Ode To Gym-Related Oneupmanship

Henry Luehrman
by Henry Luehrman
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Ode To Gym-Related Oneupmanship

All right, Tarzan (or is it Dan?), the treadmill thing was cute last month, but now it’s just getting tedious. Yes, there was a time when, from a distance, the sheer volume of your sweat was awe-inspiring. But now, from the treadmill next to you, it’s just wet. And I have enough trouble not slipping in my own sweat, let alone trying to navigate both our puddles.

The thing is, Dan, I may be legally blind without my glasses in the morning, but I see what you’re doing. I know when you approach the dumbbells next to me that you’re taking the ones weighing just five pounds heavier. I know that with each exercise, you’re taking my count and adding just one more to each of your cycles. I know that you relish leaving every machine 20 pounds too heavy so I have to sheepishly adjust it before I start. And when I do, you’re staring at me in hopes of some brief, awkward eye contact.

I try to get away from you, Dan, really I do. But there’s one of you in every gym. You’re the lanky high schooler (Izzy) jaunting past me on the track, the deceptively fit grandfather (Carl) a lap ahead in the pool who won’t let me close the distance, no matter how hard I flail. There are dozens of you, but you’re my archenemy, Dan. Monday through Thursday, Bikram to Barry’s. And we’ll probably never speak.

See, what’s likely going to happen is that I’m going to take this all out on Cathy in hot yoga class. She’s got a strong plank, Cathy, but she can’t touch my wall-side headstand. And I know she dreads mat selection in the mornings when I find her and make the same remark about waiting for my double shot soy latte to kick in, but you know what? You did this to me, Dan. You did it to Cathy, too. Because everyone else can apparently do full splits at will, so it’s not like I have a choice.

What do you get out of it, I wonder, when you scale more fake stairs than I do on the stair-climber? Is it a simple Darwinian urge to assert dominance at each possible opportunity? Or is it relief you’re after, to know that there was never a scenario you could have won that you didn’t?

Here’s the irony, Dan — I think you need me. I see it, on the days when I slow my pace to just above a crawl and see you adjust accordingly. When I stop jump roping next to you and take an extra long water break while you keep skipping, waiting for me to clear the room so you can stop.

What you don’t know is I’ve been working overtime on the weekends, core-clenching in secret and just pretending to top out at the same pace every weekday morning. One of these days, Dan, I’m going to be your Dan. And you’re going to be my Cathy. And then this will all have been worth it.

About the Author

Henry Luehrman
Henry Luehrman

Henry Luehrman is an LA-based hamburger enthusiast and lover of plush armchairs. He often starts his runs with absolutely no idea where or how far he’s going. Usually, he finds his way back again.

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