Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I took extra care to spell the blog title correctly. Gymnophobia is fear of nudity. Of course, that too surfaces depending on whom I am looking at!! I am referring to a fear of another kind. Its the place they call a gymnasium(from Greek gymnasion from gymnazein to exercise naked - weird, huh?).

I remember my first time. The rites of passage. Avinash, Sachin and Sushil had enrolled and I followed suit. Getting up at 6 to go and stretch my legs and pull a heavy piece of metal up and down 20 times was barely going to register as a favorite activity for me. The first day I was through with my exercises, I had trouble climbing a few stairs. However, at the time, the effort was aimed at a higher purpose. The sole motivating factor for going to the gym was to obtain a physique and impress girls as a result. Arnold Shivajinagar and Sly Stallone were role models, flexing my arms in front of a mirror was a thrice-a-day exercise and an unmistakable swagger set in to reflect my new found confidence. That was the time to gloat over gaining a couple of kilograms of weight, a tiny bulge in my biceps and adding the new expression to my vocabulary ‘I work out’. Then, the boredom set in. The ratio of time spent to gains achieved dwindled and the act of doing the same set of exercises over and over again got to me. Having paid 6 months worth of my father’s hard earned money, I at least ensured that half of it was well utilized. In the end, I quit after three months.

Cut to the interregnum. While my muscled friends muscled their way to pot-bellies and love handles over the years, I stuck to my flat-stomached non-muscular lean existence. I spent my time picking up and getting better at table tennis, badminton, cricket etc. I ate what I pleased, and it seemed to have no effect on me. Hanging out of trains and buses in Bombay was exercise enough. And I walked. Boy, I walked.

Cut to the present. The moment I started my sedentary work life, the pot belly appeared, I started feeling stuffed every time I ate, and a 3 hour cricket match made me huff and puff. I realized that perhaps being 26 is not the same as being 20. My job provides a few perks, including membership to a rather expensive sports club. I figured it was time to cash in. After several years, I finally ventured towards the exercise machines again. Things, as learnt quickly had changed. First, there was the ‘co-ed’ setup, unlike the gym I went to India. As a 15 year old kid, I used to feel like a dwarf among the big boys. Now, people of all shapes and sizes and sexes were panting and sweating in unison. Secondly, there was now a wide array of equipment to choose from. Treadmills, ellipticals, gravitron, steppers, you name it. I didn’t even have to lift a dumbbell and still feel drained out at the end of a session. With that also came the realization that the world was never meant to be for equals. There are the bawdy-builders, people whose bodies are more rotund than linear, enough love handles to hang onto if you are sinking, and enough weight to test the weight machines to the limit. On the other hand, there are the body-builders. They still make me feel like a dwarf. And then of course, there are the women. The ones in perfect shape dress up less than adequately to accentuate that. Are they mocking the rest of the ‘normally shaped’ men and women? Is this a media-fed image that they are attempting to confirm to? Do I really care? Hell, no. In the middle of all this, there’s me. Working out twice a week in a slightly purposeless quest. Sometimes, the Jacuzzi and the steam room seem to be the best reasons for going there.

I am probably not being fair on anyone who does go to gym for honest purposes. By nature, I hate the concept of running in one place for 20 minutes. Give me a competitive sport, any one of them, and I’ll jump right in. However, circumstances dictate that I can’t do that on a regular basis. Anyway, got to speed up work. I have to leave work a little early this evening. Any guesses where I am heading towards?

Currently reading: The rule of four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
Currently watching: American Wedding, Pulp Fiction
Currently listening: Mirza Ghalib by various artists
Current frustration: Inability to watch the Ind-Pak cricket series


Ragini said...

Hi parth,
I am guessing you are the same parth from SPCE.. varun's friend.

Nice blog you have got going.

Parth said...

Yup, that's me alright :-) Nice to hear from you after all these years.

Ragini said...


I have been living and working in san diego for the last couple of years. I also bumped into another SPCE-ite very recently. The internet has made the world so small, right ! :-)

Anand said...

I am not sure, how I bumped into your blog. Maybe I was doing some ego surfing and saw a list of 'Redmond' blogs. Your blog was listed right underneath mine. Hmmm moment. Ever since then, I keep coming back (once in a while, tho) and read your posts. Good work, you write well!

Geetanjali said...

How to recognise an Indian guy anywhere in the world - he'll be climbing walls in frustration at not being able to see an Indo-Pak series!!! ;-) This one was fun to read - nothing like a trip down memory lane to pull you up, is there?

Meenal Mehta said...

hey ...caught your blog from orkut ..still go there ?check out my profile there ..meenal mehta ..

Anuradha said...

Like your take on Gyms, with all the reason to go to Gym and having a huge Gym in my office premises also does not motivate me to go to Gym.

Indian cricket team is making sure that you don't miss the Ind-Pak series, by not performing...