So this month I'ma switch things around. Instead of giving something up as before, I'm going to do more of something. But what? Given that, according to all the posters I've been passing on my way to and from work, the shape of my body means I won't be granted access to any of the world's beaches this summer, and I'm nowhere close to attaining this month's most coveted accessory, the #dadbod, I've decided to exercise more. And where do people who want to stay fit and healthy go? That's totally right, they go to hell. Otherwise called the gym.
*The other (main) reason I've decided to go to the gym more (for now anyway) is that I have a membership that costs more than I spend on water, gas and electricity combined and it's taken me this long to realise that I won't get lean solely by keeping a membership card in my wallet.
Anyway, this is why I believe the gym is the closest earthly exemplification of hell - that mythical realm widely regarded as the southernmost tip of the universe where absolute darkness reigns, despite there being perpetual fire literally everywhere, and where the souls of those who, during their brief mortal tenure on earth chose the path of sin, carnal lust, gluttony, sodomy and all the other stuff a lot of us frankly wouldn't even blink at, are sent to bear an eternity of agony and torment. You've probably been warned of it.
My gym actually is underground which helps fortify my personal analogy. As we've established, there are circa zero hours of natural daylight ever in hell and the same goes for my sweltering subterranean vault of a gym. The woman who guards the reception probably wouldn't like to know she was being compared to Cerberus the three-headed hellhound right now, but let's imagine. She smiles, flashing her barbed fangs while handing you a sheet of sandpaper masquerading as a towel, and as you descend deeper into the pit, you feel the temperature rise.
The muffled, grief-stricken howls of ten thousand souls denied redemption get louder, more piercing... until you realise it's actually a Cascada remix from the early Noughties. And everywhere you look, accursed subjects drip with sweat and endure their unending enslavement. Let's take a look around shall we?
You know those crippling night terrors where you run and run on legs of lead but you don't go anywhere? That's a treadmill. And you have to carry on running, not because you'll be lashed by harpies if you don't, but because if you stop for one second... well, you don't need me to tell you. We've all seen enough fail compilations on YouTube to know what happens when you balls up on a human-size conveyer belt rotating at speeds of up to 20km/h.
The same goes for spinning and step machines. Where are you cycling? What are you climbing towards? To nowhere is where; this is Limbo, the first circle of Dante's Inferno. Surely the Netherworld is filled with these contraptions of burden, probably lined up in front of one long mirror, or, like, a plasma screen that plays footage of your mates that made it to heaven and are having a ball, or the people you once loved and that you will never, ever see again. They were allocated a different circle to yours. In hell and on the treadmill, you are alone.
On to the personal trainers - garbed in red like fiendish, cackling daemons - you kick and punch and beg while they jeer and hiss at you, but you shall never thwart them. This is Boxercise, or basically any other sadistic training session. And am I the only person who thinks kettle bells resemble the balls and chains that are probably shackled to a large percentage of hell's population?
It's simply too harrowing to witness, so you turn away, and through the glass wall is the swimming pool, overflowing with bodies thrashing breathlessly to keep their heads above the lukewarm broth of dead skin and those verruca plasters that look like Polo mints.
The weight room is a special sort of purgatory for most people, where the damned are forced to lift incrementally heavier objects like some ignoble re-enactment of the final moments of Jesus Christ, hauling his crucifix to the summit of Golgotha (though in my gym there are no spitting crowds or crying women).
Then there are the classes. I went to one in darker times, but don't remember the name - Sambannihilate® or Corpse Attack™ or something. Here, all attendees were made to dance in perfect, cult-like unison while being serenaded by a Gabba version of Cotton-Eyed Joe. I grabbed my towel and water and flew out of the room muttering "fuck this shit" after about four minutes.
So, this is the gym I know, the hell to which I must become accustomed if I want a corporeal form that is deemed attractive according to the standards by which we are often judged. I've yet to locate the lake of fire and brimstone or the bottomless pit. Maybe you need to pay extra for those, but I'm pretty sure that the area where the Lucifer, Father of Lies and Dark Lord Satanas himself laughs at you for an endless age as outlined in the Book of Revelations is, in fact, the communal shower.