Saturday, 19 April 2008

People watching

I often people watch. It's free and it can be very entertaining. I've been people watching at the gym today.
I thought I'd mention my gym visit, before you think my exercise regime is nothing but empty threats, or a figment of my over-active imagination.
So, with green track suit bottoms on, my white top and my whiteish trainers, I set off to the sports centre. As usual, the first thing I did upon arrival was weigh myself. The scales can cause many reactions - a sigh of despair, an irritated tut, or a look of fear / bewilderment. On a good day they can be responsible for a sigh of relief, a look of satisfaction, or even a smile of contentment.
Today I would say the scales caused a look of satisfaction. No change, but no gain, so I was satisfied with the outcome.
First stop, running machine. Or in my case - walking, then jogging, then running, and then walking machine.
Next thing, people watching. Who was at the gym today, I wondered to myself.
One of the worst case scenarios is actually seeing someone that I know. In the past I have spied my next door neighbour, old school acquaintances, and an ex boyfriends friend who I would rather never see or speak to ever again. Most of the time I pretend I haven't noticed them, if I do see a familiar face. I don't find the gym the best place to hold a conversation when you are huffing and puffing, sweating or trying to hold your wobbly bits in.
Luckily, today I did not spot anyone who I could pretend I hadn't seen. My eyes fixated on the young, thin, pretty girl talking to her mobile phone. What was she doing here?! It was obvious she didn't need to loose weight, or that she was bothered about keeping fit. She was far too busy checking herself out in the mirror, wearing the smallest, tightest clothes in her wardrobe, while at the same time making her Saturday night binge drinking arrangements. She'd probably just used the sun bed, looked in the mirror and realised how great she looked, so entered the gym area to gloat.
Me - jealous, bitter and old? Of course not!
Enough of the irritatingly pretty, thin, young girl. My eyes moved to the serious trainer. You know the sort, the type who look like they have stepped out of a Nike advertisement. She was dressed head to toe in Nike and running at a very impressive speed. But she made it look so easy! I was reminded of the bleach stains on my green track suit bottoms (must buy a new pair one of these days) and the slow speed my running machine was still on.
I progressed to a faster speed setting, began to jog, and moved my eyes to the next person. What a contrast from the serious trainer. He looked like he would rather be anywhere else in the world. Watching paint dry, or snails sleeping would probably have been more fun for him. His face was a peculiar shade of purple, huge drops of sweat were cascading onto the tread mill, and every couple of minutes he looked like he was about to give up. It was painful to watch him. He soon gave up, walked out the door and never looked back. I suspected he was off to the cafe for a beer and a cheese sarnie, vowing to never put himself through such an ordeal again.
I then spotted the weight trainers. Actually it would be accurate to say I heard the weight trainers. Grunting and moaning, and competing at a very competitive level, with dangerously heavy looking items. My body ached merely watching them. I wouldn't be surprised if they had received their 'Strongest man in Essex' entry forms in the post this morning, and were off to the shops on their way home to buy XXXL T-shirts, as they were bulging out of their XXL T-shirts.
My jog turned into a run, just a short run, and I eagerly glanced at the calorie counter, willing it to move to triple figures.
Next stop, the machine which moves your arms and legs, and enables you to watch a television channel of your choice on the individual screen. This was when I noticed the nervous girl. She was looking very hesitantly at the machines, the mirrors, and everyone. I wondered why she was so nervous. First time at the gym? Low self esteem from her boyfriend, or lack of boyfriend? She mounted the machine next to me and stared at the dials in horror. Should I ask her if she needed any assistance, or would that make her feel worse? Would she then realise that she was not blending in and looking far too conspicuous? Perhaps I should leave it a minute or two before offering to help her.
My arms and legs were picking up a good pace now, and I tuned into the omnibus edition of Coronation Street, to pass the time. Lost in the world of dark David, a sloshed Audrey and a numb Gail, I happily burnt off calories and watched the fictional characters on my screen. Until I couldn't help noticing that the nervous girl was banging on her machine, desperately trying to work it out. It was then I stepped in to help her.
I thought nervous girl would have been grateful for my gym knowledge, but not even a thank you passed her lips! Maybe what I had mistaken for nerves was actually a trauma. Perhaps she'd had a very traumatic morning, which had left her unable to speak and unable to cope with life? Perhaps a relative had sadly passed away, or while she'd been toasting her currant buns she'd accidentally set fire to her house?
I thought I would leave the nervous / traumatised girl in peace.
Last stop, rowing machine. Back and forwards I went on the machine, avoiding catching my reflection in the mirror. Why do they insist in placing mirrors everywhere in the gym? It's bad enough looking in the mirror, without watching my hot and tired, hair scraped back reflection, trying to exercise.
My eyes scanned the gym for more people, but I noticed it was practically empty now. Was it lunch time, I wondered, or was there an important football match on the telly? Maybe it was time for me to leave soon. In my head I added up the calories I'd lost - 668, and I was happy with that. Not a bad result for a morning of people watching.
It was time to leave the gym and head home for a banana sandwich.

Picture of the day:

Roses in the conservatory.


JYankee said...

great people watching! i do that at airports.. i love watching people..wondering where they're going... etc... esp int'l airports... families fighting..tension always mounts on trips! lol... so you really DO go to the gym.... Ha ha..just kidding

Flaming Nora said...

Sorry for this comment (which is a thinly veiled plug for my blog, ahem!) but if you enjoy Coronation Street then you might like to sneak a peek at

Blur Ting said...

My, you really are observant! The gym I go to is not so exciting.

I find time passes really slowly when I'm running on the treadmill, so nowadays I bring a magazine to flip through. When I'm done with the magazine, it's also time to cool down.

seagrape said...

you described the gym scene so perfectly. a home treadmill is just so boring...i think i'll start hitting the gym again :)

Nick Phillips said...

I'm a people watcher too ... hehehe ... I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing though.

I'm not really a gym person, I need my scenery when I run :D

The World According to Me said...

Hi Jyankee

Airports are a great place to people watch! I always wonder where people are going / what their relationship is etc etc!

And yep, I really do go to the gym!

The World According to Me said...

Hi Flaming Nora

Will check it out soon!
What a situation David has landed himself in!

The World According to Me said...

Hello Blur

It's a little habit of mine!

That's a good idea, to bring a magazine along. I might try that, if I can tear myself away from my people watching!

The World According to Me said...

Hi Seagrape

I don't suppose you have Nike dressed runners, weight lifters and exhausted and nervous trainers in your home?!

The World According to Me said...

Hi Nick

I have been told I am one of lifes observers! I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing though?!

I can imagine scenery watching is a good way to pass the time on your runs!

Rebecca said...

Not a bad day at the gym at all :) I, too, people watch while working out. Nearly all of us have ourselves plugged into iPods. But thankfully we don't have too many of the "i'm just here to show off my perfection" types, though there are a few. I never understood bringing one's cell phone to the gym floor. When I am on the elliptical machine for ever and a day, I don't have the breath to waste on casual conversation!

I kind of like the mirrors for 2 reasons: helps in keeping people watching less conspicuous, and watching my muscles bulge when playing with weights is motivating for me.

Dav DiDi said...

I never try gym .. most of the time, I'll go for aerobics ..

The World According to Me said...

Hello Rebecca

iPods are always a good idea at the gym. At the gym I go to I usually leave my iPod behind as there are often great up-lifting tunes blasting out of the speakers. The other day I realised I was dancing rather than working out! Still, dancing is good for you.

I see your point with the mirrors!

The World According to Me said...

Hello Dav Didi

How are you?

I used to belong to a step class many years ago, but I find at the gym you can go at your own pace and spend as long (or as short !) there as you wish.

Bye for now.

Amel's Realm said...

HE HE HE HE...I LOVE people-watching, too, esp. the first year in Finland when my Finnish was worse than now he he he he he...;-D

Unfortunately I can't lift weights 'coz I tried it in the past and it only made me look bulky (and shorter!). I'm short enough already as you I don't want to look shorter HI HI HI HI HI...

The World According to Me said...

Hello Amel

It seems 'people watching' is a popular sport in blog land! What nosey, inquisitive lot we must be!

I know what you mean about the weights, I'm on the short and not exactly slender side myself!
Believe it or not, I was bordering on skinny up until my mid 20's and then it all went horribly wrong!