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Christmas at the Gym


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Christmas at the Gym

When I got to the gym, it was really quiet. They call the Christmas Season dead time but I love it. I don't like to have to deal with a crowd. The way I do my workouts, it's just easier when I don't have to reset every weight and machine.

My routine today was to start with a brisk 30 minutes on the exercise bike keeping the RMPs over 90.

After that I got into the rowing machine, set it for 200 pounds and did a set of 25.

My next station was the crunch machine that works my core. I set it up and did 25 reps.

Next was the inclined bench. Another 200 pounds and 25 reps.

Finally, I did 25 curls using free weights.

Once the curls were done, I made the way back to the rowing machine and started it all over again.

I do these exercises as fast as I can and go to the next one as quickly as I can. Most of the time I do 3 circuits of 5 with a break to catch my wind and get a drink of water between them.

While I was working out, a younger man appeared and started working with dumbells.

Two things immediately struck me about him. He had the long and lean look of a basketball player and... he was as cute as a basket full of speckled puppies.

After my second circuit the younger guy approached me at the water fountain and said, "It looks like you know what you are doing."

I shrugged and said, "I've been doing it a long time. If I don't, I'll be one of those fat guys you see at Walmart driving a scooter."

He grinned and asked, "Ummm... I hate to ask but I'm kinda under the gun. I play on the XXX XXXX tennis team and my coach told me to hit the gym and gain some weight. Could you help me? I don't know how to use half of the stuff in here and really can't afford a personal trainer."

I said, "I don't mind. Let me finish my last circuit and we'll familiarize you with the machines."

I did my last circuit and finished up. Then I went through the machines and showed the kid how they worked. As we talked I found out his name was Brad. He was really was under the gun. He was a very skinny sophomore and his scholarship depended on his performance. He needed strength and stamina to perform in those long, hot matches.

The bad part for the kid was he was all skin and bones. I started him off on core stuff: crunches and other stuff that worked on his chest and abdomen. Then we worked on his legs. We created a circuit for him to run through. The idea wasn't to use a ton of weight. We just wanted to give him something to build on.

After he had done five circuits, he was shot. On my advice he spent twenty minutes in the whirlpool. I wondered if he would show up the next day.

I gotta give the kid credit. He did show up for another day of punishment. That day we worked the arms, chest and back. I started him using the rowing machine. I like it but I'm old fashioned that way- It gives you complete range of motion and resistance.

Brad worked like a mule and I spotted him on the free weights parts. I was actually proud of the kid.

When we were done we went to the locker room. He was still sore from yesterdays work out. As he was emptying his pockets, a rainbow keyring fell out of his bag between us. He blushed furiously and asked, "Is that a problem?"

I put my arm around him and said, "Not at all little bro. It means we're family."

We put on our swim suits and went to sit in the hot tub for a while. Now the barriers were down, he told me that had been a big issue between him and his dad. It was better now that he was off at school but things were still very tense between them.

I asked him, "How did he find out?"

"He went snooping on my lap top when I was in 10th grade. Him and my Mom were waiting for me with the Pastor when I got home. There was a lot of yelling and I ended up staying at my cousins house for a few weeks but they settled down. Mom was better than Dad about it."

I said, "It's hard for fathers. Especially down here in the bible belt. I know it sucks but give it time."

He said, "There's stuff I'd like to talk about with them but they don't want to hear about it. My first kiss. My first crush. The first time. You know?"

"Yeah I know", I said. "We miss out on a lot of learning and growing simply because we can't trust the very people we should be able to talk to about this stuff because they merely tolerate us and don't want to hear about it."

After our time in the hot tub, we moved to the sauna. The proximity to this young pup was doing bad things to my heart rate.

We sat down side by side and I couldn't help but notice the tent in his swim suit and the sly grin and the sideways look he was giving me.

I chuckled and said, "Brad, if I didn't know better, I would think you were flirting with me."

He leaned against me and rolled his eyes and said, "Duh!"

I put my arm around him and said, "I can't say that I'm not sorely tempted but I would be an asshole if I..."

He looked at me like I was crazy and asked, "Why?"

"You're vulnerable Brad. You've been hurt by your parents and you're scared. You want to latch on to something safe. Don't get me wrong, you're a good looking young man. I've no doubt that you could have you pick of any older guy in this place. I'm going to offer you something different."

There was hurt in his eyes and he asked, "What is that?"

"All those things that they don't want to hear about, I do. When you need to talk to someone that you know will always be on your side, that's me. I give you my friendship and something more, respect. I respect you too much. You are so much more than a trick in the showers."

What I said must have hit a nerve. Tears were rolling down his cheeks and his arms were around me.

Sometimes it's hard to know and do the right and honorable thing.

Sometimes the reward is only on the inside and how you feel about yourself.

Sometimes it is gaining the love and trust of a son that you never thought you would have.

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Sweet story, James...a good message. We need to offer more of these responsible adult tales to counter the letch in the locker room syndrome. I am a firm believer that a gay man in this situation needs to be careful but that doesn't mean distant. How difficult it is for the young to find comfort and validation for their feelings, and yet many older men are afraid of the condemnation of even a quiet discussion with someone younger. Good job on this piece.

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