I am still a regular, sweaty face at the gym and it is now June. This means I have reached and breached the point of New Years resolution dissolution; I am still lifting things up, still putting them down, still doing ridiculous things on the butt machine in the corner that only ladies use and wondering why I don’t look like Beyoncé yet. I have lost all shame and now wonder why I don’t look like Beyoncé yet while standing in front of the mirrored wall, lifting one disappointing buttcheek up and letting it drop again, looking angry and disappointed at my butt, the butts in my immediate area, butts in general. Having tentatively gone for the four-month membership bracket instead of commitment unphobically launching into a 12-month direct debit that may or may not have resulted in my still being fat, I have now signed my semi-buff soul on for a whole ‘nother year. As such, I have some suggestions for how this place could be improved. Or one. I have one suggestion. It is this:
Instead of the infinite shopping channel with a bunch of men with terrible hair telling you how to get what is obviously a toupee and in no way achievable with a two-step shampoo system –
Instead of the men in collared T-shirts hitting balls into sandpits with sticks –
Instead of that DVD of Minder that inexplicably plays on that TV in the corner until that one personal trainer gets fired –
Instead of that: play Pumping Iron on a loop. Play Pumping Iron on a goddamn loop.
I think Pumping Iron – and I don’t think I’m alone here – is one of the greatest films you can watch in nine parts on YouTube. For starters there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, all smiles and absurd accent, being genuinely charming but mostly weird in tiny underpants.
Then there’s Lou Ferrigno in his pre-Incredible Hulk, pre-comic convention circuit, pre-losing his shit on Celebrity Apprentice days, living at home with his parents in Brooklyn and being told “Awh, Loo” by his sweet old pa and looking sad a lot because he can’t beat Arnie, who is busy walking around with some women literally hanging off his ridiculous body. There are the once-bullied, now beef-cake men in leopard print pants, walking around backstage looking for lost T-shirts and trying not to cry. There is literally no part of this film that you can skip to make tea.
Gym, if you play Pumping Iron on a goddamn loop you can take down those posters with stretching tips and instructions on how to use machines. We won’t need them. There’ll be big guys doing push ups with little oily guys sitting on their shoulders in a minimum of: one afternoon. Your members will benefit from Arnie’s motivational speeches. He will tell your wee guys not to hide away: he will tell them to bunch up their wee-guy muscles, spread out, be strong, pretend they’re just very far away. And your members will not disappear in February like they usually do, for we will know why it is that we go to this place, why we are making a big show of wiping butt-shaped sweat off machines like we’re not embarrassed about our phenomenally sweaty asses, why it is we are running on the spot, mindlessly, pointlessly, wondering if that guy’s hair is for real.
It is this:
“The greatest feeling you can get in the gym or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump,” says Arnie reclining by a pot plant (see below).
“Let’s say you train your biceps, blood is rushing into your moscles and dat’s what we call da pump. Your moscles get really tight feeling like your skin is going to explode any minute, it’s really tight, it’s like somebody blowing ear [IT’S WHAT HE SAID – Ed.] into it. It just blows up and it feels different, it feels fantastic.”
Gym, I can see you’re not convinced. But Arnie – he’s not finished.
“It’s as satisfying to me as coming is, you know. As having sex with a woman and coming. Can you believe how much I am in heaven?”
Can you believe how much he is in heaven?
“I am, like, getting the feeling of coming in the gym, I am getting the feeling of coming at home, I am getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose out in front of 5000 viewers, I get the same feeling. So I am coming day and night. I mean, it’s terrific, right? So, you know, I am in heaven.”
Every day we are going to the gym and we are coming all over your machines. You are welcome, Fitness First. You are most fucking welcome.
NB. Unsure if this applies to Pumping Iron II: The Women.