Exercising My Patience

It’s 6.30pm on a dismal Monday night and I’m circling the car park at the gym trying to find somewhere to park. Problem is, there is nowhere to park. Out of 250 parking bays, not a single one is free.

This is because the gym has become overrun by sanctimonious gym-goers, hellbent on toning up their blamangey bottoms after an extended period of grave overindulgence and gluttony (me included!). By March, this madness will be over. But for now, the chaos continues.

In the end, I parked in the only free parking bay left: a ‘mother and baby’ space, while glancing anxiously around, should a wild-haired earth mom appear out of the bushes to berate me. I figured nobody would be bringing their baby to the gym at this late hour. But post-Christmas, anything is possible.

I’ve always thought that the gym attracts some of stranger members of society. But January brings with it a whole new species of treadmill-pounding peculiarities.

First up, it’s the teenagers. The place is overrun with them. There they are… clogging up the running machines in their Superdry togs: chatting, flirting, giggling and typing on their iPhones – basically doing anything except actually breaking into a sweat.

A teenager on the cross-trainer next to me yesterday – all glossy hair and Sweaty Betty attire – clambered on board and started slowly moving up and down on Level 1. Level 1, for those of you who have yet to make the acquaintance with a cross-trainer, basically involves as much exertion as passing wind.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for healthy habits at a young age but seriously what are they all doing here? Shouldn’t they be swigging bottles of Kiwi-flavoured 20-20 on a park bench somewhere?! The idea of running on a cross-trainer, aged 14, wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. 

Teenagers aside, I’ve begun to develop an irrational irritation for one particular woman who is constantly hogging one of the special cross-trainers that I like to go on (there’s only two of them in the whole gym). This grey-haired, bespectacled being seems to spend half her life slowly moving up and down on it. 6.30am in the morning, she’s there. 6.30pm in the evening, she’s still there. I even went at 8pm the other night and she was STILL there.

The dotty old dear wears a knitted jumper and spends hours playing solitaire on the cross-trainer’s built-in computer screen, peddling away in an infuriatingly slow manner (Level 1, no doubt). No sane person would come to the gym simply to play solitaire – or wear a knitted jumper on a cross-trainer, for that matter.

I’ve begun to scowl at her and make a ‘harrumphing’ sound as I pass. She hasn’t registered this (too engrossed in Solitaire) but it makes me feel slightly better.

Further infuriation can be found in the swimming pool, where a whole clutch of glacially-slow swimmers seem to have descended in the mornings, feebly traversing the pool like gormless goldfish – doing breast stroke and extending their delicate necks so as not to get their hair wet (anyone who attempts to go swimming without getting their hair wet is, in my eyes, ridiculous. Sorry mum).

They are seemingly oblivious to the unwritten etiquette of the pool. ie. Don’t clog up the fast lane; don’t meander across the pool in front of those coming up behind you; and – above all – DON’T TREAT SWIMMING AT THE GYM LIKE A LEISURELY DIP IN SPAIN.

And then there’s the gross changing room habits: people who patrol up and down completely naked with absolutely no modicum of modesty whatsoever. Granted, I’m a total prude but there’s no way I’d casually wander around the changing rooms starkers.

Boys, shield your eyes now, but I once witnessed one of these nudists nonchalantly lift up one leg and insert something, ahem, intimate in an intimate place – in full view of everyone.

And only yesterday morning, there was another naked woman, one leg extended up on the counter, proudly exposing her front bottom to the world, as she feverishly dried her toes – with a hairdryer.

At the gym, it seems, there is no decorum left.