Fitness Chronicles: “The Bro Side”

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Ah, the gym. The beautiful, terrible gym. As soon as you walk in, if you’re not overwhelmed by the overpowering smell of sweat and body odor, the crowds of human traffic will probably do the job. With so many people milling around in a highly limited space, it’s natural to head to an area you’re most comfortable with, which is exactly what I used to do for a long time.

The first time I entered the gym three years ago, I made a beeline for the cardio section and hand weights, where I saw both girls and guys working out in a relatively relaxed environment. Sometimes, I even wandered over to the machine section. You know with the lat pulldown machine, and ab cruncher and all that stuff. Though there were less girls there, it was neutral territory and I felt comfortable messing around with the machines even though my form was less than stellar.

But I never, ever dared to cross over to the far left side of the gym: the free-weights section, also known as “The Bro Side,” by me–and well, only by me. But still.

The Bro Side was always packed to the brim with angry-looking male lifters, grunting, yelling and throwing weights like they had been paid to start a mini massacre within the gym. For a freshman girl with a serious lack of experience in the fitness department, it was a living nightmare.

Then there was the Bro King. A muscly, short guy with jet black hair and the smile of a hammer head shark who always seemed to be on the Bro Side, no matter what time of day I went. I never once saw him do much more than a couple of bicep curls or shoulder exercises, but he was always there, always watching, always checking to see who would cross over to his territory.

I’m sure the Bro King wasn’t actually doing this stuff, but I have a wild imagination, and he did have a habit of staring people down when they came to his side of the fitness center, so I assumed my idea made sense. According to my fantastical theory, the Bro King was not actually there to work out, but was instead a hired body guard, there to ward off “nubes” and other non-lifters from the premises.

Each day, he staked out a spot on a bench, weights in hand, and thoroughly monitored the form of each Bro-Sider, down to the angle, weight, and rep range. If you weren’t following proper form, you got a warning, but if you continued to mess up, the Bro King would eliminate you once and for all and banish you back to the cardio side.

All fiction of course. But nonetheless, it kept me from ever stepping foot over there. It wasn’t until I worked out with an acquaintance one day that I crossed the border–and what I found was quite a surprise…

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