It appears to me that the central hub of nearly all Tooele society is Gold’s Gym. I’ve heard that when Gold’s Gym opened a couple years ago it had more membership applications in the first 20 minutes than all other gyms in the world combined. I’m sure the gym has its appeal for different reasons for different people. For me it was this: While savoring the juicy fat of my 10,933rd Slim Jim I was blessed with a vision of my own mortality as my cholesterol-pugged heart decided to skip a few beats as a warning that it was joining the Organ Workers Local #232 and was demanding the same conditions my flabby muscles were getting—not an ounce of real work since they pushed my lazy butt out of the womb.
The appeal of Gold’s Gym seems to span the whole spectrum of humanity. In addition to the fat and flabby like myself (where the staff are saying to themselves “Man, I sure hope we can save him”), there are these little women there with chicken-bone legs running on the treadmills at a pace that would impress a cheetah while reading Runner magazine. Now, how can you have a monthly magazine about running? There has got to be only so much you can write about planting one foot in front of the other at a high rate of speed. Of course there are a myriad of things you can write about running from, but you’ve got to start repeating yourself when you’re just talking about the mechanical logistics of getting your juicy buttocks out of that cheetah’s line of sight.
There is also the “bulked-up” crowd that you know spent years to get their perfectly ripped bodies to the state of Roman godhood definition. I’m not sure it is possible they could have gotten that way in the couple or so years Gold’s Gym has been in town. They are only there to show off and mock us mortals (and possibly spawn a demigod or two). I’m okay with that though, because, unlike most of those guys, I still have most of my hair. It may be gray and greasy, but it’s there. Some of them may just shave their heads to show off the muscles they’ve developed there, but I think most are only working for the body of a Greek statue because they lost the ability to grow the glossy-sheened head-warmer I still got. They need to eat more Slim Jims.
Another attraction of Gold’s Gym may be the fact that it is just about the only high-class joint Tooele has to hang out in. Heaven forbid we actually get a decent bookstore or performing arts theatre. When you must adjust your folding chair to align with the Magic Marker spot on the floor to see a concert pianist perform, in Carnegie Hall ye are not.
So, since almost everyone in town goes there, observations at Gold’s Gym should be a sociologist’s dream. For instance, if you ever want a visual of the fundamental differences between men and women you need only watch the aerobics classes. There is something about the social herding instinct in women that drives them to share sweat with total strangers while taking orders from some twenty-something tart with a body a thousand times better than anything nature blessed them with. Once in a great while you may see a guy sweating it up in there with them, but we all know he is only doing it for his wife. He is the unfortunate victim of the “talk” about how “we as a couple need to start doing more things together—to grow closer by shared experience.” Oh, he’s getting closer to something all right, by the miserable look on his face, I’d say closer to hell. His wife, right next to him, is giving him beaming looks thinking she’s finally won over the soul-mate she always hoped for. We guys on the outside, know exactly what’s going on, though. About a week ago the dude made the common mistake of “back-talking” his wife with a thoroughly well-thought-out rational argument but now he wants some so he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. If we men cared about each other like women do, we would have developed an international secret sign of solidarity and would give it through the window of the aerobics room to our fallen comrade. It would convey to the beaten man, a victim of his own hormonal needs, that we understand. That we’ve all been in his boat, and that though we haven’t screwed up to the point of going with her to an aerobics class (yet), we can relate. But, we’re men, and as such we can only point and laugh. “So how’s the dog house been? Is that Kibbles N Bits I see in your hair?”
Yet another appeal of Gold’s Gym is that steam room they’ve got. When you walk in there, you can’t help feeling you’ve stepped into a Star Wars Intergalactic Transport Vessel. The white seats are formed out of the wall swooping in Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City style. You don’t want to stay in that steam too long, though. There was a young blonde sitting across from me one time when I closed my eyes for a minute. I must have fallen asleep, because when I opened them again there appeared an old wrinkly bald person sitting in her seat sighing out death-rattles. I had to ooze myself out the door and wait for my body fluids to congeal again before making it back to the locker room.
The movie theater room may be the main attraction, however. I wouldn’t know because after my one experience there, I’m never going back. I had entered the room during a night scene of Batman Returns and it wasn’t until my hand inadvertently hit a sweaty butt that I realized I was on the same bloody treadmill behind some other dude.
The gym’s personal workout trainers are another great feature. I was offered a free session with one once. He probably thought I needed all the help I could get. After an hour of pushing me to do “just one more rep” with half-pound weights while blood vessels in my eyes were popping and a huddle of every cute girl in the world was standing there pointing and laughing, I could see him worryingly calculating what it would cost him to save me. He finally said it would be a real Herculean task, but he could possibly get me into a shape other than “pear” in about 10 years of intense and humiliating daily workouts. Since I was a “special” case it would have to run about twice his normal monthly fee plus expenses. I said I would have to consult my Fiscal Responsibility Manager (my wife) to see. She said no, but only after two hours of pouring through the family finances to see where we could scrape it together. Disturbing.
I’m sure there are many more reasons Gold’s Gym appeals to so many Tooele residents, young and old, ripped and flabby, and I think they’re all good. Since going there, I for one, have become more aware of my health, or the lack thereof. I found, for instance, to work off the effects of one Slim Jim takes about 300 hours of intense cheetah running on the treadmill, 600 reps on the “Humiliater 2000” machine, two days of grease-exfoliating softening in the steam room, and 16 sessions of therapy after a movie theatre incident. Now that I think about it, maybe I should just hire some union-busting scabs to show my heart who’s boss… Wow! Those gates are sure pearly! Do you see those…?