Muscle Universe is an upstart chain of health and fitness clubs which have steadily increased the presence in communities across the American southwest. Naturally, they have lofty goals of expanding nationwide over the next decade. They are well on their way.
Billed as a no frills, no posers, judgment free health club, Muscle Universe attracts its clientele by providing flexible operating hours which cater to the most psychotic of schedules among its members. They offer memberships with extremely low monthly fees and a very reasonable annual fee as well. In turn, members enjoy the benefits of treadmills, stationary and recumbent bikes, elliptical trainers, stair machines, free weights, machines for circuit training, exercise balls, and plenty of space to stretch out. Additional perks include a wall of flat screen TVs which broadcast a plethora of channels on the basic cable dial, tanning booths, massage chairs, and diamond plating on some of the walls to boot.
One hot evening in the middle of April, Muscle Universe found itself busier than it usually was at 8:30 pm on a Tuesday night.
No one really knows why.
The bank of treadmills buzzed as a collection of running enthusiasts endeavored to improve their ability to go the distance faster than before. Meanwhile, the ellipticals cycled their riders up down in a motion designed to be easier on the joints. Members who were relatively new to the world of frequent exercise disengaged themselves from a 30 minute ride on the stationary bike and found themselves wondering why their nether regions touted a perpetual buzzing sensation which implied the area had fallen asleep. As the confused biker attempted to inconspicuously inspect the region in public to insure he wasn’t wetting himself, a feisty octogenarian blazing a pair of shorts where the waist band rests just below his nipples takes up a seat in a recumbent bike in order to get his cardio in. One could only wonder how the gentleman could comfortably take a seat on that bike with his pendulous genitalia presenting itself loud and proud outside the left side of the bright red shorts.
All of these members were watching the bank of TVs while they shuffled through the song mix on their collective mp3 players. It was probably no accident the club was designed to accommodate the attention deficit disorders of those who try to stay in shape.
In an area where the TVs couldn’t be seen, a veritable cacophony of exercise equipment littered the landscape in an effort to help the muscle bound patronage maintain their physique. There seems to be more focus on the sculpting here. Among those in the area picking things up and putting them down, a virtual buffet of every type of body art, be it tattoos, piercings, or unnaturally colored hair ensconced itself in the tightest fitting of spandex, the shortest of shorts with messages across the tush labeling the contents as “juicy”, and sleeveless shirts advertising bands, schools, and products which no one else had ever heard of.
The timed circuit training was in the back. They couldn’t watch TV either. Instead, the area was set up with 10 weightlifting machines and 10 benches for step exercise. There was also a light on the wall that could be seen from every one of those exercises. When the light was green, the exercise on either the machine of or the step bench was being carried out. The light stayed green for a minute. After that, the light would turn red for 30 seconds. In that time period, those in the area would move from one exercise to the next and wait for the light to turn green again. By the time all twenty stations had been visited, the member would have just put in a 30 minute session of cardio. Even though signs adorn the area advising that no lingering should take place on these machines, it’s inevitable that on any night, a couple of people will hijack one of the machines and do multiple sets over a 10 to 15 minute period. Those who are trying to do the circuit training who get their regimen interrupted by the bicep building buffoon who is sporting way too much body art and just the wrong shade of pink in his Mohawk have the option to tell the intruder to get the hell out of the way, or skip the machine in hopes of coming back to it later in the workout.
The area reserved for stretching tends to sport some of the more ambitious sights in the entire club. If it isn’t some sweet young thing donning tight clothes to accentuate her proportionality, it’s a couple of people who sprawl themselves out on the floor in various positions to stretch every muscle they can while at the same time inadvertently giving others in the area a peak-a-boo into the loose fitting clothing.
Others in the same area can be found to be putting some of the exercises to work which they learned from a DVD they bought off of an infomercial. There’s a big market for such DVDs, and as such a wide variety of workouts focusing on muscle confusion, kick boxing, and martial arts inspired stretching can be viewed in the area at any given time.
Never mind the runners on the treadmills, the climbers on the ellipitcals, the strategically placed scrotum on the recumbent bike and the new found case of buzz nuts at the stationary bike. Don’t worry about the ink and spandex camouflage at the free weights. The circuit trainers who had to alter their workout are moot at this point.
It was in the stretching area on that Tuesday night which made the goings on in the club at that very moment so unique. In a small area in the middle of the floor, a young lady proceeded with an exercise she had learned from a DVD purchased off of an infomercial. That particular DVD specialized in aerobic activity through the art of exotic dance typically put on display by scantily clad hootchie mamas who earn their living in gentlemen’s clubs located near airports nationwide.
The young lady danced there on her own as many watched on while pretending not to watch. Whether she danced to the beat of the music being played on the loud speakers, no one knew, because they all had their own music feeding into their skulls through their earphones.
Although the young lady possessed the rhythm and knowledge to keep the dance going, she failed to possess the look, or even the physique of those who make a living dancing like that. Physical shortcomings aside, she did possess the one thing that anyone would have needed in order to dance like that by herself in front of complete strangers. That one possession was a bold, unwavering self-esteem that gave her the courage and testicular fortitude to commit such an act in public.
The TharpSter PounDown continues.