The Mindless Brutes of Any Gym, USA

I would divide my body weight into three life sections:

Years 0 – 4: Typical skin and bones Indian girl
Years 4 – 18: Oh look, I found sugar. Sad owner of Lane Bryant catalogs.
Years 18 – present: Healthy alterations between very fit, fit, and “eh.”

For the past eight years, I have been an avid gym buff. My workouts are both thorough and well calculated, and I easily spend 10 hours a week, every week, burning the sugary calories I so happily consume. I am no stranger to cardio equipment, stretch mats, swimming pools, and yes, the weight room. Yet in my time at the five gyms to which I’ve belonged, I’ve found that as a woman, it takes a stoic attitude to command the respect from men that any patron (let alone a regular one) ought to automatically be given. In the gym, I have heard more than my fair share of sexist comments from men about women, despite the fact that mindless brutes of Any Gym, USA prove to be the most pathetic example of possible patrons.

I should be clear about one thing: I enthusiastically recognize that many, if not most men do not follow the pattern of behavior I describe below. To those men who act as respectful human beings in the saunas of sweat – Bravo, I say. But to those who do follow the described behavior, pay attention, because after eight years and easily 75 separate instances, it becomes increasingly difficult to entertain the possibility that you are really a decent guy, but just happen to showcase your brutish idiocy in front of females at the gym. Feminism is here to stay, and eventually, this shit just won’t fly.

Stage 1: The Unwelcome Mating Call

After 30-40 minutes of cardio, and another 20 minutes of abs and stretching, I eventually make my way over the weight room, which is where 9 out of 10 unwelcome mating calls transpire. At some point in my weight workout, the brute will identify me (or really any female in the room) and start his gross ritual of stupidity.

The ritual is most easily identified through a significant increase in auditory noises, including grunting, screaming, sighing, and weight slamming. Physical signs include prolonged rubbing of one’s own stomach, intentional protruding of the chest, and exaggerating flexing of the muscles (often coupled with an attempt at looking mysterious, which can easily be mistaken as a look of constipation).

Most often, the mating call ritual begins with the brute identifying the heaviest weight he could possibly carry. The brute then proceeds to do exactly one rep while exhibiting any combination of the aforementioned auditory and physical signs. As this never elicits any visible reaction from me, most brutes then resort to more concerted efforts. This is usually a loud march halfway across the weight room to obnoxiously retrieve the one dumbbell that “happens” to be sitting next to me, or purposely bumping into me and disrupting my workout. As the brute makes his exit from my general vicinity, he will likely employ a trite pick-up line, and/or try to “correct” my workout, and/or loudly refer to me as “pretty lady,” “hey hottie,” or “oooh, damn girl.”

The brute rarely notices that I am busy working out, have my iPod turned on, and that sometimes, the one hot girl in the gym has been flirting with me for the past ten minutes. (Yeah, don’t doubt. It happens.)

Stage 2: Fake Sexcapade

Stage 2 is marked by a noticeable shift the brute’s facial expression. Whereas before, he was trying to showcase his “incredible” strength, he now realizes that I couldn’t give a shit, and he must thus solicit the help of a fellow male. Said fellow male might also be a brute. Said fellow male might just be an innocent bystander. Either way, the brute will approach brute 2/bystander and proceed to talk about that one night three years ago they hung out. Usually, the night consisted of drinking a few beers and playing Mario Kart, but the brute will inevitably twist the sequence of events to imply that he had sex with three women in one night.

It’s at this point that I realize the volume on my iPod cannot possibly drown out the brute’s pointless babbling, and I am forced to listen to the made-up details, or cut my workout short and leave. In situations in which I am determined to finish my exercise, my only goal in the situation is to continue to never acknowledge the brute, as any acknowledgement of the brute’s existence will indubitably be misinterpreted as an invitation to further grossness.

Stage 3: What are You, a Man Hater!?

Eventually, I finish the weight-training portion of my workout, and I leave the weight room. In 99 percent of cases, this is “coincidentally” the precise moment where the brute’s sexcapade story ends. Quelle surprise. Finally, the brute recognizes the very sordid (to him) fact that I do not care if he is there. The gut jerk reaction of the brute is to blame my complete ambivalence on the ultimate cop-out excuse: This girl is a man-hater. This pathetic conclusion is usually made apparent by the brute saying things like, “F*ck, that girl is a man-hater,” or by the brute acting as though I have publically shamed him. Sadly, the brute fails to recognize that my disdain for him is not equivalent to disdain for the entire male population.

Well, brute, if that’s what you want to think, so be it. The truth of the matter is that some of my closest friends are male (gay and straight). My close male friends recognize that they are a part of my life not by virtue of their male parts, nor their ability to lift a certain quantity of weight, but by virtue of the fact that they are awesome people. It is, in fact, this very recognition that separates decent human beings from the brute.

So to all of you brutes, just remember that though you think you are amazing, I find you repulsive. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that most of the women in Any Gym USA agree with me.

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