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Welcome to towel-free toning, where fitness is no sweat

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Mark Rutledge


Saturday, July 20, 2019

The last time I belonged to a health club was during the 1980s. Now they call them fitness clubs. I call them sweat clubs.

I was actually going to start this column with, “I’m waiting for a fitness club to name itself ‘Sweat Club.’” But I Googled my idea and discovered that it’s been done already, in New Jersey.

The club’s Facebook page immediately towels off the establishment by describing it as “a boutique-style gym offering private personal training and unique group fitness classes.”

It sounds unconventional, but I like the idea of “boutique-style” workouts that are as free of body fluids as humanly possible. Jogging is an exception. I don’t mind sweating and jogging at the same time, so long as both occur outdoors.

Treadmills probably should be outlawed. Running side-by-side on giant hamster wheels while leaking from every pore is no way for humans to interact.

My workplace provides an awesome workout room, which is convenient and much appreciated. A perfect visit to the workout room is when I have it all to myself, with the music off and the lights bright.

Several regular users of the workout room share a bizarre preference for exercising with the lights dimmed. I’m not sure why the option even exists. Perhaps they belong to an exercise boutique that strives for a certain ambiance.

I looked it up. Yep, it’s a trend.

If I arrive first, most others will politely leave the lights at full throttle. I was asked once, though, to kindly dim the lights.

“Working out for me,” the man actually said, “is a time to just escape the brightness and totally internalize my focus.”

Sounds to me like a good way to accidentally internalize someone else’s sweat.

There is at least one occasional user of the workout room with overactive sweat glands. Some of us refer to him as Rain Man because of the large droplets and small puddles he leaves behind.

When Rain Man has left the building, the house lights definitely stay up.

An aversion to close encounters with the sweat of others likely led to my low participation in organized youth sports. Whenever I see professional basketball players hugging each other during a heated game, I lose any sense whatsoever that they might be grossly overpaid.

The worst hour of my public schooling had to do with a test, but not the paper-and-pencil kind. It was during eighth-grade gym class, when the wrestling coach herded us into a hot and humid room above the indoor swimming pool — his yearly hunting ground for prospective team members.

Two by two, the coach instructed us to take turns at attempting to escape a full nelson. For the blissfully unfamiliar, a full nelson hold is when both arms are placed under the opponent’s armpits from behind with the hands pressed against the back of the opponent’s neck.

I was paired with Rain Boy. The nightmares never went away.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to shower.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.