In My Own Space

First set foot in the gym as a weedy 15-year old,

Part of school sport, at that point never lifted before,

Travelled by bus with fellow signees and a couple of teachers,

Can’t forget first impressions when we made it to our final destination,

Seemed like a jungle of steel parts designed to pump one into jacked-ness,

Posters on the walls of honey-glazed folks, looking ripped and yoked, hard work does pay off,

Heaved and lifted what I could, no structure, it was all experimental,

Worked the mirror muscles, mainly, but in the end felt indestructible,

Was a chubby kid previously before graduating to skinny teen,

Little did I know that day life’s path was laid before me,

Years later still at it, can’t believe it’s been almost a quarter century,

Still no expert, though, forever a student, learned plenty along the way, the decline in gym etiquette included.

Ain’t trained in a public space for years and years now,

The bedroom, two dumbbells and a punching bag’s sufficient anyhow,

The body can work wonders when the mind is determined, sets, tempo and reps manipulated, if jailbirds can get swole sans fancy equipment then surely a homebody is more than capable,

Home’s where the heart is, so they say, when it comes to grinding sure seems that way,

Got very little say in a public space where rules are scrapped day by day,

Fools be leaving benches unwiped, nasty sweat patches glistening under gym lights,

Failing to re-rack what they’d been using, in their wake potential tripping hazards,

Others hogging equipment like they own ‘em, oblivious to the queue forming around them,

Not far from them, in front of the mirror, egotists glued to their phones when they really should be hustling,

Not just taking pictures or recording sessions, talking ‘bout full on scrolling and possible cyber chatting, priorities out of order but that’s how they’re rolling,

Gone are the days of heads down and popping, nothing but blood, sweat and tears,

If you ain’t here for business then what the hell are you doing here?

Then there are the rats side-eyeing and engaged in some not-so-subtle sightseeing,

Shit is predatory and a violation, but another special group must be mentioned,

Those calling out bad behaviour but not always for reasons legit,

Hurling accusations of perving upon unsuspecting strangers just going about their business,

Spreading that shit online, hoping that their targets be named and shamed,

Pretty serious labelling there, you see why many opt to live like hermits? 

On top of sharing space with the inconsiderate, high chance now of baseless finger-pointing,

So I stay put in here, my own sanctuary, sure beats blowing money on those hectic fees.

Can’t stress this enough, no one’s lumping them under the same umbrella,

The majority still in it for the right reasons, striving for self-improvement and lending a hand where it’s needed,

Respect, overall, still rules above all, camaraderie built within these walls, countless friendships and relationships are born,

Sadly there exists the foolish few ruining it for all, is it really too much to pick your shit up off the floor?

To get rid of distractions until after the session, surely your health is more important,

It’s no internet café, club or social space, shut up and run you some miles and lift you some weights, gotta lock in and stay on course, you’ve barely worked up a lather, ain’t wobbly like a newborn colt,

Might as well rock up with blinders on in case those eyes stray towards the forbidden,

Folks from both genders flaunting their assets but get offended when others be checking ‘em,

Talk about simultaneously self-promoting like they’re hoping to be spotted then crying victim when that secret objective is completed,

A glance ain’t always intentional, and if you’d put in the work they’re sure to be inspired by ya,

You’re hawking your junk all over social media so what’s the difference if they notice ya?

But if those eyes linger for too long and they’re sending not-so-subtle-signals, could be a sign of some nasty intentions in which case they deserve to be reported,

The long and short of it, the gym’s a shared space and there are rules in place,

Disrespecting where you’re visiting, fuck outta here with your self-righteousness and sense of entitlement,

Go hard or go home, it’s a time honoured rule around here, leave your ego out of it, hard work trumps clout-chasing, stay in your lane and make you those gains.

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