Friday, August 13, 2010

Celebrities I have been sweaty with

I used to work out at the Crunch Gym in the base of the Marina City towers (the buildings that look like corncobs for you youngsters and the buildings that were implied to be Bob Newhart’s office for you older folks), and my celebrity-dar is such that I didn’t realize Will Smith was working out every day right next to me to get pumped up for filming the movie Ali until someone told me months after the fact.

At least I know who Will Smith is. I once spent an irritating few months sharing the gym and the locker room (but never the bathroom once I found out who he was) with alleged-child-pee-er-on-er R. Kelly and his thoroughly douchebaggy posse. And I once got sweat sprayed all over my arm by a very jittery pale man running next to me on a treadmill, only to find out later that he was Scott Weiland, who apparently is a pilot for something called Stone Temple Airlines, which must be a limited regional carrier because I never see them as an option when I book stuff on Orbitz. And I also totally ogled a very athletic butt that I found out later belonged to a baseball player I’d never heard of named Kyle Farnsworth.

But that was my old life at my old gym.

I have no allegiance to gyms or gym chains. I realized long ago that the most important feature for a gym to have—aside from decent equipment and a few hot guys to motivate me—is a close proximity to my house or my office. If my home or my office moves, I move gyms too. Because the less effort I have to make to get to a gym, the more time I can spend in my vain pursuit of maintaining some sort of physical relevance in today’s youth-obsessed culture.

So when my office moved two years ago to the heart of the Loop, I found a nearby gym that, though it’s so expensive it kind of makes me choke every time I open my Amex bill, I go every morning at 6:30 plus I cough up the equivalent of two house payments every four months so I can have one of its more muscular trainers beat me three times a week like a Mel Gibson girlfriend. And I love it!

But! It gets better!

On one of my first visits to this shiny new gym, I was huffing away on a Stairmaster absentmindedly watching Pretty Woman on one of the ten bazillion TVs that are suspended over the cardio area when I looked down and saw Richard Gere. As in the Richard Gere from the movie that was playing above my head, only live and in person in front of me in my gym. And, as my previous experience at Crunch proved, it wasn’t entirely implausible that a bona-fide celebrity (meaning one I'd actually heard of) would be using a high-end chain gym in the heart of Chicago’s financial district. So I started fantasizing about all the fabulous celebrities I’d be showering naked with sharing workout tips with now that I was an elite insider member of a fabulous, dripping-(literally)-with-(sweaty)-celebrities gym.

As I looked down at Richard, assuming all this time he’d been admiring my dedication to fitness and contemplating which blockbuster movie he’d like to use as a vehicle to launch my co-leading-man stardom with him, I realized that … um … he wasn’t actually Richard Gere. In fact, he barely even looked like Richard Gere, aside from his silver-gray hair and his cute-ish fortysomething face. And the fact that he was a man.

But! It gets worse!

Because once I started going religiously at 6:30 am (I’m the undisputed mayor on Foursquare, for those of you inclined to be impressed by such silliness) I started to notice all the morning regulars … including yet another celebrity lookalike. Fortunately for me, I knew right away this dude wasn’t the actual celebrity. Unfortunately for him, the poor fucker looks like Glenn Beck, who, even if you can get past his batshit craziness and his one-cylinder intellect, is still a goofy-looking low-budget circus clown. Bless his cold black heart.

And then this week a third celebrity lookalike appeared and started getting in the way of my morning workouts. This one looks remarkably like Rita Moreno in West Side Story, complete with plum-hued bouffant and fiery kohl-lined eyes. Unfortunately, he tends to take up two sinks in the locker room right as 30 other guys are racing to get cleaned up and get to work. But still. I bet he floats like a butterfly way better than Will Smith ever could.

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