California Knows How to Exercise
God, it was great to be back home in Southern California and at the gym the morning after Thanksgiving dinner. It's an interesting place, that Golden State. It's even more interesting in Orange County, nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego, where I live. Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda in 1913. Bob Dornan prevailed in one Congressional race after another until Loretta Sanchez thankfully ousted him from office. Community members founded a John Birch Society chapter there to weed out the Communists that had infiltrated the orange groves. The orange groves have since been replaced by Spanish-style roofs and strip malls. The people who shop at these pseudo-malls have an uncanny predilection for really, really, really tight clothes that bare a lot of skin--dipping v-necks, tighly ribbed wife-beaters, daring Daisy Dukes. And here is where Southern Californias gym culture comes into play.
Apparently the rest of the country spends the morning after Thanksgiving sitting in front of the television, mesmerized by beefy men scurrying about a football field. I also hear that quite a few people check out sales at department stores that Friday morning. But who needs Penn State or Bloomingdale's distractions when the gym tenaciously beckons? Relax and sleep in during my vacation? Uh-uh. The aerobics classes were summoning and I was more than happy to oblige. I admit it, I am a gym-junkie sell out.
Throughout the decades, fashion has been one of the gym's greatest attractions. Olivia Newton John started the fitness-look craze with her music video "Let's Get Physical" and the '80s flick "Flashdance" fed fuel to the fashion fire. While leg warmers and plastic pants rarely serve any functional purpose today, these antiquated workout staples have been replaced by a new type of Southern California gym couture--namely peroxide-tinted hair, G-string leotards and plastic breasts and pectoral muscles. I find the exponentially enlarged chests most fascinating about the gym, but amazingly enough, taut lycra seems to do the trick and hold everything in place.
Will Smith hails Miami as the place where "all night and day the heat is on." But if you really want to "Get Jiggy Wit It," invest some time in your local SoCal gym. It's a meat market worse than the First-Year Mixer--men don't bare all in form-fitting bike shorts for nothing.
Age makes no difference, and neither does age difference, for that matter. All single gym-junkies are fair game, and conquests are sure to be discussed in the locker rooms. Flirtation tends to intensify during the 5:30-7:30 p.m. rush, although a few gym-junkies a little unclear on the picture always show up in the morning ready to collect digits.
Gym addicts also tend to create significant emotional bonds with their instructors. Sometimes this develops into a healthy relationship. Oftentimes this develops into an unhealthy relationship of frenetic dependence that becomes cult-like. When this happens, it isn't pretty. I'll never forget how quickly a group of successful professionals with more than seven years of aerobics classes under their belts fell apart when their instructor wasn't punctual one day. They couldnt grapevine, they couldn't remember their stretches, they couldn't even queue up.
Before venturing out to California for a taste of West Coast-style workouts, make sure to be well-versed in gym etiquette. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and you've got to be like an aggressive hawk if you're ever going to land a treadmill machine. Sign-up sheets count for nothing in the real world. Once you've acquired that sought-out machine, finish your sets and remember to wipe it down.
For some reason, Southern Californians confuse primping with pumping coifed hair. The locker room is everyone's own royal court, and you can bare as much as you dare every day of the week. Don't fret about being modest--this will wane within a few months, and you'll be wrapping your only towel around your head instead of your torso.
And when you're more concerned about your hair dripping than your thighs jiggling, you'll know that your priorities are so far out of whack that you've broken into Southern California's gym culture. Welcome to the jungle.