A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
ABOUT ME ABOUT THE SMOKE SMOKE A-Z

SMOKE: Gym For Dummies

Originally published: 4 May 2005

I went to gym once.

My humblest apologies, all you metal-heads and Nick Cave fans - I know that's letting the side down somewhat but I assure you it was only a temporary madness and will never be repeated again.

Goats still rock, man. Bullet in the head.

I've never claimed to be a fitness fanatic, although I did make some pathetic attempts as a kid, none of which ever lasted.

I've never been very limber - I still dream of the day when I manage to touch my knees for the first time, let alone my feet. Not being supple means you struggle to do a lot of commonly accepted exercises, which is pretty frustrating.

Since I had my back operation in 1997 I've been stiff as a board and most forms of exercise are out of the question.

A year or two back I decided to fix my problems by going to the gym. I went the whole hog - I went to the Sports Science Institute in Newlands, which supposedly specialises in the rehabilitation of injuries.

What a load of horseshit. I've never been to a more unprofessional place in my life and the damage they did to my back set me back about two years. That's correct - the damage they did, not the healing.

Some bored part-timer got assigned to me and after listening to all my ailments (I was very specific when telling him my back problem - it doesn't get much more specific than an L4/5 discectomy and spinal fusion) he drew up what was supposed to be a programme of exercise that would take my back into account and set me on the road to Wellville.

But the swine obviously wasn't listening properly (he kept getting interrupted in our session by his cellphone) and the programme he drew up only lasted me two weeks before I was forced to quit the gym in agony.

Naturally I was severely pissed off and complained about it, and my programme was examined by someone else. He tut-tutted when he saw the exercises I'd been given and said he was baffled as to why I was given the treadmill and rowing exercises in particular, and offered to draw up a new programme for me.

I declined. You only get one shot at messing my back up - I'm no rocket scientist but not even an idiot would go back for more of that.

So I only spent two weeks at gym, but it was enough to frighten me away for a lifetime. If you're determined to sweat it out in one, however, I have some tips you may find useful.

Firstly - be sure you have at least two and a half hours spare in your day. The gym part of it takes no longer than an hour at most but the travelling, changing, showering and whatnot take up huge chunks of time - something I never have at my disposal.

Next - you may want to consider not actually entering the gym at all, as you should get plenty of exercise just getting there. There is never any parking at a gym - many others have told me so - and a five-block walk one way translates into 10 blocks both ways and a decent 20-minute walk up hill and down dale.

I was always buggered by the time I got to the turnstiles and if I'd been a fraction smarter I would simply have gone through the revolving arms, turned back and come straight out again.

I'd have got just as fit and I wouldn't have had my discs crushed and shins splinted by the relentless thudding of my feet onto the hard treadmill.

Another thing to consider is how you look before you go to gym for the first time. Be sure you're ripped and muscled and intensely gorgeous - nobody likes a fat, unconditioned, lazy slob in their gym.

"What - you got no pride in yourself? Get some exercise, you fat turd, then come back to work out with the beautiful people. You disgust us, man."

If you use the showers in the gym - upon your head be it, alright? Personally I never went near the things, as I find it slightly unnatural to be standing in the half-warm water of a thousand piss-stained feet before me.

Okes wash their nuts in there, bru - their asses. You comfortable splashing around in the accumulated sweat, fungi, pubes and klingons that swim around your ankles? Okes are filthy, man - you don't want to be showering with them. What's wrong with you?

I've actually always hated communal showers - school life was full of them and it's no wonder my toes were always stuck together with fungus jam and pus. That water is deadly.


Ditto with the indoor pool at the gym, mind you. I don't do public pools or even beaches where there are hundreds of people in the water. Okes piss in there, china - they fart and piss and spit and hell knows what else, and you want me to swim around in that mess of human excretion?

I don't know where people have been and I really don't need to know either.

And what about all those machines in the middle? The ones you use to raise weights with your legs and pull weights down with your arms and so forth? Ridiculous, man!

You're always the twattie who has one weight and struggles to pull it up, while some chick behind you has four of the bastards stacked up and is pulling them up and down like a jackrabbit on mescaline.

It's embarrassing. I wheezed and puffed away for two weeks and still hadn't moved up a single weight. All I had to show for it was a few new veins in my neck and a quietly developing thrombosis.

Finally - don't smile warmly at the chicks behind the reception desk - ever. They take it as a personal affront and you're lucky if they don't call security.

Which is a little sad, really. You've just finished your workout - feeling a little buff, a little phwoar, a little manly - and you flick over your best smile as you fling your towel around your neck and imagine the adoring glances.

But you're still a fat twat and those chicks just loathe you, dude. They only like ripped okes and anyone else is obviously a fat bag of shit. Smile at them and it's practically a lawsuit for sexual harassment.

Uptight little bitches. Go down a bucket of steroids, you bimbos.

Nah - gym isn't for me. Besides - I've been eyeing that Orbitrek that Verimark is punting and the guy who does my back reckons a stepper like that is fine for a back like mine.

And bonus - I get to smoke while exercising.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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