Sweat Socially

The gym is a great equalizer: status, wealth, and social airs are generally tossed out the window since the assembled crowd—corporate bigwigs, bus drivers, unemployed actors, teachers—sweats under one roof in shorts, spandex, and T-shirts. (It's hard to take even a dignified CEO seriously when he's walking around with a sweaty crotch.)

Sure, there are the muscleheads flexing in the mirror and beauty queens sashaying around the room, but just about everyone in attendance is there for similar reasons that serve to unite us.

Although each gym is different, in general the social dynamics in a gym are amusing: a curious combination of neighborhood watering hole, soap-opera set, and endorphin commune. You'll be able to discuss the big game, mourn the stock market losses, hear about the latest movie, and dish the dating gossip. But, unlike a bar or party where there's a premium placed on "making a connection," the gym is a lower-pressure conversation zone—the best of both worlds. You can chat if you like or remain mum and pump iron with a purpose.

We've worked out next to people for years and never done more than bat an eye in their direction; other gym rats become fast and lasting friends. And we've peacefully coexisted silently next to familiar faces only to find out one day that they are excellent company. That's part of the fun about hanging out in a place filled with aspiration.

As we mentioned in Chapter 1, "Let's Get Physical," Deidre and Jonathan met at Hunter College gym. And Joe and Deidre met at their gym in Brooklyn. The three of us are quite serious about working out—heck, Deidre can deadlift a compact car and has won two World Powerlifting titles—but when you encounter a smiling face you just can't help but schmooze. Before you know it, you're part of a healthy subculture—a fitness cult!

It's interesting to note that more and more businesses are finding that a healthy and relaxed employee is a more productive employee, and an employee who is less likely to take sick days. That's why corporate fitness centers are appearing all over the country. If your company provides an on-site gym (or has a contract with one nearby), run, don't walk there ASAP. Many are free (or modestly priced) and often offer payroll deductions so that you never have to think about paying your gym bill. Furthermore, these facilities tend to be spiffy— stocked with all the amenities to leave you looking and smelling like a rose.

If, even after reading this chapter, you still find yourself saying, "Well, yeah, working out is cool, but being around all those sweaty apes isn't my cup of tea," turn to Chapter 3 where we'll discuss the pros and cons of working out at home. We'll familiarize you with some of the better home equipment and show you how to get a safe and efficient workout under your own roof.

The Least You Need to Know

>- It's important to try not to fall prey to excuses that will keep you from meeting your fitness goals.

Choose your workout time with care, but you have plenty of options: before work, at lunch, after work, and on weekends.

>- View working out not as an option or a hardship, but instead as a joyous and necessary part of life's journey.

>- Joining a gym just might expand your social life—if you want.

Chapter 3

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