I recently joined a local gym. I like going for walks - and it rains in Pune for three months. And it is a bore to take a rain coat or hold an umbrella while walking. As much as I hate plunking cash for running in the same place, I had no choice - and I decided to join the gym.
It is a whole new world inside this gym. It has a character of its own, an ecosystem of its own, to say the least.
There are few types of people who visit this gym. First, there are the "gym-bodies" (who happen to be mostly men) who wear sleeveless baniyans to show off how much muscle they have built-up, and keep admiring their own muscles almost non-stop, by flexing it, swinging their arms, or generally looking very menacing and glancing at themselves in the mirror every half a second.
These gymbodies are some of the vainest creators you could find on the planet. From the moment they walk into the gym they will put out this vibe of "hey man, look at my muscles, and yes, you may faint in admiration or kiss the floor I walk on, and I won't mind". Their faces filled with pride and anticipating compliments from everyone who lays eyes on them. They are mankind's answer to the shenanigans of a peacock. And they move in flocks - they help out each other with the weights, and motivate each other, and generally stick to themselves, unless some mere mortal non-gymbody talks to them.
The other group is the mid-level or higher mid-level corporate or IT guys (and gals). All of them have "soft forms". Let me explain what I mean by that. This is the form you achieve after several thousand hours of cubicle/office work - staring at the computer, and doing little else. The body sort of flows top-down in such cases - the upper body and the arms seem drained, and all the prosperity has found its way into the mid-part of the body and hid itself conveniently - so much so that some short burst of exercise is not going to help. These guys have nice little paunches peeking through their nike-or-reebok t-shirts, wear glasses, and very expensive gym-gear, and give out a general feeling of being terribly lost or completely out of place. They would probably feel much better if someone reunites them with their laptop (with internet connection). They walk around with their workout cards (which prescribes the workout routine you have to follow to improve your "health score") - which doesn't help their image anyway. They might as well wear a "I have no idea what I am doing here - my wife/colleague/friend talked me into it - please help me" card around their necks.
And then there is this "super-rich-above-65" crowd. These are "thathas" and "paatis" who are ultra rich and want to live forever, by working the crap out in the gym, and by being super fit. They try to be hip, and always have a "personal trainer" who dotes on them every second, and follows them around like the vodafone puppy. Once they finish their sessions, they have this silent triumphant expression on their faces (mentally sending a memo to Lord Yama: Kindly park yourself and your buffalo somewhere and have some tea and wait, delayed arrival expected).
The personal trainers are a story in themselves. First of all, they are indicators of class segregation in the gym. People who hire personal trainers are loaded, others not so much. So, if you book a one-hour session with the personal trainer, he or she continuously attends to you, guides you and motivates you by giving cat-calls like "yesss", "you can do it", "come-on", "very good" and so on. And these personal trainers are by definition fit/young and jovial - and there is some inevitable borderline flirting going on with some of the subjects. (All the gymbodies are in very good terms withe the personal trainers - for obvious reasons - birds of the same kind…)
The gym itself is a odd mixture of exercise spot, night club and a tribal village center. The noise level inside the gym is unbelievable - the DJ blasts some supposedly upbeat songs/soundtracks continuously - I guess to mask and drownout the sounds of the cat-calling personal trainers, the treadmills and other background noises. And there is this "spin" room - where they flash some psychedelic laser lights (in an otherwise dark room), play some "fast" videos, and where I have seen people cycle and work out like maniacs. Happy gymming.