Illustration by Jim Cooke/ GMG

I see you. Spandex. Spiderman. I see you there. What are you doing?

You’re wearing tights. Underneath your shorts. They don’t even come all the way down your leg. They don’t even keep your whole leg warm. They just come down halfway because of style. They’re Nike tights in some fuckin camo pattern. And you’re wearing a spandex Nike top that matches your tights. Brightly colored.

Guess no cars will be running into you in the gym thanks to your reflective coloring. Whew.

You’re wearing an arm sleeve. A spandex arm sleeve. It goes over part of your arm for a reason that nobody knows. Nobody ever asks what the arm sleeve does because they think one day they might want to wear an arm sleeve to match their outfit and they don’t want to acknowledge in advance that they have no idea why they are wearing the arm sleeve. You have an arm sleeve on and you’re not in the NBA. You’re just gesturing loudly inside of a chain gym and making me want to throw a Power Berry Smoothie at you and then run away my man.

You’re wearing Nike Metcons. They cost a hundred dollars. You saw a guy wearing them at the Crossfit Games on ESPN 2. They have neon colors like the vest of a construction worker who stands in the middle of the road holding up a “SLOW” sign. They’re kind of your own personal “SLOW” sign, if you think about it.

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You’re wearing an Iphone on an arm strap. You’re wearing earbuds and a rubber bracelet with an inspirational acronym imprinted on it. Your kicks match your top. Your tights match your socks. It’s not a coincidence my man. I know what you did last summer. I know what you did this summer. I know what you’re gonna do next summer unless somebody “““accidentally””” ties your shoelaces to the Octane Fitness LateralX Elliptical machine you’re on and tells you to look out the window because someone is rocking a fly new Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shirt and then “““accidentally”””pushes you out the window and leaves you dangling there until the summer has passed:

You dressed up to work out.

Did you know you’re in a gymnasium and not a fashion show? Either place you would look stupid. But at the gym you look stupider. At least at the fashion show you could pretend to be some sort of “Make a Wish” person.

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You match. What is this—The Match Game? Wrong. It’s the snatch game. (Name of an exercise—no juvenilia please.) You seem like you’re playing a craps game. Because you gambled—and lost. Gambled on what? On wanting to be praised—and not clowned—for matching. Mr. Matchy. There you are doing pullups looking like an elevator that Nike bought a full wraparound ad on. Was it worth it?

You remind me of how a little middle school shit comports himself. Peacockily to conceal a desperate sense of inadequacy. At least that kid’s brain isn’t fully developed yet.

I wonder what a Zen monk would think of you. I wonder exactly what a Zen monk, the kind who’s a kung-fu expert, would really say if he saw you standing there in Retro Fitness in a matching top to bottom Nike neon camo spandex workout outfit. I really wonder about that monk, who spent many long years walking up and down rough stone staircases on his knuckles and kicking a tree for fun, would say about you, a guy who has a desk job and a whole drawer full of tights that don’t even come down to your ankles for some reason. Meanwhile here’s the monk, who wears the same dirty garment every day and can do a full flip and kick your ass with any single one of his four major appendages. This monk is just sitting over here silently against the wall and observing you, a guy who leases a new Mitsubishi Galant, doing isolation curls in some kind of Nike Pro Hypercool top that was designed for a rejected Batman storyboard. Let me tell you what that monk would think about you, looking like Fitness Joseph in His Technicolor DreamSpandex Dumbass Coat: nothing. Zen monks don’t think. Looks like you and the monk have something in common.

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To be quite perfectly and completely honest, if I ever see you in the gym in an outfit that you clearly took more than three seconds to consider for its aesthetic qualities, I will never respect you again as long as I live even if you go on to win a variety of Nobel Prizes in unrelated fields. Sure, maybe if you were some sort of world champ with an over-the-top personality who dresses like a showman to boost your TV ratings, it would be different story. But that’s not you, is it? No. We both know that’s not you. You are the guy who painstakingly purchased a wardrobe of color-coordinated spandex clothing items in bold, gaudy colors for the express purpose of mixing and matching those so as to look super fresh at the gym. You’re supposed to go to the gym to sweat but instead you go to the gym to look super fresh. You know what’s not super fresh? Sweat. Sweat is dirty and you’re all too clean. Sweat puddles on the floor and all you do is lay on the floor in plank position exhibiting the color pattern of a melted “Blue Razzberry” slushie. I don’t think they give slushie coloration matching awards at the local gymnasium. But maybe I’m wrong? I’m only an experienced part time online fitness columnist who is quoted by name in the marketing copy for the Randall J. Strossen classic “Super Squats. What do I know?

Just wear some dirty old shit you dirty old blit!


The “I of the Tiger” archives are here and here.