There are a number of reasons why people are often surprised that I go to the gym. Many friends from my past remember me only for single-handedly breaching the maximum occupancy of an elevator, or clandestinely trying to eat their first born child when their back was turned. To these far-flung acquaintances, the concept of my setting foot inside a fitness establishment is as unlikely as Henry VIII winning an Olympic decathlon.
Then there are guys who brandish my eligible bachelorhood as a challenge to my gymnasial veracity. A certain faction of men staunchly promulgate that the gym is the ultimate venue in which to pull women. If I do indeed attend the gym, either I must have met an interested female party there, or elsewhere as a direct result of my testosterone-engorged pythons. I must secrete hormonal nectar from between my pectorals and ensnare women like a Venus fly trap. They simply will not believe me when I tell them that, despite visiting the gym 4-5 times a week for well over a year now, the only thing I will ever pull there is a herniated disc.
An inherent flaw taints the logic that the gym is a prime locale for attracting a mate. Before exercise has even been flirted with there’s the simple fact that I will never look my best at 6.30 in the morning. Then as the session progresses, any flex of a picayune bicep is swiftly equipoised by the dark circles of sweat that spread from various recesses like a body odour fallout zone. Some cite mirrors as an excellent means of catching a lady’s eye. This is not of benefit when cursed with a weight-lifting face like I’m giving birth to my lungs. On the one occasion I did use a mirror to flash a girl my least ominous smile, a snot bubble the size of The Prisoner attack balloon bilged from my nostril and burst in my mouth.
Every gym, at any given time, has its alpha male. He of the premium motley jogging bottoms akin to the engorged hindquarters of a concupiscent baboon. All others step aside to grant him his lord’s right with the water fountain. While I strain to the top my 3rd rep of the lowest weight imaginable, the alpha bench-presses a suntan-jaundiced groupie on each arm, juggles a clutch of his latest bastard offspring with his well-developed calves, while simultaneously injecting steroids into his hyperbolic track-marked cock.
One day the alpha will be challenged and perish in a tragic spotting ‘accident.’ Until that day, the rest of us must accept that simple comparison highlights us as inferior specimens unworthy of female attention.
I perpetuated this theory when, in passing, one of the female personal trainers complimented my Super Mario t-shirt. There are any number of smooth responses to this opening gambit. For instance, ‘Come over to my place and play on my Wii,’ ‘How’d you like a little Italian in you?’ or, and Mario fans should recognise the true genius here, ‘Do you ever get locked up in castles? ‘Cos baby, you’re a Peach.’ It is my belief that any one of these lines would have resulted in furious love-making against the floor buffer in the cleaner’s cupboard. Instead I just sort of smiled and tugged hopelessly at the door until I realised it said PUSH.
There is nothing I would love to believe more than the gym girl myth. For many years, I believed that if I lost weight and developed some muscle, girls would ring-toss their underwear over my head and, once I’d beaten them off with the optimist’s metaphorical stick, use chloroform and a plastic cup to steal my semen as I sleep. Yet now that I have achieved both of those criteria, and still found little success, I must deal with the less glamorous truth: I can grow as much muscle as I like. But it’s all for nothing if my personality doesn’t grow to match.