Glancing down at the readout I notice, with some dismay, that I’ve still got 4 minutes left. I glance around me, at the huffing man on the treadmill, the two girls gossiping whilst idly spinning the wheels on their bikes, and a middle-aged woman staring in bewilderment at the exercise sheet she is holding.
And then my gaze carries over to where the muscle boys are. Bedecked in their uniforms of vest tops and jogging bottoms they silently grimace and sweat, methodically lowering and raising dumbbells. They don’t talk, preferring to stare at themselves in the large mirrored wall, the only noise is the occsional heavy clank of metal.
Finally I finish on the bike and swap a few pleasantries with one of the staff. The middle-aged woman is pondering which machine to use next, so I politely enquire if I may use the rowing machine and we swap pleasantries about how knackered we are and how, yes it must be making a difference, mustn’t it?
I don’t go to the gym for the small talk, but it does help. I sometimes wonder if I should be more like the gym hounds, silent in concentration, focussed on the reason they are at the gym. There is a strange zen-like quality to their workouts, their notebooks scribbled inbetween sets, the precision of their movements, the repetition.
But I’m wary of such obsession, it’s not healthy. I used to work with a couple of guys who spent a lot of time in the gym, drank protein drinks and all the rest. They talked about it a lot, to the point of being boring.
Perspective is a wonderful thing, innit.