While working out at the gym the other day, as any heterosexual woman single or otherwise would, I began watching the men who were there. As I was quickly moving from one piece of equipment to the other, busily lifting various weights, I realised that most of the men there were spending most of their time just walking around looking at the weights rather than lifting them.

I started watching one man in particular who seemed to be participating in some bizarre workout ritual. He'd stand looking at a piece of equipment for a while, analysing it from all different directions, then casually walk a few metres away. Then, he'd walk back and again stand and look at the equipment for a while. After doing this for a few minutes he'd cautiously approach the equipment, begin lifting the weights, conduct about 5 repititions, and then begin the process all over again.

Does working out require a process of psyching out the equipment that I am unaware of? If you stare at some weights for a long period of time will they somehow give in to you and become easier to lift?

A reply to statsbats....

I'm gonna have a go at explaining this type of behaviour that statbats is talking about. I think that some men may do this if they are lifting particularly heavy weights. They'll do between 5 and 8 reps as is recommended for strength training. In this short space of time their heart rate will shoot up as they strain away. Then when they get to number 8 they may be quite knackered and will therefore want to calm down a bit before they do their next set of reps.

I find myself engaging in this sort of behaviour, although I don't really walk about aimlessly. I either go to the drinking fountain or just stand there waiting for my heart rate to come down again. If the weights are particularly heavy some sort of concentration or focusing or as statbats calls it "psyching out the equipment" does help.

I just thought I'd have a go at explaining this, and anyway, why do women engage in the ritual of spending 90% of their time in the gym on the adductor/abductor machines (the ones where they open and close their legs) you can't spot train people! You wont lose all the cellulite around those areas.

Some guys go to the gym, and they are the fucking shit. I'm the baddest-lookin motherfucker alive, ain't nobody got shit on me. Others are just angry. Angry at themselves, angry at what other people see when they look at them. And then there are some who are there to do some noble work, but they may never get where they're trying to go.

What they all have in common, is that they are all dissatisfied. They may not know it, but they are not happy with something in their lives. You don't go to a place of change unless you want to change something.

Some men wear sweats. Some guys wear shorts. Some wear ridiculous get ups in ridiculous colors. Some men have paid top-dollar for their Nike, Adidas, Reebok products. Others walk in with ragged shoes on their feet and shorts bought from Target.

Some guys lift weights energetically because they see themselves growing in the mirror, others will plod away, sweating and panting and depressed, on treadmills, hoping that they shrink. Some listen to mp3 playlists featuring Ted Nugent or AC DC while they work out. Some prefer the sound of forty-five pound plates clanking against five and ten pound discs and collars and iron making contact with the rubber-matted floor as they train. Some are strong, hardy 40 year old men who will put you to fucking shame. Others are not. Some are five-ten, two hundred ten pound college athletes. Then there are the five-ten, one hundred forty pound college hipsters.

Some of these guys look like they know what they're doing when in actuality they don't. A few of them look like they don't know, when they do. Some of them want a big chest. Some of them want toned arms. Some of them want a hulking back. Their movements reflect their wishes. The guy doing bicep curls could possibly (by a long shot) be rehabbing a torn bicep tendon, but is probably trying to impress a girl he doesn't know or bring the fire back to a girl he does know. The guy benching with dumbbells spends his time looking in the bathroom mirror flexing his pecs. He is probably a narcissistic fuck, but that's OK. At least he's honest with himself.

All of these guys know the feeling of superiority. They've all seen the kid who walks in and can barely bench the bar - I used to be that kid. I feel sorry for him. These same guys also know what it's like to be completely humbled: the two hundred sixty pound behemoth who once back squatted six hundred, deep, with just a belt, they have all seen some freak doing his thing. Some of them rationalize that roids aren't worth it. At least I've got a bigger dick. Some of them harbor dreams of one day showing the fuckers up. I can be as good as them one day.

Some stare at the weights they are lifting with a quiet intensity when they are resting. Some are serious. They are overcoming a challenge. Other guys are sociable and talkative in between their rituals. They are not so serious. They are having fun. Some guys are loud when they lift weights. Sometimes they have a legitimate reason to be loud. Other times they don't. In any case, the severity of their game faces do not share a mathematical relationship to their success as gym goers.

Some men try to be helpful to the women in the gym. Sometimes they are annoying. That's dangerous, you should be careful, trust me, I would know. Sometimes they are actually helpful. Keep the knees pointed out, sport. Some guys ignore the girls. What the fuck are they doing here anyway. Some guys pretend to ignore the girls, but grope them optically through mirrors. They are all desperately in love, in one way or another.

Some of these guys go home to kids and a wife. Sometimes the wife likes what the guy is doing. Sometimes the wife points out the gut that stubbornly persists despite all that hard work, but it's all right honey i still love you. Some guys go home to nothing, either because nothing was there to begin with or because something was there before but is gone now. The gym helps them forget. Some guys look in the mirror when they get home and smile. Others will make excuses. Some of them go home to a protein shake and plans for the next work out. They are invited out with friends, but they decline - "got stuff to do in the morning." They are probably talking about a seven hundred calorie breakfast.

At the end of the night they all hope for a better tomorrow.

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