Omig Johnson: Musings of a gym devotee

In writing this Viewpoints I feel compelled to note that for most of my life I couldn’t even spell gym. I didn’t know a gluteus from an ab. In fact, I always assumed a gluteus had something to do with not eating bread. I didn’t even take gym in high school. There was an option at my school that you could take gym or ROTC. With a father who was a West Point grad, it was a no brainer. Busy schedules and an I’ll live forever philosophy did not encourage gym membership until I was three score plus a few more years.

Joining a gym was a bit of insanity brought about by a desire to tighten and toughen body parts and enhance my strength, stability and stamina. Plus, I was tired of being the 97-pound weakling on the beach and having people kick sand in my face (this reflection will sort out the younger readers from those with many more years). The membership included a couple training sessions, and the trainer was gracious enough to recognize that working with an elder is far different than a participant in the Olympic Triathlon.

Guest Writer

Omig Johnson is the pseudonym for a longtime McMinnville resident who has no desire to get on the wrong side of the hulking guys who take their workouts rather seriously.

Now, with a few more years under my belt, I find going to the gym has made a huge difference in my life. There are a number of good gyms in the vicinity, but if you’re going to stick with it, there had better be great staff, equipment and atmosphere.

It probably wouldn’t come as any great surprise, but other participants in the gym pass by my vision during workouts. They come in all shapes and sizes. However, I have identified a number of categories for the workout stalwarts, which include:

Teenyboppers: Youngins totally focused with excellent form and perfect routines and look like they are part of an Olympic gymnastic team. Makes one wonder if I ever looked that good on my best days.

Rainforest Men: Individuals who “perspire” to the extent that it looks like a monsoon in the Amazon rainforest. I so fondly recall one guy who put two 120 pound weights on a bench (of course never used the bench for his routine) and would pick up and replace the weights as he wandered around doing his routine. I can’t imagine the weights did the bench much good, but then, I’m not an upholsterer. Regardless, when he put the weights back in the rack, he left a large body of water which resembled Lake Michigan. Now, in all fairness, I would reflect that most of the individuals in this category are kind enough to mop up the floodwaters on the equipment.

Close Cuts: These guys look like current or former military or law enforcement individuals or those who look cool with a buzz cut up the side of the head. Some with awesome tattoos that no doubt ward off evil spirits and maybe even vampires. This group has muscles where I only have dreams.

Elders (no, not geezers): Probably the category I admire most. These good folks are recovering from some medical challenge, working on their BMI or just trying to make their “golden years” a bit easier. Their form isn’t perfect and the routines are mixed but by golly, they are present for duty and working their hearts out.

Bangers and Clangers: Although small in numbers, they are mighty in workout. These are the guys (sorry, men, but I don’t see women in this category) who bang and clang the weights when they load up the machine or during the routine. At times, I expect someone wandering by the gym to assume a riot is taking place and call the SWAT team.

Grunters and Groaners: Ah, yes, these fitness buffs let the world know how hard they are working by belting out grunts and groans. As with the previous category, I expect someone to call for assistance but from FireMed services for medical attention. I am compelled to also mention that, on rare occasions, I observe these individuals doing what I can only describe as the strut. This is where, upon completion of their set, they stride about looking up with a faraway expression no doubt picturing themselves on the cover of Incredible Body Beautiful magazine.

Territory Imprinters: you just gotta love the guys who leave their weights on the machines. And, no, we’re not talking 45 pounders. At first I assumed these were guys who were raised by mothers who followed them around and picked up after them. But then it dawned on me. They’re defining their domain like some mountain wildcat who marks every rock and tree.

Equipment Homesteaders: these folks haven’t quite figured out that gym membership doesn’t equate to gym ownership. They pick up weights and stand right in front of the, rack effectively blocking anyone from picking up their weights. Another type of Homesteader is the guy who occupies the equipment for an excessive amount of time. I used to observe one individual who would read a magazine while sitting on the equipment with a faraway look on his face. I wasn’t sure but maybe he was envisioning a session on his home porcelain throne, and I can only hope he was wearing a diaper.

Socializers: Just how many times do I have to listen to the weekend plans or how to set up for an upcoming job. These folks haven’t quite figured out that sharing cell phone conversations is a tad distracting while doing a routine. And for those individuals who stand around socializing, wouldn’t it just feel more comfortable in a coffee shop?

Bathroom Bathers: Occasionally, when I’m washing up after my workout, I note water all over the bathroom counter. At first I thought it was a compulsive hand washer, but it dawned on me that it must be individuals who crawl up on the counter and try to take a bath. I’ve never actually seen this take place, but that’s my only conclusion. And yes, I always take my paper towels and try to mop up a bit. Goes back to my Boy Scout training of leaving a campsite cleaner than when you arrive.

Droppers: these individuals drop their weights even though the gym is kind enough to post gentle requests not to. At first I thought our educational system had failed to teach reading skills at an early age, but then it dawned on me that I shouldn’t disparage our schools but rather, just maybe, these good folks have a vision problem and it’s not that they can’t read, it’s because they can’t see. Probably a trip to an ophthalmologist is in order.

Yours Truly: And lastly, there is the author of this missive who just wanders around mumbling, “Call 911.”

So there you have it. The bottom line is that for those who stick with it, the gym does indeed have a significant impact on your life. And one final thought: Please know that if I’ve offended anyone, I certainly apologize profusely but with a small modicum of hope that some observations might just be taken to heart.


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