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The Song And Dance We All Play At The Front Desk Of The Gym

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Somehow the worst part of my daily routine has become walking into the gym. And it’s not the working out that makes me dread walking in there. It’s far more simplistic, callous, and rude than that.

I take my key card out of my pocket and hand it to the same person working the front desk every morning. It’s always a “Hey, how are you today?” and then a quick “I’m good, how are you doing?” in reply. This is followed by a few seconds of waiting as the computer recognizes the key card and I’m free to go.

But that ten or fifteen-second interaction I have four, maybe five times per week if I’m feeling like I really want to better myself, is absolutely killing me. I just don’t feel as if I can take it much longer.

I go to the gym not because I enjoy the natural high that comes after a good workout but because I’m incredibly vain. I like looking at myself in the mirror, and that is an activity that is much easier to do when you’re in shape. I find everything about a workout boring. It’s just an hour straight of going through the same motions week in and week out, and that includes the conversations that I feel like I’m forced to have when I’m walking into the gym beforehand and afterward.

I’ve been frequenting this gym now for about a year, and in that time I’ve counted three people who work exclusively at the front desk. I recognize their faces and vice versa and for some reason every time I walk in I dread having the conversation because they know what I’m going to say and I know what they’re going to say.

It feels like I should be saying more to these people than just “I’m good, how are you doing today?” but I can’t figure out what it is I should be saying to them. I mean they’re at work. When I’m at work, the last thing I want to do is talk to anyone and I assume it’s the same for them. The only reason they ask me how I’m doing every morning is because they’re required to by a boss.

I’m not going to sidle up to the check-in counter every day and have a ten-minute chat about the weekend I just had or my commute to work, okay? Nobody wants to have a conversation like that.

A simple exchange of pleasantries with a front desk worker at a local gym should be no big deal, but for a person like myself, human interaction does not always come easily. I overanalyze things frequently and this can make for high-pressure situations in my mind but not in others.

So let’s get the social anxiety theory out of the way first and foremost. Everyone has social anxiety whether they want to admit it or not. It’s not that big of a deal and I don’t think anxiety is what I’m experiencing when I hand my card over to get scanned.

It’s more so the fact that I just feel like the whole thing is worthless. Why does societal norm dictate that I have to engage in some meaningless two sentence conversation with a total stranger? My “Good, how are you doing today” every single time I walk in is a part of my membership fee to this gym.

In a perfect world, I would love to walk up to that counter and just say “Hey, can we stop doing this little song and dance every time I come in here?” but this isn’t an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Theoretically speaking, I don’t have to participate in this conversation. But not participating would also make me look like a huge dickhead. I mean I am a huge dickhead but I refuse to be one in this situation.

I refuse to believe that there aren’t others like me out there that can resonate with this. Honestly, I think my chances would be pretty good if I went up to the woman who usually works the front desk and politely asked if we could just stop talking to one another, but there’s just no way I’ll ever do that. I’m too scared.

So I’ll continue to wallow in self-dread about this awkward, meaningless conversation every single time I check into my local gym because I don’t have the balls to do anything about it. The good news is I haven’t seen any new members join my gym this month, and God knows we all hate that shit. So I got that going for me… which is nice.

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Johnny D

fashion icon. @dudaronomy on twitter. e-mail: jduda10@gmail.com

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