Sep 17, 2014

Fall 2006: My Personal Trainer

For twenty years, I only went to gay-specific gyms.  Who wanted to work out with a bunch of heterosexual gym rats talking about breasts and making homophobic jokes?  So I went to:

1. The Hollywood Spa (now the Hollywood Gym) on LaBrea, less than a mile from Alan's apartment in West Hollywood.
2. L.A. Fitness on Wilshire.
3. The Sunset Gym on Lincoln Way in San Francisco.
4. Crunch Gym in Manhattan.
5. Barney's Gym in Wilton Manors.

But in 2005 I  moved to Dayton, where there were no gay-specific gyms.  I had no choice but to try the Better Bodies Fitness Center.

Sure enough, whenever I worked out, I heard constant "bzz bzz bzz girls bzz bzz bzz girls bzz bzz bzz girls” like background music.  Plus snippets of :
“Lots of fine ladies here tonight!”
“Man, she was hot!”
“I wish he was single, he’d bag her in a minute!”

One day as I was plodding along on the treadmill at my middle-aged speed, the tall, lanky hunk on the tread-mill to his left kept glancing over at me. Was he interested, I wondered, or just waiting to administer CPR?  We jogged in silence for awhile, and his glances became more bold, more openly appreciative. So I smiled and said hello.

He smiled in return. “She’s pretty hot, huh?

It seems that the whole time he had been glancing past me, at a lady jogging to my right.

The mistake is commonplace – how often have you returned a startlingly enthusiastic greeting from an acquaintance or stranger, only to discover that someone else was being addressed? Today, however, it reinforced my awareness that I was an interloper in Kansas, a stranger – it had never occurred to me that he might be looking at the lady to my right, and it had never occurred to him that I might be looking at anyone else.

But the worst heterosexism came in the fall of 2006, when I hired a personal trainer.


Thomas was bronze, buffed, and cheery, with a severe military buzz-cut and the granite-chiseled jaw of a sports announcer. He was a semi-pro bodybuilder, with a few minor awards but not enough money or endorsements to quit his day job.

Gay or straight?  Not enough evidence to determine, until he read from my chart, “So you want to lose weight, increase your muscle mass, get popular with the ladies?"

I protested that I didn't want to get popular with the ladies, but Thomas was already heading toward an incline press machine.

Three sets of twelve reps later, he returned to the la-ies: “You have pretty broad shoulders already, so you should concentrate on your pecs. Women go crazy over a nice chest!"

I decided to go for a shock reveal: "So do I. But I go even crazier over six-pack abs. And biceps!  He could be the poster boy for ugly and eat cats for breakfast, and I’m still asking him out to dinner and a movie!"

But Thomas continued without comment or expression of surprise. “For the lateral raise, we’ll start you at thirty pounds.” He demonstrated, brick-wall chest against my back.  Then he said: “If you like the toned, athletic type, you should come in on Tuesday nights. You can take your pick of the muscle babes.”

Surely Thomas meant male “muscle babes”? At least, I pretended that was what he meant. “Great!” he exclaimed. “Are any of them gay?”

“No, no.  Nothing like that.” Thomas relieved me of the thirty-pound dumbbells. “I mean, if you do run into a lesbian, just move on to the next. There’s plenty of girls to go around.”

He still thought I was straight!

See also: My Relatives Still Closet Me; and The Secret Life of Rod the Pharmacist.

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