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They say the camera adds 15 pounds, and many a calorie is burned over this confidence-crushing adage. But that goes for people who actually wear clothes on camera. Imagine the insecure inner monologue of the actor who performs a fair portion of his artistic endeavors sans shirt? Knowing that nearly every square inch of your flesh is captured permanently on celluloid is quite the motivator. No one wants that hideously unflattering shot in Us Weekly (or in my case Frontiers) where you're captured bending over the wrong way and your one undefined ab is suddenly comparable to a fat roll on Jabba the Hutt. It's not pretty.
Simply going to any given gym isn't sufficient in this pursuit of physical photographable perfection. Where you work out is integral to your success in attaining that goal. It may be worth a 25-minute rush hour commute past three gyms that are within walking distance of your apartment if that commute can mean working out next to the person who can give you a job -- or your next date. Here is the overly generalized, completely cliched rundown of what your gym says about you before, you even open you mouth.
If you go to Equinox, your gym choice says you are probably a working actor. If you're on a television series, you secretly hope someone from Creative Artists Agency (the death star of talent agencies, the best of the best) will spot you, recognize your potential, and promise to help you get out of TV and cross over into film. You can't yet afford the home gyms of the true A-listers, so this gym is basically a purgatory until that day comes, which of course it will as soon as you get spotted by that agent from CAA.
You also wear overpriced, color-coordinated, brand-name athletic clothing, with one generic accessory like a tube sock or headband to show you still have a little "Jenny From the Block" in you. You take group dance classes led by actual Pussycat Dolls and sweat to number 1 singles next to the people who recorded them, the producers who created them, the agents who represent them, and the plastic surgeons who transformed them. You enjoy the spa-like locker room, complete with eucalyptus-scented towels and brand-name lotion, where you probably spend more time than on the workout floor. You're aware of the flagrant displays of unnecessary and prolonged male nudity, and you either enjoy it, partake in it, or can ignore it better than most. Hopefully you're not the old guy blow-drying his hair wearing a T-shirt and no pants. You probably have a weekly waxing appointment, see an expensive hairdresser, and drive a Range Rover. You pay $140 per month to work out here, even though no one in his right mind would pay this much for a gym. And, of course, you pretend to be annoyed by the paparazzi waiting at the entrance for Ryan Reynolds to finish doing his chin-ups -- even if you secretly enjoy it.
If you go to Crunch, your gym choice says you can't afford Equinox,
but tell people you "prefer the classes" (like strip aerobics, pole
dancing, or booty slide) so that you still appear to be a gym snob. You
know we know this is bullshit. Your workout is secondary to
planning the events of the coming evening (generally, margaritas at
Marix) or scoring a date with the fresh-off-the-bus hottie on treadmill 8
who hasn't slept with the whole city yet. You secretly enjoy the cruisy
atmosphere, even if you say you just ignore it. Your eyes get more
exercise than your biceps do. If you are an actor and work out here, you
have one or two big credits under your belt, but you are still budget-
conscious because you probably don't know when you will work next. You
make sure to always have a script on hand to flaunt to the casual
observer, even if you may not even be auditioning for a part. This shows
everyone you are doing just fine while working your way up the Hollywood
ranks -- even if such may not be the case.
If you work out at Gold's, your gym choice says you are serious about fitness and socializing in equal parts. You appreciate the layout of the place, as it appeals to the serious fitness enthusiast and Chatty Cathy alike. You're probably a body builder, a mid-level Hollywood type, or a muscle bear from Silver Lake. You believe the loudness of your grunt and the number of plates on the bar is directly proportional to the size of your penis. You have a tattoo or will have one within a month of joining -- or you are in the process of removing that one mistake-tat from spring break '92. There's a good chance you think of deodorant as a luxury and not a necessity and probably don't wax or shave anything except your eyebrows. You also know exactly what it means to have a folded bandanna in your back pocket. You may or may not do steroids, but you definitely appreciate a good tan -- often apres gym -- and a long, lingering post-workout shower in a social scene that rivals the Abbey, but without clothes. As an actor, you would be in the minority here and would probably secretly prefer to be on the cover of Men's Health than in a feature film but would take either. Or you may be on the show Glee (almost the entire cast has been spotted here.)
If you work out at 24 Hour Fitness, your gym choice says you may be straight -- it's not likely, but it's possible (a few actually do work out here). You may be in the closet, a penny pincher, or easily scammed into a crazy long membership. If you are an actor, you are still trying to get your break. You still audition for student films with no pay and moonlight as a waiter or bartender. Much like extras on a movie set who don't shut up about being the nephew of Spielberg and having the lead in his next feature, you probably also constantly talk about how great you are doing in some The Secret kind of way, or you're paying it forward, and you don't realize how this comes across as kind of pathetic. More sweat is beading off your brow from the thought of your credit card balance, due to the 17 acting classes you are currently enrolled in, than from your workout.
If you work out at LA
Fitness, you just moved here from the South and it sounded logical. You
will leave this gym within one year.
If you work out at the YMCA, your gym choice says you are from New York City and you hate Los Angeles, as this is basically a place to bitch about how much L.A. sucks compared to New York. You also talk about things like the horrid theater scene while drinking something made of natural ingredients that you bought from Whole Foods Market, having driven there in your Prius from your loft downtown. You don't realize that everyone in L.A. secretly hopes you will just go back home.
If you work out at Bally -- I have no idea who goes to Bally. You probably saw a commercial during the first act of Days of Our Lives while sitting at home doing nothing that afternoon waiting for your agent to call.
So, in a rather large nutshell, this is what your L.A. gym says about you. Really, it's up to you what you do once inside, and you can get a great workout anywhere if you set your mind to it, but now you know what you'll find when you get there. Just know that in L.A.'s gay scene, your gym choice is an extension of your identity, and you will be judged based on it whether you think so or not. It's the third (and arguably most scrutinized) question in the superficial intro game. Where are you from? What do you do? Where do you work out? Choose wisely, young Padawan.
Oh, yeah, about me ... I do yoga in the morning, hike Runyon Canyon with my dog in the afternoon, attend Barry's Bootcamp when I'm shooting, have a 24 Hour Fitness membership left over from when I first moved here (that I only use when I need a swim), have a current Gold's membership that I use when I want to lift hard, take spinning classes at Equinox and Crunch when my friends are instructing (guest passes rock!), and run on the sidewalks of Sunset Boulevard when I need a solo sweat. Good luck trying to define me by my workout.