This is a story from my gym going days. I was 18 (maybe 19) at the time and I tell the story as it happened. In it, I get some exposure I am not expecting.
I had a long day at work, which was really a normal day because all of my workdays on the construction site are long. Construction work, especially the kind of construction I do, is one of those professions were you need to take a shower before you go to the gym. So after 10 hours of pushing dirt around with the old John Deere 550 bulldozer; after 10 hours ingesting diesel fumes; after 10 hours of taking a dust bath courtesy of the Santa Clarita, California winds it was time to head home for my pre-workout procedures.
Journey to the Gym – Detour #1: The Apartment.
I head for home, red light, after green light, after yellow light, after freeway overpass, after yellow light, after red light, after freeway underpass, after red light, after (another stinkin’) red light. After the daily 12-round fight with California Traffic (which I enter as the 40:1 underdog regularly) is finally over, I am home, sort of. I look for a parking space on the street of the apartment complex because apparently whoever designed this place figured only every third resident would own a vehicle. One bonus of being a heavy equipment operator is that after driving big machinery all day parking a little Ford Ranger is like parking a bicycle. I parallel park the truck into a Geo Metro-sized spot (yeah, Geo Metro – it’s 1998).
A truck door slam, a quick hike through the apartment complex, and home I am at 6:00. Barely time for chitchat with the roommates, and then it’s time for my first shower of the day: The 3-minute Dust Removal Rinse. This is just a quick, wash-the-dirt-off-and-soap-the-important-parts shower. No need put forth a full shower effort when I’m about to get sweaty before the hour is over. Dried and toweled off I put on my gym gear, nothing fancy, I roll Rocky style. I check my gym bag. Towel, check. Sweat towel, check. Sandals, check. Water bottle, check. Gym card, check. Swim shorts in case there is a Jacuzzi. Okay, let’s roll.
Bye to the roommates, hike back to the truck (I think these short hikes count as cardio), get all four cylinders fired up on the Ranger, and I’m off for a drive-thru dinner.
Gym detour #2: The drive-thru
Oh, how my pre-workout meals have changed from age 18 to my mid-thirties. How come back then I could slam down cheeseburgers like they were going out of style and still have a six-pack?
Metallica blaring – because there is no better way to show how hard-core you are at age 18 then to share your car stereo music with anyone in a 5-mile radius – I pull into the drive-thru. “A number one, grilled onions, with a Coke please.” If you live on the West Coast and you are reading this, your mouth just watered.
“Will you be eating this in your car?”
I get my box of food with addictive aroma steam so strong that I go into instant ravenous wolf-mode. I find a parking space and wolf the burger down. I pull out a map (for you younger readers, this is what we used before GPS) to be sure I know where the gym is at. I get a little French fry grease on the map as I look for the cross streets. Okay, it’s right around the corner. This is my first time going to this particular gym. I have a nationwide club membership that gets me into any gym in the country, which is nice when you are someone that moves around a lot. Fries are now vanished, and I suck down my pre-workout Coke.
I head down a couple of blocks and see the giant blue and red neon sign. Not bad. This is barely a 5-minute drive from the apartment, minus the detour. I pull into the parking lot. It’s packed –of course, 6:40 p.m. on a weekday – but there are still some open parking spaces. The apartment’s parking space designer guy could have learned a thing or two from this wondrous display of open, available spots – even during gym rush hour.
Onward to the workout
I check in, I check it out. It’s a nice gym. Clean. New. Fancy equipment. No funky gym odor. There is even this crazy high-altitude simulation room that has a few pieces of cardio equipment in it so you can train like you are exercising in the mountains – without the pristine landscape and smell of pine of course. I won’t use any of that today though, the parking lot hikes were enough. I go put my gym bag in the locker room and get ready. Time to workout.
With the workday officially behind me, the real work, the fun work begins. I spend the next 75 minutes doing what I love – throwing heavy weights around, and listening to KROQ on my radio headphones. Metallica, Social Distortion, Pennywise, Devo, and Violent Femmes songs ring in my ears successively as move through bench presses, dumbbell presses, cable machines, and even some pushups for good measure. Though the place is packed – well, busy, not packed, it’s not post-New Year’s or anything – I’m in a zone. Fueled by fast food, sugar, caffeine, and adrenaline, I work out undistracted with sounds of rock and roll drowning out the crappy gym music. I hit it hard today. Muscles damaged (in a good way). After over an hour of testosterone clashing with iron, I’m done. Ahhh.
I make my way back to the locker room, checking out the late-teen to twenty-something ladies on the way. There’s a few that are pretty good-looking. I pass on trying to pick up any phone numbers tonight – I am ready to check out the sauna and/or steam room – actually, wait, is there a sauna or steam room here? There must be. This gym is fancier than the one I had been going to back in my hometown. I walk into the locker and see a sign with an arrow: “SAUNA” right above the word “STEAM ROOM”. Yes!
I take shower number 2 of 3 for the day, an even quicker episode than the standard 3-minute Dust Removal Rinse. 3 showers in one day might seem excessive, and believe me, I do this not for my own pleasure, but out of respect for fellow gym goers. I don’t think anyone should have to share the dust from my job site on the gym floor, and I try to minimize the amount of sweat and grime I carry with me into the steam room or sauna. You’re welcome.
Indecent Exposure. Almost, I think.
If you have never been in the men’s locker of a big gym, let me describe the 3 types of men you will find in the locker room:
The Let it Fly Guy. No shame. He walks around naked. Everywhere. Disrobes, walks to the sink to shave, takes a dump, showers, and then returns to the locker for a brief towel-off, then drops the towel before he watches SportsCenter for 5 minutes to air out. This is the type of guy that swings over to the sauna – no towel necessary.
The Shy Guy. Always covered – either in a towel or a swimsuit. He might even wear a shirt into the sauna. Keeps a towel around his waist and slides his undergarments on after the shower so no one will ever see a thing.
The In-between Guy. Not afraid of being nude in the locker room for a moment, but generally stays covered up. He will comfortably drop the towel to change his clothes or when drying off after a shower, but that’s it. No big deal. Just standard locker room etiquette.
I fall into the 3rd category. So after the quick-rinse shower I wrap up in my towel to head over to the sauna. At this point I’m spent. I have been up since 4:30 a.m., it is now a quarter past 8, and it feels like midnight. I walk in the direction the sign points me noticing that this locker room is laid out a little differently than the gym back home. The sauna and steam room are at the end of a hallway separated from the main locker area. I see a fogged-up glass door at the end of the hall and I make my way down in a bit of a mind fog of my own. I open the door and my towel begins to slip a little, so I go to open it and pull it back tight – OH $#&%! Women! And a few men too. Now I have a dozen, no, half-dozen, no, – I don’t know – several men and women looking at me oddly with no words, only eyes that say, “What the heck are you thinking dude???”
Startled, and now clenching an unwrapped towel to my bare skin, I frantically try to get it wrapped back up without showing anything. Did they see anything? Did I open it all the way? No. I don’t think so. Crap.
“This, is a co-ed area sweetie,” a dark-haired forty-something lady with a scorpion tattoo on her shoulder says aloud.
“I’m sorry,” I belt out quickly as I retreat back through the fogged-up door. What the heck! There should be some sort of sign that says “Co-ed.” There should be something! Then I see it. Plain as day. A sign right beside the fogged-up glass door. “Co-ed sauna and swim area. Proper swim attire required.” Apparently I missed it while walking half-asleep down the – oh, duh, that’s why there’s a long hallway separating the sauna. Ugh. Okay, that was enough excitement – I’ll just call it a day.
I get dressed now. Shake my head at myself for a minute. Then I just laugh. A do-over would be cool right about now. God? Please? A do-over? Well, I guess not. Time to head home.
I get back to the apartment. “How was your workout?” my roommate says.
Time for my 3rd shower. My post-gym, post-workout, regular old shower. No need to worry about being brought up on indecent exposure charges here. Good night.
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