A gym full of zombies

March 10, 2008

by Matt Kane

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been going to the gym for the past month.

Getting back into the routine of pushing and pulling those stubbornly resistant weights and pulleys has not been easy, and the stiffness I expected to feel after the first week or two of workouts arrived on schedule.

I have noticed, after a good day of arm workouts, that holding my camera at sporting events is a struggle for my spent arms. But, as in the weight room, one has to push on and power through the pain.

By far, I am not a power lifter in the gym, but I do enjoy working out and pushing myself. I’m still waiting to see any positive results, but neither the bathroom scale nor the waistline on my Lucky Brand Jeans has indicated that all the work

I have put in on the treadmill and press bench is paying off.

I know, I know, the pounds don’t just fall off after the first month, and I’m not necessarily at the gym to lose weight. Sure I would like to fit into smaller jeans, but, more importantly, I just want to be more healthy and stay somewhat athletic. (Yes, I used to be an athlete).

I think, for myself, going to the gym has an affect on me mentally as much as it does physically. Just knowing I finished a good workout eases my mind, and, when I miss a workout, I feel guilty for slacking off.

In my return to the workout world, I have noticed a change in the gym environment. There is no more small talk with your treadmill neighbor, and if you need a spotter for your preacher curl set you have to tap someone on the shoulder. You can’t just verbally ask someone anymore because it seems everybody in the gym has headphones on their ears. Some are listening to music on their iPods, and others are tuned into the televisions scattered around the gym.

This bothers me because I like to small talk with people, and I like to pick the brains of the guys and gals who may be doing an exercise I’ve never done before.

When you try to ask someone with headphones on a question, they always give a dirty look, as if you’ve just interrupted them while something important was being electronically pumped into their brains. They never hear what you said the first time, so they have to pull the buds out of their ears, you ask again, and then they have to go to the trouble of getting those buds put back in their ears.

Coming from the Walkman era, I know iPods and devices like them are nothing new, but they seem to be turning everybody into zombies.

Just 10 years ago, when I was in college, my buddies and I used to go to the gym probably four or five times a week, and we would talk to each and push each other during our workouts. I enjoyed the chatter and the buzz that echoed through the weight room with the banging of weights.

Now, if it weren’t for the radio sitting along the back wall pumping out a local radio station, the 24-hour club I am a member of would be as quiet as a morgue at midnight.

Sometimes, I even view people who are constantly listening to headphones as being disrespectful, in that they don’t care what anybody around them has to say. I saw this Friday night, when I was watching the state hockey tournament.

I noticed, during one of the coach’s pregame talks, that one of the players had one of those headphone buds in his ear. Now, maybe the player had the sound turned off and maybe he was actually listening to his coach’s pep talk, but, I know if I would have kept my headphones on during one of my hockey coach’s pregame talks, even if the sound was off, I would have been watching that game in my street clothes.

Complaining about the stale atmosphere at the gym and how people are becoming zombies are probably just signs that I’m entering that stage of my life where I complain about how new technologies are dumbing-up the world. But I kind of believe it.

Everywhere you go in public, someone has wires growing from their ears. Whatever happened to just listening to the world around you? Everything we do and everywhere we go has its own sounds track. Try listening to that once. No headphoned required.