Everywhere I turn these days, people are exercising. As a culture, we long ago supplanted the regular exercise of the mind for the exercise of the flesh, the pursuit of lofty ideals for the pursuit of bulging biceps. A friend of mine recently asked me to write something about the potential for dating and mating at those ubiquitous cathedrals of the body, fitness clubs. Now, writing something about gyms wouldn't normally be my scene. You see, I'm not the kind of guy who is often mistaken for being fit. Flossing my teeth is about as much exercise as I get during the day. Lifting the remote to change the channel already exhausts me. I'm just not into exercising. For me, lifting weights ranks up there with listening to a Boris Yeltsin speech--in Russian. But this doesn't mean that I am opposed to gyms. No, as a man who has devoted a considerable amount of time trying to get men and women to fall--and stay--in love with each other, I believe that all gyms should be converted into massive love chambers. Now get your mind out of the gutter and back into this website. I didn't say sex chambers. I said love chambers. Gyms should be massive singles social scenes where men and women can evaluate each other and find lifelong marital bliss. OK, I know what you're saying. That's ridiculous. Does this rabbi mean that these glorified shrines of the body should really be used as ashrams of attraction, temples of tenderness, sanctuaries to find soul mates? Well, let's look at the possibilities. If you want to meet a guy or a girl, these are some of your choices:
  • You can go to a bar to pick someone up.
    Terrible idea. How are you going to impress anyone once you start slurring your words and vomiting on their tie? Is he really going to like you when you try and light your cigarette and your breath is converted into a flame-thrower? And is she really going to like you as you give her your inebriated conspiracy theory about how Elvis shot Kennedy from the grassy knoll? I don't think so.

  • You can be introduced by your friend Samantha and go on a blind date.
    Bad idea. Samantha has still never forgiven you for that time you volunteered to go with her boyfriend Vinnie to Frederick's of Hollywood to help choose her birthday gift. Although seemingly a friend, Samantha is conspiring to ruin your life. She's going to introduce you to Melvyn McShmendrick who in his teens was known as Melvyn the Meat Maniac because of his predilection for using his machete to attack a side of beef. The moral: Never ever trust your friends to set you up. The last thing they want to do is see you ending up happier than they are.

  • You can meet at a bookstore.
    Forget that idea. In your area, they only have adult book stores.

  • You can meet at Starbucks.
    Worst idea yet. By the time you pay for your second coffee, you've got to either mortgage the house, sell a vital organ, or volunteer to test experimental drugs just to settle the bill. Once you're broke, she's not going to be interested in a guy driving around in a Hyundai.

  • You can meet at a gym.
    OK, OK. So the gyms favor people with beautiful bodies. It also glorifies physical attraction to the exclusion of more noble and human qualities, like how much money he has in the bank. But look at the positive side.

    First, at a gym everyone sweats equally. Wouldn't you rather whiff the nice, clean smell of male perspiration than his cheesy $3 aftershave called "Seven Nights in the Stable"?

    Second, after a good workout you're way too tired to be pretentious. Therefore, the interaction becomes so much more truthful. Men are too worn out to offer their usual, grandiloquent pick-up lines, like, "Hey, sugar. Are you interested in a highly romantic one-night relationship whereby I utter all kinds of garbage I don't even mean, make promises I don't intend to keep, all in order to take you to bed and never even remember your name, let alone call you again?" You see, that's the kind of convoluted falsehood you hear at a nightclub. No no, gyms are so much simpler by comparison. He simply looks at you and says, "Hey, you gonna be on that machine much longer?" Who said there are no romantic men left?

    Third, so often men and women are drawn to each other only later to discover, once they take their clothes off, that that they're not half as voluptuous as they seemed with their clothes on. But in the gym, what you see is what you get. Lycra doesn't lie.

    Finally, gyms teach selflessness. After all, you're sitting there working your guts out just to beautify your body so that other people will notice you. So everything you're doing is for others. Your workout, in essence, is an act of charity.

    So there you have it. Gyms promote honesty, integrity, and selflessness in relationships.

    But seriously folks, as you sit there pumping iron, keep in mind that your real purpose in being in the gym is hopefully to look beyond the flesh to the brightly lit soul of the person across from you who just wants someone to love him or her. And maybe, just maybe, if you can get beyond the externalities and relate to the person with something other than your surface personality, maybe it will be you.

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