American Christianity

Bill shuffled his thin frame through the door. The walk from his car up the steps to the entrance was unfairly inclined, and he had the beginnings of a sweaty sheen by the time he made it to the front door of the massive gym. He nodded to Lisa, the pretty girl who always worked at the check in station near the front. Surrounding her were a multitude of health drinks, protein bars, and various other knick knacks guaranteed to give a six-pack to a man, and a firm backside to a woman. He bought three low-calorie bars, and proceeded to open one and munch on it as he walked to the locker room.Setting his gym bag on the bench in the locker room, he pulled out his brand new fitness clothing. He had just bought it yesterday, and it made him excited to go to the gym and try it on. The special weight lifter gloves, the knee wraps with the ergonomic design, and the moisture-wicking hat. It would all help him exercise, he had no doubt.

This gym was so much better than his last one. Before last month, Bill had been a member of a small fitness center downtown, and it was slightly less than comfortable. Pipes dripped in the corners, the equipment was worn and used, and more often than not there was that damp smell of sweat. Combined with the gruntings and exertions of the other gym members, that place was a wreck.

This new place, though, was a dream come true. There were TV screen everywhere. The equipment was brand new and shiny. The music coming over the speakers was nice and relaxing, nothing like the harsh rock at the last place. The new place even had a great name; “Energize!” It even had the exclamation mark as part of the name. The title made the gym a cool place, one that was not overly focused on fitness and sweating. His last gym had just been named the “South Street Gym,” which was bland as humanly possible. They didn’t get marketing, or the concept that you can’t just say what you are or do, you have to make it appealing.

The atmosphere at “Energize!” was exponentially better than at South Street. The workers were there to cater to his needs, and all of the other gym-goers pretty much just left each other alone. That’s what he wanted, to be more of a casual audience member than an actual dedicated participant. He didn’t need people being jerks or fanatical about fitness around him. People who were overly dedicated to fitness made him feel guilty, and he hated the uncomfortable feeling he got around them. It wasn’t that the people at South Street Gym were mean. On the contrary, they were very encouraging. The problem was that they were always trying to help him out, showing how to make his workout more effective, and as a result, harder.

“Hey Bill, use your back less, and engage your legs more.”

“Bro, if you jump rope between those sets, you’ll get some pretty good cardio in.”

“Bill, you should try stretching and cooling down after working out.”

Blah blah blah. All that help just showed him his deficiencies, and it made him feel like he needed to improve. Bill wasn’t about that life. He liked the “Energize!” crowd, where he didn’t need to interact with anyone unless he really wanted to.

He stood on the elliptical machine and started to move his legs and hands. This is more like it, he thought. Nice and slow, and no one is making me feel uncomfortable.

Sometimes an overly motivated jerkface would come in and try to sweat out his hate by grunting and exercising like a demon. They never lasted long. They usually were asked by the staff to keep it quiet, and to tone it down a little. One of those guys was in the corner now, trying to turn what looked like a bicep curling rack into a place to do squats. Screw that, Bill thought. Anyone who does squats is crazy, and that’s got no place here. As he mocked the squatter in his mind, he saw a staff member walk over to the man and speak in a soft tone to him. Probably telling him to leave. Hopefully telling him to leave.

Bill looked back down at his station and saw that he had moved almost one hundred meters in the past five minutes. He was almost breaking a sweat, so he decided to slow down the pace.

Man, he loved this place. No one pushed him, or tried to make him better. He hated that, and he hated those idiots who wanted him to sacrifice something, or change his lifestyle. No one at “Energize!” told him how unhealthy his diet was, or asked him to put forth effort. More than one fellow gym-goer had walked in the doors like him, with a Coke in his or her hand. No one here cared how he lived his life, and if he wanted to binge on fried sugar and dark beer the day before a workout, it wasn’t anyone else’s business. They weren’t judgmental, and that meant everything to him.

Twenty minutes later, he scooted off of the cushioned seat. No point in going more over a half hour and risking an injury, he thought. He almost toweled off and changed back into his regular clothes, but he wasn’t sweating that much. He also really enjoyed walking around in his workout clothes, so that people would see him and think that he looked like he went to a gym.

He walked out, nodding at Lisa again. He’d be back in a few days, and he’d get to look at her again then. Hopefully that other guy, Ryan, wouldn’t be working at the front. He needed to see a pretty face at the gym to give him motivation to come back in a week. No one here cared if he showed up, so long as they got his monthly dues. Bill didn’t really care either. He felt proud of himself for going to the gym at all this week, and he could put a check in that particular box so that he would feel like a good person.

If I feel good, that’s what matters. No point in killing myself trying to improve if I can just come here and hang out.


Feature Image by Photopin

photo credit: Thomas Hawk <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/2943180422″>On a Cross, Plate 3</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I love this post! It was better that I read it not knowing the title. After I finished the post and saw the title, it REALLY made things sink in! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Coffey says:

    Good stuff, son.

    Love you!

    Dad

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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