At the races

Crazy People at the Gym: Mr. and Mrs. Super-Fit-Excess-Sweaters

Now that my various hospital stays have subsided — at least for now — I decided to join a gym. My goal is to lose the weight I gained while healing, and hopefully some more.

My gym has three long rows of elliptical machines, stair-steppers, and treadmills facing a bank of TVs on the wall. As is my habit, just like in 4th grade, I take the back row and begin observing people.

One married couple is entertaining because they work out together. They are young 30s-ish, in great shape, the kind of couple that probably met at the gym, married, had 2.5 kids and still work out together. The problem is, they are rarely apart. The hit the weight machines together, run the treadmills right next to each other, smiling at each other the whole time.

And God knows they are fit. I watched as they both ran at double my lethargic speed, like gazelles on the Serengeti, moving effortlessly. I barely work up a sweat, but it pours off their body from the hard effort they put in. The treadmills spin and churn under their fast feet, while mine moans along with my tired stride.

I try to distract myself from their physical superiority by immersing myself in the Jerry Springer show on one of the TVs. There seems to be a serious fight among the guests, and two women have pulled each other’s wigs off during a round of fisticuffs. Ten minutes later, I spy the fit couple still running at high speed. Their bodies are taught, muscles driving, sweat pouring. A lot of sweat. Their treadmills and the surrounding treadmills look like they were hosed down by the fire department.

I look again at the TV bank and settle on a show featuring a couple trying to decide from among three different houses. The first house has an exceptional wine cellar, the second has a great yard but lousy basement, and the third is historic and charming, but oh, my, it will take months to renovate the kitchen. What will they decide? They make an offer on the charming one, and I know they will soon be on another show called “Renovation Projects We Regret.”

Fit couple is sweating more than ever, the sweat rivers flowing off them, creating a small pond near their machines. Seven minutes later, the pond has become a lake. I see families of geese and ducks moving across the water, occasionally diving for fish.

As the home shopping show ends, the water has risen. My ankles are covered, but I keep walking. Some gym-goers have climbed up on the rails of their machines as the water moves ever higher. I look up to see a police helicopter flying low beneath the closing gap between ceiling and water level. A rumor spreads the police are looking for a family that tried to swim to the exit for safety, only to find they couldn’t open the door from the inside.

The water is up to my chest now. I wonder if I will get electrocuted. Fit couple keeps running, sweating, and smiling. They are holding hands now, looking into each other’s eyes across the treadmill divide. A small fishing boat pulls behind me, a man standing on the bow of the boat, casting into the area near the ab machines. I see a group of teenagers speed by in a water-ski boat near the from windows, two of them skimming the water behind taught ski lines. s

Finally, fit couple wind down their workout, their ocean of sweat filling the gym. You are supposed to wipe down a machine after using it, but I don’t think they will be able. The machines are seven or eight feet below the surface now. Might as well drain the place, hose it down with rubbing alcohol and set it on fire.