A few of the people you'll meet at the gym ... pants not optional

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJuly 31, 2013 

I am a people-watcher.

Yes, it's creepy, but I find endless entertainment in observing my fellow human beings and taking note, not unlike a zoologist studies chimps, of how my fellow humans make decisions and generally interact with the world around them.

And for this exercise, there are few environments richer than the gym, though the beach, airport and Disney World also provide ample people-watching opportunities.

But it's at the gym where you get to see, first-hand, the way people try, sometimes in vain, to firm that doughy physique, overcome their unfortunate genetics or participate in exercise that, while likely of little physiological benefit, sure is fun to watch.

The gym is the front-line of man's battle against aging, death, disease and love handles.

And it has a most colorful cast of characters.

There's the guy who seems to go to the gym simply to hang out and chat with others of his ilk. I mean, I can think of a better place to talk about who is going to win the SEC this year than in a slightly smelly room surrounded by a bunch of sweaty, red-faced people, but to each his own.

There's the compulsive exerciser who you see at the gym regardless of what time of day you're there. This person seems unaware that, statistically, your chances of disease and death are nearly identical, and that too much exercise can actually be detrimental to one's health. But hey, those pull-ups sure are impressive.

There's the gymgoer who stretches forever in preparation for exercise that seems never to happen.

And that's not including the ... well, colorful scene in the locker room, which plays host to a daily and ongoing competition among mostly elderly men about who can have the longest conversation about the most inane topics whilst completely nude.

I can't speak to what goes on in the women's locker room, especially after that recent court order, but I'm guessing it's a somewhat tamer scene than the septuagenarian nude-off happening with the fellas.

For example, I rounded the corner of the locker room on a recent afternoon to see an older gentleman meticulously combing his hair, wearing a fashionable polo shirt and absolutely nothing else.

What was that post-shower inner monologue like?

"What a great workout. OK, looks like we're all dried off. I really love this shirt. All right, where's that comb? Man, I can't shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something. Did they crank up the A/C in here today? Sure feels chilly. Oh, well. To the mirror, we go!"

Or, what about the gentleman who tried to strike up a conversation with me about my beloved alma mater (and his, it turned out) Indiana University while stark naked?

Listen, sir, I'm happy to talk about the state of IU football and the '68 Rose Bowl team but I'm going to need you to gear up first.

Such are the myriad sounds, smells and bizarre, nightmare-inducing sights you're likely to encounter at your local gym.

This week, in honor of the gym, a playlist of eight songs to help get you through your workout.

I'm beginning to think some of those locker room guys are allergic to pants -- or public decency.

  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, "Ten Thousand Hours" -- Hard not to love a song that references Malcolm Gladwell, David Bowie, Kanye West, Jean-Michel Basquiat, M.C. Escher and Keith Haring.

  • Jay Z, "Holy Grail feat. Justin Timberlake" -- One of the few gems on the otherwise disappointing "Magna Carta Holy Grail." Anyone else wishing Jay Z really would have called it quits with "The Black Album?"

  • A$AP Rocky, "Wild for the Night feat. Skrillex and Birdy Nam Nam" -- Starts off a little slow but really builds into a blood-bumping, dubstep-fueled crescendo courtesy of electronic music superstar Skrillex.

  • Chris Brown, "Bassline" -- Heard this song on a recent episode of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance?," and it's led nearly every workout I've had since.

  • Capital Cities, "Safe and Sound" -- A song certain to put a spring in your step.

  • Youngblood Hawke, "We Come Running" -- Joyous, fun and loud. The perfect combination for a good workout song.

  • The Hours, "Ali in the Jungle" -- Not sure how you could neglect to include a song with the lyrics "Everybody gets knocked down/How quick are you gonna get up?" from a workout mix.

  • Cusses, "Don't Give In" -- Every workout mix needs a hard-charging, rock song and this Savannah band brings it harder than most.

  • Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

    FOR MORE COLUMNS BY PATRICK DONOHUE

    "This year's 'Song of the Summer' declaration might bring much-deserved attention to worthwhile artists"

    "Look beyond the gimmicky and offensive to find rap music that actually has a soul"

    "When did people start bringing their living rooms to the beach?"

    "A eulogy that came way too soon"

    "Is Darius Rucker's country music career a serious thing or is he mocking his fans?"

    "Once you experience loss, you'll never forget the real reason behind Memorial Day"

    "There are many things I don't understand, including barefoot running shoes"

    "Are you one of the five people we'll meet on Facebook?"

    "What's so great about dogs? No really ... what?"

    The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

    Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service