There’s a yoga class at my gym. I am aware that this should cause me to find a new gym immediately but I have my reasons for staying. I hit the gym mid-morning so I can get it done for the day and not have to wait to use the squat rack. There are only a few of us in the gym that use the squat rack and most of those guys are around before or after work.
(Indecently, if you go to the gym but you don’t squat then you don’t go to the gym as far as I’m concerned. And my concerns count, man.)
Mid-morning is also the time when the yoga classes are scheduled. The class is made up of women, gay men, and older guys who haven’t exercised for their entire lives but are panicking now that the edge of mortality is beginning to creep its way into their vision.
I think that the old men in the gym who are only there because they are afraid to die is the saddest sight of all, sadder even than the post 40 Botox brigade. These guys are all flabby and frail, and they each enlist a personal trainer to help them through the process. Most of them go for one of the female trainers for obvious reasons, which makes the spectacle even sadder. Hitting the gym for the first time in your life in your mid-sixties is probably one of the greatest trials of futility imaginable.
It would be somewhat understandable if these guys were following a true strength building program, like the Starting Strength program or the five by five. But they’re not; they’re either following the dinky-dye bullshit weights program that the personal trainer give them, or they’re doing yoga.
Yoga is not exercise. Period. If done correctly, and nobody in a gym is doing yoga correctly, yoga is exercise for the mind. I practiced yoga for about five years back in the nineties so I know what I’m talking about. It has its benefits but it is not exercise. At all. Not even a little bit.
If you don’t sweat from exertion or pant from fatigue then you haven’t been exercising. Walking down the street is more exercise than doing an entire yoga class. And yet these guys come out of the class flushed with satisfaction that they are doing the right thing. That they have got the old ticker beating just that little bit faster. That maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to see the grandkiddies hit puberty.
Sometimes I briefly consider saying something. I could point out to them one of the true strength training programs that would actually make a difference. But they wouldn’t believe me and even if they did it would just piss off whichever clueless personal trainer was working with them. Fuck me the trainers are useless. I see people in the gym all the time who have the most terrible form and yet these trainers just breeze past without a second glance.
Or what about the obvious new guy in the gym? You know the one; he’s barely eighteen, scrawny as all get out, and has decided to “get in shape”. So he comes at a quiet time so he doesn’t feel too self conscious and he spends an hour wandering from machine to machine with a confused look that is so obvious due to his attempts to hide it. He’ll sit at the cable row and do a few pulls, and then he’ll wander over to some leg press and do a few little presses, and then he’ll wander here, and wander there, and pretty soon I just want to kill myself.
A few times I do speak up. I spoke to this young kid the other day. My opening line was, “You don’t know what you’re doing, do you.” It’s the best line because if they arc up then I know that I can stop right there and go back to what I was doing. This kid didn’t though. He looked sheepish and nodded. I told him to give me his phone and I found one of the sites that I mentioned earlier. “Follow that,” I said. I then named the one trainer in the gym that has half a clue and told him to see that guy for form issues.
The trainer thanked me the next week. Turns out the kid had signed up with him. But nobody who works at the gym was going to do it themselves. They’d just walk past this struggling kid without a second glance. And people wonder why their businesses fail.
As for yoga, if I see the kid in the class I’ll yank him out of there. If you’re going to dedicate time in the gym then make it count. Jerking off isn’t sex but it feels good and you can kid yourself into believing that it is. Same with yoga.