The one and only time I walked into a Planet Fitness was during a visit to Florida to see my dad during a work trip. I normally like to go for a run outside and then hit the weights inside but it was in the middle of August and I overslept past 6 am which means temps and humidity had already skyrocketed by 7 am.
My dad (who has long been divorced from my mom) is not the most fit man but in his early 70s he knows that cardio is good for his sex life and invited me to hit the gym where the A/C and music is turned all the way up.
His Planet Fitness is not unlike most across the U.S-located in a long winding strip mall front and center surrounded by commercial retailers like TJ Maxx. The same signature yellow and purple colors popping out like a cheap leisure suit.
However, inside it’s a geriatric hotspot and the place to be seen if you are a retiree and DTF. In the corner is a smoothie bar where a couple of baby boomer hotties (my dad’s description not mine) mingle in activewear and makeup.
Nearby on treadmills in the most coveted section of the gym two women in their 70s walk on the treadmill and complain about the condo association board and their ideas for punishment for people that don’t pick up dog poop in the common areas.
My dad is quick to introduce me to the geriatric hotties as “my son who never visits” and after a quick meet and greet, I bee-line it for a section of treadmills farthest away from where Fox News and CNN blare commentary on competing televisions.
I jump up on a treadmill in a darkened corner of the room and get ready to plug into my workout and headphones. Scanning the area, I see the same people that I have seen in every gym. In the weight room, and where my people are, a guy with a Burt Reynolds stash is giving it hell on his biceps. Not far from him is what appears to be his lady friend with the ass of a twenty-year-old. These are the gym rats of yesteryear and today. Unfortunately, they still love a savage tan so their skin is not on par with their physique.
Across the room, a group of “regulars” mingle around unoccupied elliptical machines and complain of sciatica and other ailments. They are serious about the gym but getting in a workout is second to socializing. These would be my dad’s people but he does insist on spending at least 20 minutes on the recumbent bike and sometimes he breaks a sweat.
I stick out like a sore thumb due to my age and I feel an unspoken resentment and might have heard the murmurs if I had taken the time to turn down my music. The truth is, there is no such thing as a “no judgements” gym no matter the age of patrons or the gym.
There are still the same regulars that are there to mingle, the same assholes lay claim to their treadmill in front of the TV, the gym rats police the amount of time on equipment and the hotties still show up in full makeup and perfectly-coordinated workout clothes.
Instead of stripping down to your birthday suit (like the guy that was recently arrested for doing naked yoga at a Planet Fitness), stop sweating being judged at the gym—who cares, you’re there to look great naked. At home. In the bedroom.