No Means No
Although physical activity is proven to make one feel better and relieve stress, the gym, surprisingly, is an unproductive place to go if one does not feel particularly talkative or peppy. You see, the group fitness instructors, attendants, equipment monitors and even the posters of not all, but many gyms, exude a potent can-do, non-stop attitude. Next to a row of television screens, there is a poster of a body-builder-sized arm. Distressed typography is haphazardly laid-out over the tanned, oily musculature. It reads: When your body tells you to stop, tell it to shut up.
For many people sweating their asses off, no is never an answer. Here, reality bites the dust.Yes I can lose 20 pounds! Yes my triceps do look terrific! Yes I beat my personal best! Here, there's no such thing as no. Here, no means yes, and yes means yes. It doesn't bode well with us ambi-adverb users.
If you're like me, you decide to brave the gym because your apartment is too cold to stay inside, and you don't own a television, so at least you can watch the news. This is all of the can-do attitude you can muster when you enter. Before you can start, you will have to swipe your card on a scanner, which doesn't work that well, even when you attempt various methods of holding and waving the card in front of the device. During this time, you will be forced to make eye contact and conversation with the people at the front desk. These are very nice people, but remember that they, dissimilar to you, are most likely hyped up on endorphins, energy bars and protein, and are unsympathetic to your own lazy, introverted behavior. They say hello.
You came to the gym to exercise. To decompress. To try to move on from the pointless and not-so-pointless interactions from earlier in the day. You would like to rudely ignore the front desk attendants who smile obliviously, but social norms step in the way, and you say hello back.
"I see you've been a member here for six months and still haven't signed up for your personal fitness assessment. When should we schedule that?" Asks the younger attendant.
"No thanks. I don't want to schedule that," you say. Now scanned, you can finally get through to the treadmills (and televisions!), but the attendant continues his practiced-smirk-smile schpeal.
"It's a great way to start out 2010," he adds.
"But the year is 1/12 of the way finished," you rebut.
"We'll give you a call this week to set something up."
"You called me last week to set something up," you tell him. "I said no."
The other attendant chimes in: "You got here just in time. Why do you step up your workout and try BodyPump?"
"No thanks. I just want to go and workout (and watch television—maybe Oprah!)," you say.
"Aww, come on!" He gets up from behind the desk and starts walking with you to the cubbies. "Our classes can really add to your routine..."
He continues to talk, but you imagine large marshmallows inside your ears that block out his voice. You give him a glazed-over look as you remove your jacket. He's now just a murmur with a moving mouth. For a second, you forget about the marshmallows, and sharply, he cuts back in: "So, will you give it a try?"
When you arrived, you weren't in a very good mood. Work sucked and you have nothing to do tonight. Still, you managed a hello and a smile at the front desk. That was all they deserved. You are not smiling now. Instead, you break the silence with a deep sigh, plug your earbuds into their iPod jack and walk away. He'll never understand the word No.