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