Deep in the depths of the 24 hour London gym, under the humid fog of sweat and stress, tangled in Nike sportswear and protein canopies, you will come across various creatures of exercise. It can be difficult to navigate yourself through the savannah of weights, especially with such minimal natural light streaming through the dense underground warehouse walls. It can also be hard to hear past the tropical house music and constant murmur of touch screen machines and coded sliding doors. What is clear from my analysis of the London jungle gym is the variety of creatures with which it is populated. Let me now take you on a safari ride of roles and habitats of each of these gym species.
On entry into the jungle, you will pass the café koala bears. Tucked away in the outlying gym sofas, they linger outside the main areas of vegetation, and may rest for 2-3 hours a day here. Chewing on protein bars and sipping smoothies, they will wink at other wild life. Café Koalas like to be seen at the jungle gym, and they may appear to be on a “health kick,” but the truth of the matter is they don’t like to move from the sofa. They like hugs and pillows, not dumbbells.
After passing the initial swamp land, you will come to the sloth snapchatters. They came to the jungle gym to post their movements on social media. They have no intention of sweating, only sharing. These sloth snapchatters can be seen stretching, hovering by the water fountain or cycling on level 1. Sloths will only move when necessary, and once snapchats have been sent they can retreat home to continue sleeping.
Get past those koalas and sloths, and you will find the girl giraffes. Dangerously tall, thin and slow. Walking at 6 km per hour at a 45 degree uphill angle for hours, in the hopes that at the end of their journey of calorie burning, they can treat themselves to some leaves. No one is sure when they last ate, no one is sure if they have ever used another machine or another setting.
Next up you have the antibacterial monkeys. Jumping from machine to machine, frantically protecting themselves with their antiseptic spray gun. With the overriding fear of being unhygienic, being exposed to mass sweat contamination, it is essential to disinfect every piece of equipment. Even equipment you might not use could be a host to a plethora of man-flu germs, lingering deep in the foam padding seat of the spin bike. Be safe antibacterial monkeys, spray your disinfectant gun.
Past the café, the swamp, the treadmills, and the spray guns, you have the lion and lioness gym couple. Work out together, diet together, Instagram together, stay together? #couplesgains? Fierce, loud, and dominating on the matt, they commence with an hour of hunting circuits. They take pride in their matching Adidas outfits that they got for Christmas. On completion of a hunting circuit round, they engage in a quaint “hand tap,” to signify their commitment to each other, and their gym jungle timetable that they downloaded from the Kayla Fitness app.
Deep in the back of the sweat fog, you will find, the roid gorillas, the roidillas. The Spencer Matthews of this world. They are big, they are hairy, and they have terrible tattoos. The vest, or more commonly referred to “wife beater” uniform, is worn to scare off other predators from the holy bench press and outline overbuilt chests and questionable biceps. They grunt, to signify they are powerlifting, and communicate that it is unnaturally heavy. Roidillas will often have a weightlifting belt of honour, similar to a Judo black belt. This signifies an inflated ego, and partial self-worship. They have trained hard and they are not humble. Do not get in the way of a black belt, you may have to engage in monotone conversation.
Finally, you may get jumped on by the personal trainer panther. Typically aggressive sales tactics will be implemented when attempting to book you in for an initial “body transformation session,” if not a full time jungle pass. Often dangerously slick and flirtatious, in figure hugging black lycra, the panther personal trainer may wink at you to make you feel special. Do not be fooled, you are not special, you are mere prey in this jungle.