My Headphones Died at the Gym: How I Lost Hope for Humanity in One Hour

On a recent rainy day, I headed to the gym for my usual three times per week sweaty torture/feel like shit about myself when I look at anyone else session. Upon stashing my keys, I put my headphones in and headed out onto the main floor where the re-tooled medieval strappados and stretch racks await.

I’m no more than 6 minutes into a vein washing, colon cleansing weight session when suddenly my mp3 player, the purest motivation, the soothing sound that whispers in my ears and guides me through this shit storm of self-loathing and body envy, takes a crap and dies.

You might be asking yourself, why don’t you just use your phone? Well, my sweet millennial cohorts, I’ll give you two reasons:

  1. I do not have unlimited data on my phone, and this particular gym, whose name I will not mention other than to simply say it’s a Los Angeles based franchise, does not have Wi-Fi.
  2. I hate carrying the thing with me everywhere. Not because I’m a pretentious old soul who has to separate from his devices, but simply because it’s too cumbersome an object to be walking around with strapped to my arm like an android or worse, in my pocket where it will inevitably fall out or just be one more thing to distract me from making sure I don’t rip my scrotum in half trying to get on this fucking Spanish Donkey, aka hip adductor machine. That’s right, this guy doesn’t skip leg day.

So I have an MP3 player, like any decent mid 30s humanoid who was in the prime of their life in 2005, which is convenient because they make them so small now you can lose the thing in the palm of your hand. Unfortunately, being that small, it tends to pack the battery power of a 1930s wind up car and needs to be charged every 2 sessions and thus, I ran into my problem.

Mid-song, the device dies and I am left hanging with only the sounds of the gym to console me as I shred the actual fibers of my being in an attempt to sculpt a chiseled mass of hair and flesh out of the lumpy pile of boiled potatoes and beef fat I’ve been lugging around for the past 3 years. What I found in the hour that followed was enough reason to drop my shit and move to the relative safety and sanity of the New Zealand countryside.

Where do I begin? Well, I guess I’ll just rattle it off in the best chronological order I can remember whilst narrowing this shit down to the 9 things that pissed me off the most about this day, be it rational or not.

Bros Talking About Chicks

Now, I am a straight man who appreciates the female form as much as the next guy, but I like to think that I’m enlightened enough that I don’t need to expose any primitive thoughts I may have with my words. Being the 21st century, I want to hope that we men, as a species, are moving in a direction where we are beginning to appreciate women, in all shapes, sizes and colors for being the people they are, as well as physically bedazzling specimens.

Maybe I’m getting old or I’m just worrying about the possibility of having a daughter and the reality that when I do, this same group of dickheads is going to be around, talking about her ass and thighs on a grading scale, like her physique is a reflection of her qualities as a human being the same way a D- on this guy’s math test was an indictment of his understanding of how the universe works.

In any case, men at the gym have no filter, know no level of subtlety. While this was less than shocking, it was enough to make me want to get up and move on to the next muscle ripping device.

Couples Talking About Politics

Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I talk about politics. We don’t, however, save it for when grunting out bench press sets. This particular couple is always at the gym. The man is sort of a permanently flexed muscle with teeth. As he spots what I presume is his wife, he recites Fox News tropes like a Neanderthal version of Bill O’Reilly. He is Shaun Hannity’s asshole with limbs. As he shakes his head about “crooked Hillary” and rants about “liberal pussies” assaulting his personal freedom, I space out. Mainly cause I thought the 11th leg press rep was gonna force me to shoot my colon out of my ass in one clean shot.

When I finally put the locks back on and try to reconfigure my digestive system with my thoughts, the couple has switched, adding an absurd amount of weight so that this man with the honey baked ham neck can hoist a Schwarzenegger-esque sum of weight in the air easier than I can put spare blankets on the top shelf of the closet.

I think to myself, perhaps the wife will tone things down, bring the conversation back to, I don’t know, fucking abs or triceps or estrogen shots to keep her from growing balls. Instead, it turns out Ann Coulter has a body building cousin who has shifted the conversation to excusing police brutality and pining over the Republican party’s lost opportunity to have a “strong female leader like Sarah Palin to run alongside Trump.”

All that in the space of five minutes. That’s my cue. I’m moving on, screw this last set.

Chicks Talking About Bros

How about I just try some abs? I’ll have to go set myself on one of those hanging assless chair thingies so I can swing my feet around and act like I have core strength, but it’s better than listening to those two. Well, sort of.

I get over there and there are two girls laying on a mat in front of a mirror. Their conversation is focused on abs, which at the time I assume they mean their own, or the lack thereof in the case of these two. But after a few seconds it becomes clear, they’re talking about their most recent dates.

Now, I’m not screaming out reverse sexism here, but I’d hoped the ladies might prove to have a less shallow view of the male species than their previously discussed counterparts.

Here we are, in an age where women are fighting for equal pay finally, demanding they be treated with respect at every corner as the first female president is a real possibility. In many ways, it’s a great time to be a woman in this country, you’re on the rise and having started at the bottom, I guess I always naively figured that when women got to the top, they’d be better than men for their experiences. But alas, with “if he’s gonna have a body like that, he’d better have a wallet to match,” the egotistical sack of shit on the floor before me represents a female spin on exactly the kind of double standards so many women have fought to eradicate in recent decades.

This is getting ridiculous. Is there one person in this gym that isn’t a total ass? Time to move on.

Amateur Storyteller Guy

This is as much a pet peeve of mine as a real problem. But you know this guy. He frames a story as if it’s going to be epic, then goes into an inane amount of non-linear detail followed by a conclusion that leaves you wondering if the story is actually over. I can’t stand that guy. I think I was that guy and then I realized I was that guy and emotionally beat myself into silence. Now I expect all other guys of this type to perform the same community service.

Guy Bragging About His Assault Life Sticker

As if the northern transplants going around telling us they love the beach (no shit, really?) wasn’t bad enough in the form of these salt life stickers, now some hill jack with a gun rack has his own take on it plastered on the back of his pickup truck. He’s so proud that he’s such an incredible sportsman, he can kill deer using his very own military arsenal instead of a regular gun. He’s such a bad ass. The world lives in the shadow of his dick, obviously. That’s why he’s even talking about his dumbass sticker now.

His friend is whining about a recent experience with backpack clad Jehovah’s Witnesses stopping by and placing something on his doorstep.

“Bro, I just leave the truck in the drive way, they see that assault life sticker they just stop at the drive way.”

Great work asshole, my dog does the same thing. Go fuck yourself. Next!

Gluten Discussions

As I approach the squat rack I encounter another pet peeve, gluten phobia.

The two girls sharing a weight bench to my left are chatting about how awful gluten is, pining that they’re “pretty sure it’s the reason so many people are fat.”

Now instead of going into the reams of evidence that show gluten is not all that bad, let me just put it this way.

For centuries mankind ate bread. It was a staple of not only our diets, but our survival. And now, somehow, sometime after I graduated from college, the entire civilized world developed an intolerance for bread, rather than the 3% of mankind which actually suffers from celiac disease and legitimately cannot process gluten.

Now, there is no way that gluten intolerance is a marketing ploy fed by a fear of carbohydrates that are demonized by the fitness community as the reason you and I are overweight. It just doesn’t seem likely that the vast amounts of cheese and meat I eat coupled with laziness is enough to make me this way, it has to have been those filthy carbs and most certainly, that bread.

Some people really do suffer stomach pains when they eat bread, and it is definitely the bread itself that is upsetting their stomach and not the vast amount of shitty food they eat with it. It can’t be the space chemicals used in commercial yeast affecting us, those are a natural occurrence in foods with grain in them. When Jesus fed his disciples bread, one of them must have had trouble digesting the calcium propionate and ethoxylated mono and diglycerides that occur naturally in bread. I’ve never understood why the bible leaves the part about how they all felt like shit afterwards out.

Of course, not all of them had trouble with it. Some of them were surely just worried they’d end up fat, like Paul, or according to this woman, everyone living in the modern world. What is most shocking is that it took marketers 2000 years to pray on that fear and spark the idiotic discussion next to me that proceeds to paint a picture in which gluten completely destroys your internal organs. You gotta lay off that bread. Just eat anthrax, it’s better for you than bread.

The Dick Measuring Contest

Now, when I joined a gym it wasn’t like I did so not knowing I’d run into a healthy dose of macho dicks in these rooms. It comes with the territory, I get that. But usually, there is a nice sense of mind your own damn business in the room that I quite enjoy. Everyone does their own thing and quietly looks at what other people are doing to see if they’re as strong as the guy next to them. The one upping is under the surface most days.

But on this shittiest of days, a 6-foot 4-inches tall guy who looks like a personal trainer working out in his spare time has to approach me.

“You want to work out together, bro?”

What the hell is this guy’s deal? Does he think I left my house to socialize? To meet people? I don’t want to share a sweaty chair with you, man. And I want to say this… But what comes out is…


Dammit. So now we begin, I do my set, then he sits down and tosses this shit up like he’s playing with a sack of feathers. After something like 931 reps he gets up.

“You want to add more? Or stay the same?” The tone is very indicative he thinks we should add more. Why do I oblige? I don’t know, but I do.

Now, we’ve moved up to a weight I can barely get into the air. I complete the set, but by the end I can barely move my arms in a forward motion. He sits down, does the set with ease and jumps up.

“Stay the same or add more,” he says unamused.

“Same,” I say standing my ground.

I do my last set and get up. He’s waiting with a smile on his face and more weight in his hand. I consider squirting my water bottle in his face and telling him to eat a bag of dicks. Instead, I keep my head and think wiser of it, mainly because that would involve lifting my hands above my pelvis and that is not possible at the moment. This torture fest is one event away from its conclusion. Let’s just move on to that weird calf muscle machine and blow the doors off this heap.

Upper Body Guy’s Balls Fall Out

I consciously avoid working out next to the guy that doesn’t care about leg day, even though he makes my calves look like I plucked them off the statue of David myself. The reason is pretty simple, this guy loves to talk about working out. He does it every day and thus, he thinks he knows shit about working out that you don’t. His massive pecks and biceps are what every man should look like in his opinion and if you get too close, he’s going to tell you the proper way to bench press and why your bicep curls are all wrong.

Now that I don’t have my headphones in, I know it will happen, so I put them back in despite the fact they aren’t playing music just in case we accidentally make eye contact.

Of all days, he has chosen today and take on the leg press. His shorts are so loosely fitted, primarily because his marathon runner legs don’t fill out men’s shorts the way they ought to, that they slide right up to his hips. As he takes in that first rep, lowering his knees back to his chest I watch and wonder if he’ll actually shit himself from the pain of leg day. That’s when it happens.

As he pushes the weight back up he’s fine. He goes in for rep number two, and here they come, his wrinkled beans, for all the world to see right out of the pant leg of his boxers. Casually, he pulls the shorts down as he returns the weight upward, resetting the lock and immediately leaving the machine. Today is not leg day for him anymore, but it is officially the shittiest day of my gym attending life.

The Barren Wasteland of Pop Music

Throughout this entire ordeal, there has been one constant that is almost as bad as the people; the god awful music that comes over the house channel. It’s so incredibly bad, there is a Facebook page dedicated to whining about this fitness franchise’s radio. Clearly, I am not the only one who feels this way.

It starts with the aural abomination of Zedd’s ‘I Want You to Know’ featuring Selena Gomez and runs the gamut of pop music smut all the way to Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’ with pit stops at a the musical wet Willy that is Calvin Harris’ ‘How Deep is Your Love’ and some 50 shades of Meghan Trainor’s shit about a husband.

Modern pop music is as classy, insightful, original, creative and pleasant to listen to as skinning cats while reading the details of Donald Trump’s sex life. The bullshit is relentless. Goodbye cruel reality of the gym. I’ll be back when with a well charged mp3 player once I can drink this one off.

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