1. One calorie is a lot.
On a stair machine, you feel like you’ve just scaled the Eiffel Tower—but according to the display, you’re only halfway to working off that mini peppermint patty you scarfed yesterday morning.
2. Cable news is crazy.
At the gym, you’re surrounded by people watching cable news programs with screaming headlines like JOURNALIST: BILL COSBY IS BEING “CRUCIFIED” and CAN OBAMA LEARN ANYTHING FROM MARION BARRY?
3. No one tells you if you’re doing it wrong.
I spent several minutes using a weight machine before I realized that I was gripping and lifting the bars that are supposed to hold weights. In retrospect, I guess I should have realized that most people’s hands aren’t really that big.
4. You have muscles where you didn’t know you have muscles.
I don’t how how I pulled something in this triangular region behind my armpit, but all of a sudden playing Golden Tee is strangely painful.
5. Music shame is real.
Yes, I am a 39-year-old man working out to the Meghan Trainor EP, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Regardless, I think I’ll click the screen on my phone off…just, you know, to save power and all.
6. So is machine-wiping shame.
I don’t really need to towel this machine off, do I? I mean, it’s not like there’s sweat all over or…um…okay, yeah, I’d better give it a once-over.
7. You can sweat more than you ever realized you could sweat.
Seriously, where does it all come from? Will I ever need to pee again?
8. Some of the buffest people alive are super old.
You’re standing there doing your thing, and this guy walks past who looks like he survived the War of 1812—and he has the guns to prove it.
9. Uggs are everywhere.
I knew Uggs were still a thing, but I didn’t really understand that they’re the default uniform for going to the gym if you’re a woman (or an especially confident man) living in a cold-weather climate.
10. There’s no workout music like 80s workout music.
Yoga and zumba notwithstanding, workout culture in general is still kind of stuck in the 80s. The wall of my gym is covered in giant images of smiling men and women striking poses that wouldn’t be out of place on the cover of a Jane Fonda workout video, or an Olivia Newton-John record cover, or the box of a Get In Shape Girl! ribbon-dancing set. Every time I walk out of the locker room, I feel like someone should cue Survivor.
11. HOLY SHIT some people are strong.
I feel like I shouldn’t even be trusted carrying one of the weights that some people lift, like, four of. And this isn’t even an Olympic training gym—it’s just a generic gym in a Minneapolis mall. How many people are out there who could shot-put a Volkswagen?
12. The jock-y sense of pride sets in early.
What? You want to know what that little tag is that I have on my keychain? Oh, it’s just my gym tag. For when I work out. At the gym. You know, just pumping a little iron, doing a little cardio, maintaining the Greek god physique I have underneath this sweater vest.
13. Coming straight from the gym is a great excuse to drink and pig out.
Pro tip: choose your gym based on its proximity to an excellent tap selection and happy-hour nacho specials.