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Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Music and movement

About 6 years ago I joined a comedy goldmine of a gym not far from my place of work next to Tower Bridge in London. Situated at the point where the financial district joined Tower Hamlets it was a place of extraordinary contrasts where East London wideboys and stockbrokers slugged it out both in the weights room and the squash courts in an oddly jovial manner - they had much more in common than I had expected.

When I left the world of regular exercise some 4 years ago the gym soundtrack was the kind of "popular dance" music that is played only in gyms and the 'pack 'em to the rafters and sell 'em rubbish" meatmarket chain nightclubs - one of the songs is even called "I'm a cheap drink kind of girl". On returning to gym membership I have discovered that little has changed, except maybe the girls in the music videos now wear even less. The music itself combines a repetitive synth track with with minimal repetitive vocals in a high register (normally female). In the intervening years the only thing that seems to have changed with this kind of music is the use of a vocoder. It's not an improvement.

The comedy at most gyms is to be derived from the extremes of humanity on display and just how oddly people behave in a situation that is essentially public but where selected social mores are ignored. This is probably more pronounced to me because ai find that the Aussies tend to be quite a private bunch however uninhibited and easy going they may seem. In the gym in London the showers were communal and it was all the rage to flop about the changing rooms wearing nothing but a cheeky smile until actually ready to leave. In the very nice newly built gym I go to here there are separate cubicles and the towel round the waist is the post-shower garment of choice.

There is one very notable exception; a body-builder so large that looks like someone shaved a silverback gorilla and didn't quite finish the job. The gorilla likes to stretch out post workout in the steamroom. To do so he stands on the first platform, which is about 75cm high, in the nude. This puts parts of him that no-one in their right mind would want to see at eye level. There is a large mirror opposite and simply nowhere to look when he's doing this. Having finished stretching out he then stands in front of the mirror and performs a variety of flexed poses. When the "fitnesss manager" called me the other day - his name is Brad, obviously - and asked me about my goals I told him that one of them was to be able to tell this freak what I think of his eye-watering behaviour and then be able to run fast enough to survive doing so. Tellingly Brad didn't laugh.