The New Paper Jun 5, 2000
Some gyms are becoming notorious for strange goings-on. Like men playing hanky panky with… men.
KOH SWEE YEN and SERENE FOO speak to three male gym goers about their up-close-and-personal surprises
CASE 1: TOUCHED AND STARED AT
HE was concentrating on his bench press exercise when he felt someone touching him.
The man began pushing Mr Alex Ang’s arms upwards, and said: “Not bad. You can do quite a lot.”
After that, he patted the 18-year-old student’s back, just above his buttocks – and pretended to show him how to use the exercise machine.
All this while, the muscular man in his 20s stared straight into Mr Ang’s face.
“I was utterly shocked,” said Mr Ang, who is clean-cut and boyish-looking.
“I never expected someone, especially another man, to just come up and touch me. And it wasn’t a normal touch, but more of a lingering touch, gently caressing my arms.
“He didn’t ask if he could touch me, like some personal trainers do when they want to show you an exercise. I had gone to the gym to exercise, not to make friends, but some see the gym as a social meeting place.”
Mr Ang works out regularly at another gym. But it was the first time he had been to this one. He was there around 6 pm on a weekday, wearing his usual work-out gear, a dark blue singlet and shorts.
There were about 35 people in the gym, mostly young men in their 20s or 30s.
The men worked out in pairs – or groups. There were only two women in the gym.
“I had noticed this man staring at me as I did my work-out, but I ignored him, thinking I must have been mistaken,” said Mr Ang.
“Half an hour into my workout, he came over, just like that. He started to touch me and made small talk. I was too nervous to reply or smile back. So I quickly went on to another area in the gym.”
Still feeling nervous, Mr Ang decided to take a shower and leave the gym.
But in the changing room, he was again approached, this time by a tall man with a well-toned body.
“After my shower, as I was about to put on my clothes, I saw him looking at me. So I decided to go inside a cubicle, but he followed me in as well,” said Mr Ang. “I quickly went to another cubicle, and left. I did not want to stay even a minute longer.”
CASE 2: PEEPED AT IN THE TOILET
NATIONAL Serviceman Jackson Tan, 21, was at the same gym late last year. He found a pair of eyes following him wherever he went.
While he was exercising, he noticed a well-built man looking intently at him, as though scrutinising every ripple of his muscle.
The man started following Mr Tan, his eyes never leaving him.
“I got frightened. From the way he behaved, it was like he was trying to pick me up. Just as a guy would pick up a girl,” said a flustered Mr Tan.
To make sure that it wasn’t just his imagination, Mr Tan decided to test the well-built man.
“I turned my head, looked straight at him and smiled,” said Mr Tan.
The man immediately smiled back, and became more daring.
When Mr Tan got up to go to the toilet, he followed him. He even hid behind the door and peeped at Mr Tan when he was changing.
Mr Tan had worked out at the gym in the past, but this unnerved him.
Not wanting to be approached by the man, Mr Tan cut short his work-out and left.
He has not gone back to the gym since.
CASE 3: ‘UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL’ TREATMENT
HIS friends had warned him that this gym was “different” but he still chose it because it was near his workplace.
Mr Remy Ahmad, 36, has been working out at the gym since October last year, and his account of what goes on was similar to Mr Ang’s and Mr Tan’s.
“When these guys stare and smile at you, you must not smile back, otherwise it will mean the ‘green’ light for them!” said the office administrative assistant.
He also said that it was quite obvious that some of the men were not there to exercise. “They go there to talk or stare at others from top to bottom. They are really not serious about their workout. Some of them are not sweating at all.”
Serious gym-goers seldom have time to sit around to talk or stare.
“There should also be some kind of a sequence and you tone one part of the body at a time. For them, there is no sequence. They just exercise one part and suddenly change and do another thing, it’s like rojak.
“Sometimes, they just hang around the person they are interested in.”
Mr Remy said the guys would hang around the men’s toilet, too.
“Some of them will pretend to be fiddling with their bags when they are actually looking at you.
“Some of them can be really muscular and tough-looking.”
He related an incident involving a “good-looking guy”.
“One of these guys went over to him to help him out. I overheard him inviting the guy to workout together the following Saturday.
“The good-looker declined and his ‘helper’ left the gym around 9 pm.
“But as I was leaving, around 10 pm, I saw the same man waiting at the gate for the good-looker and they chatted. I guess it was about the invitation again.”
But Mr Remy does not care about all this. “I like this gym because it’s convenient. The equipment is very good and the rates are reasonable,” he said. He concentrates only on getting a serious workout.
COMMENT: I’LL GIVE THIS GYM A MISS, THANK YOU
KOH SWEE YEN
I HAVE been going to gyms and fitness centres for seven years.
I have worked out at all kinds of gyms: Big ones with expensive, flashy equipment, smaller, more intimate hotel gyms, and fitness centres run by the Sports Council which are good value for money.
I had always been at ease in gyms – until I stepped into this one. Somehow, I felt I did not belong.
It was rather crowded on a Tuesday at 5.30 pm. There were more than 30, generally well-built guys, and only five women, including myself.
Most of the men were dressed in tight singlets and shorts. Typical working-out attire.
What struck me was not what they were wearing, but how they behaved.
They would gather in groups, stand around and talk among themselves.
They would preen in front of the mirror, flick their hair and make exaggerated movements when walking.
When exercising, they would give each other “support” in areas like the buttocks. And they would look hard at each and every guy who walked in.
Me? I felt I was viewed with hostility. It was like I was a threat to them.
I overheard a conversation between two well-built men. One looked like he was in his 30s, bald and wearing a singlet. The other was tanned, had short hair and was wearing a black T-shirt.
“Where are you going? Why have you not been here recently? I missed you,” the bald man said.
I bumped into an acquaintance who said he had been working out there for two months.
He said: ” The men here are mostly out to make friends with other men. I was chatted up by many of them, but once I made it clear that I was not interested, they would steer clear of me. I just ‘act normal’ and carry on with my work-out.”
I thought the equipment in the gym was great. But I made a mental note to give the place a miss after this because I felt I didn’t fit in.
This article was first archived by Paranoid Android on SiGNeL: