Kiss My Bicep (or, "How It Feels to Be Gymtimidated")

I joined a gym. There aren't a lot of mirrors at the gym I joined, so I thought it might be the kind of gym where people exercise and not the kind of gym where people admire themselves in the mirror. Because I'm not the kind of person that admires himself in the mirror. In public. In my own bathroom mirror, it turns out I'm actually quite admirable, particularly if I squint so you can't tell I have a lazy eye, and if I don't smile so you can't see my snaggleteeth, if I wear a blanket over my head so you can't see my head, and if the mirror is only from the neck up so you can't see my Goodwill clothes.

The Clinton Curtis Band is gymtimidating. 2014.
I've always loathed gym franchises. This is because one time when I was in college and I was waiting in line to buy tickets to a football game, a dude was going down the line with a clipboard, trying to get people to join Gold's Gym. When he got to me, he looked my scrawny bod up and down and said, "You look like you might want to work out." And I was like, "Nah, I'm good." And he goes, "Dude, why do you hate your body?" And I said, "I hate my body because it's not roundhouse kicking you in the neck right now." And that was the end of our relationship.

But a month or two ago I joined a gym near my house because it's one of those feel-good gyms. Like you can't yell at people for being weak sauce, and you can't make loud grunting noises while you lift barbells, and you can't kiss your own bicep. However, I believe it's acceptable to kiss someone else's bicep. Closed mouthed. To preserve the feel-good-ness.

The feel-good vibe draws an eclectic crowd. Once, there was this really, really old guy sitting at one of the weight machines that I wanted to use. Just sitting there motionless. I was like, "Well, homeboy's resting between sets, I'll do something else for awhile." But then ten minutes later he was still in the same position, unmoving, and I thought, "I wonder if, while lifting, that guy pulled something, like, his aorta." When I went home he was still there, but when I came back the next day he was gone, so maybe he got embalmed.

There is this rule that is plastered all over the walls of the gym, and on the sides of the weight machines. It is: "No Gymtimidation." This means you can't walk around the gym and go up to people and say things like, "I dislike you," or "I'm going to push you onto the floor right now, probably," or "You suck, like, big time." Also, it means you can't even be wordlessly intimidating, like by standing there and not smiling, or by walking swiftly and with purpose.

But not everyone follows the No Gymtimidation rule. Once, a lady walked by me with a shirt that said "Go Big or Go Home" and I felt gymtimidated. But I didn't know how I could respond without being gymtimidating myself. For instance, saying "Excuse me, but your shirt makes me feel insignificant," has the obvious subtext of "I'm considering keying your car." Similarly, simply getting up and walking away is clearly a nonverbal way of saying, "I passed gas where you're standing and I don't feel bad about it." So, although I like the No Gymtimidation vibe, I find it hard to fully abide.