treadmills

It’s 7:09 a.m. The bank of treadmills, lined up like soldiers in front of the large glass window, is mainly empty. One woman, reeking of cigarettes, starts her workout. She clutches the front of her machine as the incline slopes to such an angle, it seems she might tumble off were she not holding on. She thinks about how when her workout is over, she’ll go to the job she hates at the Piggly Wiggly. She walks mightily, as if heading off to war, while her water bottle jiggles in the cup holder with each heavy step.

Behind her is row of ellipticals. They stand tall, peering over the tops of the treadmills, believing they are the superior machine. Aged men, out-of-work bankers and car salesmen, begin to climb atop the apparatus. The men move slowly at first since they rarely come to the gym. But it’s January 11th, and they are still intent on keeping their New Year’s resolutions. Soon the treadmills are overflowing with nubile, young woman, their ponytails bouncing at each step. The men have a front row seat and if lucky, are behind an athletic twenty-something who has decided to run.

Behind the front desk is Marty. He’s forty-eight, but tries to conceal his age with a Donald Trump style hairpiece, oddly mismatched to the rest of his hair. In Marty’s mind, he’s just as cool as he was when eighteen and the best wide receiver on his school’s team. Occasionally, he removes himself from the counter and wanders the gym floor, flirting aggressively with any female that glances in his direction.

A young woman with long chestnut hair and tiny shorts laughs uncomfortably at his advances while doing squats near the mirror. After a few minutes, she leaves for the locker room and Marty moves on. He lingers near the growing number of ladies on the treadmills and two of the older ones notice. They laugh at everything Marty says as he watches a coed nearby. The old men on the ellipticals wonder what it would be like to be Marty.

The front door swings open and a large figure enters, his arms bowed out from his sides. He flips his long, stringy hair and nods at Marty. An enormous gym back hangs off his shoulder and he carries a retired milk jug containing Gatorade and muscle-building formula. An acid rock station assaults the air and hangs thick and heavy like sweat. No one can find a rhythm to the severe music, which is being played for the benefit of the thick-muscled men there to lift weights.

The coed pays no attention to Marty, so he blows out his chest and ambles over to the body builders. He fakes camaraderie with them for the benefit of a fit, older woman on the biceps machine who consistently ignores him. She stares into space, taking a break in her reps, listening to the music on her iPod. Upon noticing the toupeed man looking at her, she starts her exercise again. For the life of him, Marty cannot understand why the attractive woman – only be a few years his junior – is not be flattered by his attention. 

For a few moments, the entire gym seems to move in sync with itself. Runners pound the treadmills, weightlifters bounce weights on the floor, men on the ellipticals glide like gazelles. Marty leans on the counter and gazes at the swarm, moving as one, against the anti-rhythm of a Grateful Dead song.

It’s 7:49. Men get off the ellipticals and head to the locker room to shower and get ready for nothing. Perhaps they will go to Starbucks to chat with other out-of-work friends. Young women pull on their sweatshirts and pants, trot out to their cars, and off to class. The entire gym slows to a dull, unsyncopated pace.

A woman lumbering under her own weight climbs onto the treadmill and thunks a water bottle into the cup holder. A look of confusion covers her face as she tries to figure out how to turn on the machine. 

Marty smiles wantonly at a pretty woman who pushes open the glass door to leave. He sits down and begins to fold towels.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Burly
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 08:43:59

    Uncle Rico lives in Lake County?

    Reply

  2. dayner
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 15:53:03

    Please tell me Marty is not a real person at your gym. Good job of making him a bit slimy. He’s the reason most women hate going to a coed gym.

    I would rather do anything than the elliptical–yuk! Of course you can tell by looking at my backside. 🙂
    I would much rather work out on the bike or treadmill.

    Reply

    • darksculptures
      Jan 12, 2010 @ 16:25:36

      I’ll take a stair stepper over a bike any day of the week.

      Of course I’ll take the treadmill over the stair stepper and I’ll take the chair in my office over all of them.

      Pre-broken back days, I used to work out at a gym that had all hydrolic machines. I loved that place! But the owner was skimming and they folded. Bummer.

      Reply

    • kathanink
      Jan 13, 2010 @ 14:56:50

      Unfortunately, he is real. And yes, he has hit on me, but I am not flattered since he hits on pretty much anything, including the gym equipment. And he’s just that slimy.

      I agree about the elliptical. I don’t like it at all, it hurts my hip joints. And the bike hurts my butt. Pretty much for me, it’s the treadmill or weights. Or the couch in front of the tv.

      Reply

  3. Natasha
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 20:27:21

    I can smell the sweat, Kathan! Good job of setting the scene and capturing the characters.

    I think I prefer Dunkin Donuts though.

    Reply

    • kathanink
      Jan 12, 2010 @ 10:56:15

      Thanks! I was inspired this morning at the gym when I actually did notice that while the treadmills were full of women, a bunch old guys were on the elliptical machines right behind them. Ha!

      Reply

  4. darksculptures
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:50:59

    Cute story Kathan. I would be the lardbutt getting on the treadmill after the place clears out, you know, the one that “Biff” was so unattracted to that he started to fold towels.

    Reply

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© Kathan Ink 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathan Ink, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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