prove it. That last group one can’t help but look at and wonder what will happen to them as they age.

In the early evening you get the after work groups. They are squeezing in some running before a class or working out with a PT either singly or in small groups. It is in this time zone you will most likely find the women with their one kilo weights struggling to push it above their heads, while the men do strength and balance exercises nearby. It is also amongst the struggle for space there is that one woman who insists on doing her yoga poses and resting under her towel as people have to hop across her to get to the medicine balls.... see this is how you get injured doing yoga... you make like the family pet at dinner time.

Interspersed amongst these groups most often mid morning, early afternoon and on weekends are the most interesting group of them all; the peacocks’ one always thinks of as The Big Boys. As a group they are usually older and have been doing it a long time. In  a gym they are easy to spot as they often sport the most outrageous coloured sports shoes... bright canary yellow to complement the natural deep tan... it helps distract you from the fact that they have just added about 20% muscle mass to their frames. They are the ones that spend at least two hours doing a work out, of which only about 15 minutes is actually spent doing serious exercise. The rest of the time is spent lounging against machines artistically, while they swap diet and supplement tips and discuss the merit of cheesecake as a bulking aid with the younger members.

Of all the groups they are the most friendly and gregarious. How else are they going to be seen if not by parading casually around? They will come up to you to tell you your form is getting better, make suggestions on how to maximise an exercise you are doing and help move a bit of equipment if you are struggling. The Big Boys are also the ones who will let you nip in and use a piece of gear in between their sets as they rarely train in tandem with anyone, because despite the tendency towards friendliness, they never get too close to each other.

They know each other, talk to each other,  trade stories and gossip, acknowledge each other from the other side of the room with a friendly wave and a nod, but they keep a very large area of personal space from each other.  You never see them clustered in close proximity or spotting each other. In fact they go to almost ridiculous lengths to not get too close. But then as they have just added that much muscle mass, at that age, there is probably a reason for the high levels of cautious deference you see being displayed.

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