Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The reason the Cold War works 


There is peace at the gym despite hormones that would seem to argue otherwise. Testosterone fueled weight lifters don't jump one another when they brush past one another. Two women training and working away their second child might tussle over the nuance between a set and a rep and if you leave for the water fountain what does that mean in terms of ownership of the vacated thigh machine? I have seen this.

Our fearless leaders understand Pervez Musharraf. Military man, wears a suit, keeps a neat mustache, glasses and an orderly haircut without any headdress. They can do business with a man dressed like this. He doesn't crawl on all fours, he sits upright, he keeps his prayer mat stashed at home, wears shoes indoors and can converse with Tim Russert on Sunday mornings, Eastern Standard Time.

Between you, me and this isolateral machine everyone is transparent at the gym. Genetics trumps energy and effort. The biggest of the regulars dress subdued and requires less maintenance at the gym. Those who want to talk about high twitch muscles wear back braces and headbands, sleeveless shirts, and bluetooth headsets from 2005.

I don't do sets I go until I can't move my muscles anymore

I'm trying to rebuild, or just build myself one morning at the gym at a time. No militaristic regime here. I'm going at it haphazard-like. Nothing systematic like eating a tub of ice cream to put some tangible weight on your depression. A little too much office chair sitting and a few too many pizza lunches consumed while walking from kitchen back to the desk. So like the appearance of love handles, some small muscles are peaking through. Woody Allen wisdom - 90% of life is just showing up is turning out to be true.

I'm also gaining respect from the mosly older men there for coming day in and day out before work, in order to do more work. The Boy's Club. These are the new rich, the Porsche and Bentley. These are Local 131 iron workers union dressed in the brotherhood sweatshirt. discreet muscles, big foremans though used to wield rivet guns and haul scrap. These are some old folks too trying to train and sip gatorade with their Lipitor. There are also the infirmed - physically and psychologically - like the guy who needs two canes to walk into the building and presumably same two canes to hoist his way into his two work out outfits. A Bear Sterns Under-Armour style mesh track shirt - "Bulls Run on Wall Street" and a long sleeve cotton number that is a more generic Bear Sterns offering. He can't breathe. His back is bent. He mumbles something like Google while Sportcenter plays on the TVs above the treadmill.

But it's not all bumps on a log, or men - there are the Benazir Bhuttos - serious women ready to dodge landmines and nouveau-fangled I.E.D.s. Witness one ipod commercial of a woman working out. She dances through the gym taunting stationary machines and bikes, pied pipering through the aisles keeping her ample ass respectable in leotards.

There are bodies who have it partially right - who you want to like but are too focused on building isolated strength while ignoring growing masses, tumors - looming. Like this guy stomach pregnant with possibility, but can't see past his cut off shirt and the end of his arm. You fall in routines, sometimes they are the wrong ones.

Familiarity does not breed contempt, it breeds respect. Better the Devil you know. The old immigrant rather than the new.

The familiar war rather than the invisible one. We used to have a phone direct from Washington to the Kremlin to avert crisis.

Trying to piece together the feeling, the need, that landed me in this routine. My tooth was stung by the sugar and the cold in the iced coffee on the way to work - late Spring - and i'm trying to understand how much goes into something like this. I brushed and flossed more vigorously that night and the weeks after, switched from soft bristle to medium and the gums receded. I was told I needed minor surgery and felt like i was falling apart a bit too quickly and joined the gym in June to take care of everything physical that was within my reach to shape.

What causes all of this? The amount of ankle showing through a garment?

A hair dresser by trade, personal trainer by choice (and gym-officially-issued-shirt), wears back brace, cancer and breast cancer rubber bracelets - he is a fighter. He squares off against weight bearing support columns and trusses. Shadow boxes against empty gym equipment, practices a brand of ultra flexible Kama sutra karate - part missionary thrust against the floor or an unsuspecting under-inflated exercise ball. He stands at impossible angles keeping balance like a flamingo holding a 25 lb weight plate. Alfredo (born Alfred - 3rd generation always assimilates in reverse and reverts, reclaims ethnicity - namely in the name) has no children. His exercise regime is so unique it appears learned deep in the jungles of Laos at the mouth of a river a dawn and dusk via a guru who never encountered a coca cola can. It is not a mystery though why he has no customers as a personal trainer.

Personal trainer wearing Oakley sunglasses, the reflecting kind does have customers - at least one. He dons a razor shaved head, chews gum constantly even while drinking coffee and is not muscular. He speaks of highly-technical aerobic video theses like negative weight produces high twitch muscle. He, himself tells a large man lifting three 45 plates per side on the bench that while he (himself) he can replicate that amount of weight and owes this strength to negative weight.

The gym is located adjacent to a house cleaning service and a nail salon. This results in a number of latin and asian women at the gym between shifts. This results in me feeling cheap having cringed at the $35 per month fee at the gym - considering, comparing wages.

A regular - tall asian with clearly a different races build is accosted by a small older italian who is built like a terrier. And wants to talk about back when Tawain was called Formosa and Asians always had to explain themselves.

The dude who cleans the toilets and cringes when someone takes a shit or changes in the locker room without covering with a towel says "it's not supposed to be fun it's work". Hoping he is a recovering addict, some explanation to frame this job, this man.

Sometimes the Squeeze isn't worth the Juice.

The reason that LL Cool J goes to a local gym in Queens, NY when he can afford to build one or ten in his house.

The power of crowds. Drawing on the energy of the guy on the bench press. Taking that and pushing through 7 extra crunches. Or the girl on the treadmill next to you who is pretty and still running so you aren't about to stop running even though you're inhaling slight razor blades with every breathe.

And the warm sun as you exit the gym.

Bin Laden is not hiding in the gym. I am sure of this.

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