I never thought I’d ever get confirmation off the side of a dumpster, but the time has come. White paint letters on that gray box on the sidewalk: ‘Everyone is insecure’. It is, I thought. Refreshing message too, after the more traditional angry clatter I encountered earlier on my bike ride home: ‘QR = apartheid’ at a traffic light, ‘All Cops Are Bastards’ on a welcome sign in a street.
A little further on is my TrainMore, a fitness chain with a name that sounds a bit like an order. The whole concept of TrainMore is that you pay less for your subscription the more often you go – you immediately understand why it is such a success, because if you get Dutch people out the door for something, it’s a discount. Anyway, this week for the umpteenth time I found a green brochure for the very first ‘TrainMore Locker Room Festival’ in, yes, my locker. Brilliant marketing, first of all. But every time I think: there is little that would give me less pleasure than a festival of a gym.
I imagine a bar with only calorie-free fruit water, men in tank tops standing in groups talking about how much weight they can keep and the DJs asking how many sets they have left.
The folder doesn’t give much away. However, there will be ‘no fitness’. ‘We only challenge ourselves physically by dancing to the beats’. Because, so it ends: ‘We are more than a gym.’
That’s how it feels to some people. People for whom the gym is meaningful, who have made friends there and maybe only see there, who feel part of a small community. Such a person is my best friend Tim, who is obviously very enthusiastic about the festival and wants to have me along. Tim decided two years ago to work towards his dream body. He went to his TrainMore enviably disciplined and now also has an enviable collection of muscles.
Then you have people like me, for whom the TrainMore is simply ‘that one gym on the corner close to home’. And for whom the gym itself is a place where you reluctantly pull and push for an hour or an hour and a half for just enough dopamine to tame the dissatisfaction with your body. Especially as a gay man you quickly get an overly negative image of your body, it seems as if we have all decided that the bench press is the best trauma processing.
I therefore mainly look to myself for my resolute rejection of that festival. Until the day when enough dumpsters have talked to me.
Frank Huiskamp will replace Marcel van Roosmalen in the coming weeks.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of August 1, 2022