Second only to my fear of country music is the thought that I may one day feature in a bus stop ad, my belly a timely warning against the dangers of self-indulgence, and so I try, or at least try to try to go to the gym. Sometimes this means that I make it there, but generally I just remind myself that teenagers rely on people like me to feel good about their own body and go back to bed.
Even making it to the gym, though, doesn’t necessarily mean that any exercise will take place. How many times have I grossly underestimated my capacity for sloth and walked in only to catch a whiff of hard work – I’m like a bloodhound in that department – and been forced to utilise what I like to refer to as the “lazyboy pike.”
The lazyboy pike is reserved for those times when a person realises, immediately after being swiped through, that they would rather be swimming through human excrement, (a la Andy Defresne,) than spend another second in the gym. The lazyboy provides a long-awaited alternative to the simple about-turn and exit, which is just too tacky, even for someone that used to have a mullet.
Do not be fooled by people going into the changerooms to get changed, have showers, or nick undies from other people’s lockers; the changeroom has been built for the sole purpose of providing its lazier members a means of leaving the gym with their dignity partially intact.
Naturally, you’ve got a bit of time to kill, so it’s important to have a few time-wasters up your sleeve. I like to remove one extraneous piece of clothing immediately, (socks, scarf, jacket etc,) rifle through my bag every now and then looking for my BPA free water bottle, or play some kind of game on my phone. One time I even had a shower: (our last water bill was horrendous, and I like to know that my membership fees are going somewhere.)
For obvious reasons, the changeroom option can only be utilised so many times. It’s all fun and games until you’re pegged as the pervert who comes to the gym just to partially undress and play ultimate tetris.
The second tactic within the lazyboy arsenal is to move immediately to the gym café. Why not this first? The downside of the café option is that it’s usually located close to the front desk, which poses its own unique set of challenges. I like to either wait for the person that swiped me through to go on break, (this may take some time,) or pretend that a friend/boyfriend/colleague is running late and walk out half an hour later mumbling stuff like ‘unreliable’ or ‘last straw.’ In the meantime, order a fruit juice, or something equally virtuous and let the sweet sound of other people working wash over you: by the process of osmosis you should burn some kj’s.
The next technique is called the “mid-class pike,” which, as the name suggests, is when you feel like leaving halfway through a class. I’ve never actually pulled it off, so it doesn’t really deserve a title but I like to think that when I nail it there’ll be one at the ready.
Considering you actually made the effort to come to class, you’d expect a little more respect from the person leading, or at the very least a measure of discretion. But assumptions are the mother of all fudgeups as the great Steven Seagal once said (in the way that only Steven Seagal can – with a mixture of quiet dignity, a flash of ponytail and a roundhousekick to the side of the face.)
Only public humiliation awaits you at the hands of a jilted instructor, who has clearly taken your mid-class pike personally, as this next example will illustrate. Halfway through a “body jam” class last year, I decided I wanted out, (mostly because I’d just noticed that half the class was wearing those homi-ped-ish black dancing shoes with the spongy heels that scream ‘watch me – I’m a serious dancer’) and realised that I wanted to go back to being a youth ambassador, freeing kids from low self-esteem one doughnut at a time.
I tried to sneak out, but got trapped just as I’d made it to the door. The instructor said, (breathily, because she’d been exercising:) “No, come back sweetie, you’re doing well.” Twenty coordinated faces looked at me with condescension, and I put my keys back down and rejoined the group at the very back, where no one could see me botch the “grapevine,” which is only slightly more difficult than walking.
You’d think that this would be the extent of my humiliation, but at the end I was called up to the front and given a backpack and water bottle for sticking around, and “trying.” It was like getting a merit certificate at school assembly, which everyone knows is for people that aren’t good enough to get an actual reward. The class clapped and one person patted me on the back and said “good on you” while I was packing up.
Prevention is better than cure, so I’ll tell you how to try and avoid either of the pikes. By all means, drive to the gym and see how you feel, but know this: the proximity of your car to the front door is an excellent indicator of your chance for success. Nothing says this isn’t happening like you circling the parking lot for twenty minutes so you don’t have to walk too far to get to the treadmill.