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Foghorn Leghorn June 17, 2008

Posted by KG in fitness, Mumbai.

One of the first things I did after we settled in was join a gym (I’m predictable). It’s a Gold’s (yes, there are Gold’s Gyms in India), and happily it is about a ten minute walk away, about as close as my gym was in DC. And like most Gold’s, it’s main clientele is, well…

India has recently, it seems, become fitness obsessed — and not with yoga. The most popular physical fitness export of India seems to enjoy about as much popularity in uber-cosmopolitan Bombay as it does in the US — or maybe even less. My gym’s single studio room is dedicated to spinning. Searches for actual yoga studios have revealed a few, none in our neighborhood. And we live in what is supposed to be the “queen of the suburbs”! (Really.)

Gymgoers here, for the most part, seem obsessed with beach muscles. I’ve seen three people (of both genders) performing squats at the gym. Two doing deadlifts. Three doing pullups. And the gym, like everywhere else in Greater Mumbai, is almost always crowded with people. Frankly, it’s a bit frustrating to see so many men doing tricep extensions, bicep curls, and shrugs — out of shape men, preening like roosters as they examine their (sometimes nonexistent) muscles in the mirror. The only folks I’ve ever seen sweating are the ones on the (numerous) treadmills and elliptical machines.

Then, there’s the music. If your eyes were closed, you could easily mistake the gym for a nightclub. There’s always an in-house DJ, playing music at max volume to (I guess) help motivate the members. Which makes listening to your own music difficult. When the music goes from banal to atrocious, my focus almost inevitably goes out the window.

I don’t mean to complain (that much). I have a gym, and it has a nice, small corner where I can set up for my own ridiculous needs. The location is great. The strange and somewhat dismissive looks I get there are frustrating, but they are tolerable. But the prevailing workout philosophy here feels so retrograde Ahnuld/80s, like I’m reading an old issue of Flex magazine. I can’t wait to see what happens when I show up carrying my kettlebell.



1. Tom - June 17, 2008

This entry reminds me a lot of when I went to a gym in Italy — well, except nobody was in particularly good shape, or using as much weight as they ought to have been. I was never a very impressive lifter (and am a downright pathetic one these days), but the staff would repeatedly approach me and ask, in halting English, that I not do what I was doing lest I get hurt and sue them (I’d signed a waiver). Things like… well, I don’t know what to call them — reverse sit-ups? — with a weight held to my chest were *outrageously* dangerous, supposedly. I don’t think I ever saw anyone putting up more than 135 lbs on the bench. I blame the metric system.

The music wasn’t a problem, fortunately. Sorry to hear it is for you — what about buying some Etymotic or Shure canalphones? They sound great, and block out nearly all ambient noise in a downright miraculous manner. The biggest source of sound impinging on your music will be your headphone cord bumping into stuff and the sound transmitted through the soles of your feet as you run.

2. Sister - June 26, 2008

You would.

3. The Calm Place « The Diplodocus - December 9, 2008

[…] course, complicating this is the gym’s incessant music.  But I’ve managed to practice fairly consistently, and somehow acclimate myself to […]

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