cruising hour

My hot vax summer: Why cruising at the gym is the worst and best thing ever

Nothing prolongs my gym workout more than another hot guy hitting the weights. Every glance inspires an additional bicep curl; I’ve shifted from chest to back day to stay within cruising proximity. 

I’m not alone. Most of my gay friends who frequently exercise express this sentiment, many of them having at least one gym crush. You know, that person whose gym routine you mostly ingrained into memory and tried to replicate within your own schedule. You find yourself questioning where the hell they are when they’re missing at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday!

Related: Barry’s Bootcamp trooper Steven Phan on the power of short shorts at the gym

They typically only work out in the evening on Mondays and Wednesdays… 

That is until a new (therefore better) handsome stranger shows up.

Enter one (or two) pandemics later, and people worldwide experienced tragedy – and horniness – like never before. As restrictions were lifted, gyms reopened, and mask mandates dropped, we all scrambled to prepare for our hot vax summer. It’s no wonder bidet company Tushy launched a herd-immunity countdown clock at CanIEatAssYet.com. Liberal and conservative publications alike agreed about the global blue balls crisis, such as the New York Post’s article “NYC singles ready for ‘slutty summer’ of casual sex.” Yes, that’s the awful Rupert Murdoch’s awful tabloid.

I was also experiencing a messy breakup with my boyfriend, who I lived with – another negative side effect for countless couples caused by Covid. We agreed to stay away from the apps until moving out (his demanded suggestion), so I found myself exercising quite like never before. I found the energy of muscular men sweating and squatting and glancing at each other a welcomed escape from the passionless drought in my apartment – or should I say, my ex-boyfriend’s place, as he liked to remind me.

But the isolation of lockdown made me glamorize my encounters at the gym. It’s not like before I was engaging in shower sex or locker room oral. I’ve never even gotten a guy’s number, mostly because I was waiting for them to say hi first. But the idea that it could happen at any moment kept me hooked. There’s nothing quite as relentless as a gay man’s fantasy and hope. Not unlike the reason so many of us find ourselves scrolling endlessly on Grindr. Any minute now, you’ll think 2 hours later at 1 a.m.

But gym flings are different because the mutual attraction is all in our heads. It’s impossible to get the confirmation of a reply (or lack thereof). It could be a fiery reciprocated lust or wishful thinking; I’ve never had the cojones to find out. I mean, imagine using Grindr with an audience! It’s what makes modern gym cruising the best and worst thing ever; online culture has made hitting on someone in person not worth the risk of rejection, at least for most. Not to mention the cock-blocking devices that are AirPods. 

Besides, when’s the last time someone offered to buy you a drink at a bar or approached you on the street? I’ve often experienced the infamous online message from a guy I saw in person, letting me know they also saw me. Lame. When it’s done offline, it’s typically done through an introduction by a mutual connection or when you both find yourselves randomly making out at the bar empowered by liquid courage. 

Yet, I still find the sensation of cruising at the gym exhilarating. I enjoy the idea that someone within a few feet might be lusting after me as much as I am for them. After all, it’s a nice change of pace from the instant step-and-repeat gratification that is gay hookup culture. When the norm is to ask “top, bottom, or verse” before someone’s name, it’s no wonder why the eternal tease of gym cruising feels so entrancing. 

Perhaps, the other folks there prevent anyone from making the first move. Ever. But, despite the fantasy that might never happen, your body will at least be ready for summer.