Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hands to Yourself at the Gym

These days it is harder and harder to motivate to keep fit. Every fiber in me is saying "Stay home where it's warm. Bake cookies. Eat the cookies. Make some hot chocolate. Sit on the couch and watch DVRs of Modern Family." This is not good advice and should be ignored. Aside from the obvious downside of widening the hips, lack of physical activity and natural light do not a healthy Grace make. So, I've been keeping up my regimen--regular visits to the gym with frequent of outdoor walks mixed in. Sadly, I have encountered some gruntish behavior among those similarly inclined toward fitness.

I'll start with today's Spin class. The instructor had begun to warm us up and asked if we were ready to go. Having been a teacher in a previous career, I know just how unnerving it is to toss a question at your class and receive utter silence--even if the question is slightly rhetorical. Although it was spinning and not 7th grade history, I still felt his pain, so I responded loudly and quite alone, "Yes!". This gave the chap sitting next to me the notion that I was there to mix, mingle and make the party go. He leaned over, extended his hand (which, by now, 5 minutes into class, was sweaty) and introduced himself. He continued to make slightly flirtatious, or at a minimum, overly friendly remarks for the next several minutes forcing me to both miss cues from the instructor and experience repulsion at his perspiring proximity.

What's a Grace To Do?

Well, I really only had one option. I shook his hand (inwardly cringing and making a strong mental note to apply anti-bacterial gel at the first opportunity), introduced myself, and ostentatiously faced dead ahead, focusing hard on the instructor. As my friendly neighbor's overtures continued, I looked for an opening to mention the fact that I was not on the market. Fortunately one came--when he mentioned that he taught spinning in the evening, I mentioned that I never exercise at night since I am home with my husband and children.

Full disclosure requires me to divulge that I was flattered, of course. And, really, the chap almost got it right. There's absolutely nothing wrong with meeting people at the gym. He strayed from the Grantly path when he extended his hand. When you are working out, physical contact--unless it comes from your personal trainer tweaking your bicep curl, your Yoga instructor's adjustment to your plank pose, or a paramedic administering CPR--is out.

Yes, folks, it's a minefield. Normally, a firm handshake is ingredient number 1 in the recipe for a sound introduction. But at the gym, where uncomfortably close proximity to sweating people is often unavoidable (on cardio machines or in popular classes, for example) it is essential to give personal space.

Seinfeld had a typically hilarious take on personal greetings, though he had a bone to pick with smooches, not handshakes--remember his objections to the "kiss hello" which culminated in an unexpected moment with Kramer?

But, most importantly, Graces, keep up the regimen--whatever it is. Winter can be tough on both the waistline and the mood. Too much pizza and not enough physical activity will be most regrettable when the sunny days return.

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