Gym rants: It’s just like the tube

I’m still going to the gym.  After a disgustingly long hiatus whilst I moved out, saved up, found a new flat, moved in, settled in, sent girlfriend off to New Zealand and arranged a work routine, I am back in business.  I love it and I am completely smug.  But less of that.  Whilst in the middle of creating smugness whilst lifting weights and wafting about in yoga, I was struck by several similarities between being in the house of fitness, and the moving tunnel of infinite disappointment.  So naturally I had to construct a whole post around it.

Why being at the gym is just like being on the tube

I sweat like a sinner in church

Whilst it’s pretty much a no brainer that you’re going to do sweating in the gym, I am constantly alarmed by just how quickly I turn from composed into utterly rancid the minute I step onto a tube.  Now that it’s EMPHATICALLY NOT summer, nobody really has an excuse to be sweating their bits off on public transport, and yet, as I frantically fight with myself to take off all of my layers, I find myself gasping like a stricken warthog.  Today, for instance, I got my arm caught in my jacket.   Between a rock and a hard place (a person at each side, and one directly in front), I couldn’t wrest my arm from my sleeve, lest I punch the bloke in front directly in the crotch.   Instead I just fidgeted for OH I DON’T KNOW, A FEW STOPS, until I was free.  After that?  Sweaty.

Confusingly though, even though the gym is a dedicated place where people can do sweating, they always smell worse on the tube.  Always.  Just today I endured a smell so bad that it made my throat go all dry and tickly.

I always end up next to a mouth breather

God, no matter where I am, there is always someone whose very attempt at staying alive just serves to irritate me.  Mouth breathers.  You sit near me on the tube and you snort near me at yoga.  You’re not even supposed to breathe through your bloody nose at yoga!  See a specialist or LEARN TO BREATHE THROUGH GILLS OR SOMETHING.  Just shut up.

The plastics

They’re everywhere.  When you’ve woken up seven minutes before you have to get to work, you’ve had to use a sock as a hair bobble and you have more makeup on your clothes than you do your face, you always end up sitting opposite an impossible glamazon without so much as a mismatched handbag.  These ladies are beautiful, but their special power is making you feel like a slug that just came in last place in the annual international mollusc beauty pageant.

Similarly, you’re doing your thing; slowly killing yourself with a crosstrainer, and some high pony-tailed, personalised Niketown-clad, pert arsed princess comes and shows you up by trotting gracefully next to you.  Meanwhile, you’re wearing that T-shirt you sometimes sleep in and awkwardly crotch-creeping leggings.  I don’t know about you, but when I do exercise, I closely resemble a radish that has become sentient but doesn’t know quite what to do about it yet.  So naturally, it’s a nightmare when this happens.


If I had to count the number of dodgy tube harassers I have encountered this year, I would count to two.  Two too many, but that’s beside my point.  Sadly, there’s often one at the gym too, although he’s thankfully not the touchy feely sort.  He’s just the one that steals glances when you’re doing those elegant squats or wibbling about on a PowerPlate.  He leers at the yoga classes and is perpetually present when you’re doing the changing-room-to-pool shuffle of shame in your swimming costume.

Prettier people shouldn’t be allowed

Anyone who’s ever written in to “Rush hour crush” has surely felt the pang of fleetingly meeting the person of their dreams before the commute cruelly wrenches them from their grasp.  More often than not, I spy a person who is more of an… aspirational crush.  I want to be like them/dress like them/be able to do my eyeliner properly like a grown up like them.  They happen in the gym too.  On the tube though, I would say you have more of a chance of looking like a normal person, thus garnering their positive attention (unless you’ve got your arm stuck in your coat again), but in the gym, any very gorgeous person turns me into an idiot.  I get struck by this sort of hero worship thing, and then they catch me looking and I feel all awkward because now I’m the gym pervert when actually I just thought their shoulders were nice and I would like my shoulders to  look like that too. :(

I am not sure it would be possible for me to fancy someone at the gym incidentally; my sense of shame at being half human-half tomato is so intact that I think it shuts down my sex drive.  For those of you that can, and do, pull at the gym however, I salute you.  You are fearless and wise.

Silence must be observed

I don’t know about you, but when I work out, I like to be all surly; headphones in, not talking, just sweating.  This is also how many of the London folks wish to commute.  In fact, if you do talk to me whilst I am pushing weights around in my little invisible fortress of solitude, I will not thank you for it.   I want to interact with people in the gym about as much as 99% of commuters want to make eye contact with one another.  I.e. not at all.  I have learned fast that urban solitude must be respected at all times.  I think this has all confirmed that I am either a) very well settled into London or b) a sociopath.

Please note all the above horrible things I have said about the tube to not extend to the wonderful new walk-through, air-conditioned trains on the circle line.

They, my friends, are a fucking delight.