The (Uncommon) Gym Personalities

Contains adult language.

I’ve had several gym memberships over the years: Planet Fitness, YMCA, campus gyms (my career is based in higher education) and my current, and longest held gym residency – 24 Hour Fitness. I’ve noticed a lot of consistent nonsense over the years and I’d like to share those observations with you today. I go to the gym 4 days a week for about 90 to 120 minutes per session. I see a lot.

Please note, the cardio machines I favor overlook the weightlifting area so I get a good view of everyday behaviors, and when not in cardio, I use free weights and resistance machines. I can’t speak to classes. I’ve experienced the below personally as well as being an avid observer. My background is in counseling and psychology; I find this stuff equally fascinating and annoying.

The people I’m about to describe are outside the norm for members but occur often enough that they are noticeable. And just to let you know, there is nothing listed below that men and women aren’t equally guilty of. 

1. The Sitting Texter
Fuck you and whatever text or Tweet you rode in on. You are taking up space. You are not using the machine for which your ass is currently parked. Go take that nonsense to the locker room until you’re done, or, at the very least, stand up and get out of the way. You sit there for whole minutes to quarter hours, texting, chatting, posting, doing anything but exercising. You occasionally engage in one or two reps to justify the machine you’ve occupied, and that’s it. Meantime, people are standing nearby, eyeballing you, wondering when the hell you are going to give up the pretense of exercise so they can actually get to work.

2. The Socialite
You like to relate, I can tell. You are extremely extroverted and want to make friends so you will find ANY pretext to talk to someone who is trying to get their sweat on. You, yourself, are not exercising but you think you’ll make friends at the gym b/c it’s clearly full of people who want to better themselves so they must be relatively happy people. Right? No. I go to the gym to be a less grumpy human being and I can’t do that when someone is trying to have a full-on conversation with me. A scenario I’ve actually experienced: Earbuds in and music on full blast, a perfect stranger touches my arm to get my attention. I think it’s important (why I else would I be interrupted?) and no, it’s a ridiculous questions like, ‘How often do you come here? What’s your favorite exercise? How’s your day going?’ How’s my day going? Are you serious? You just interrupted my dead lift to ask me how my day is going? STFU.

Talk to people if you need help with a machine or a move, or you need a spotter. Please reach out for help about something that needs immediate attention, by all means, but do not engage a person who is in focus with their work for casual conversation. It’s weird not to mention dangerous to the person whose concentration you’re breaking.

MAYBE make friends in a class, at least you will have that in common and you can actually justify the cost of your membership. Men (yes, men) and women are equally guilty of this.

3. The Multiple Machine Occupier
Rotating between machine sets is a legitimate form of exercise for many. I don’t rotate machines in-between sets b/c I don’t like losing momentum, and personally, I’ve never seen or felt the benefit. I use one machine until my sets are complete and then I move on to the next one, but that’s me. The problem comes in when someone is rotating in-between sets and they think they can leave a machine and it should remain unoccupied until they return to it. He or she leaves a water bottle or a towel or a pair of gloves on the seat as if to say, ‘I’ll be back in a few minutes, nobody use this.’

No, you entitled shit. The gym is packed and you don’t get to claim any machine as “in use” unless your body is actually strapped into it.

This happened to me – again – yesterday. A guy left his gloves on the seat of a particular machine (that there is only one of) and I needed it, meanwhile he’s rotating and for how long I did not know. It was my last set of reps for the day and then I was out. I’m not conducting an investigation. I’m not going to flag the guy down and ask his permission to use a machine he currently is not using (how fucked up would that be), nor am I going to take a poll about his exercise intentions. The machine is unoccupied therefore open for business. I picked his gloves up and moved them to a place of visibility on the machine itself and I did my thing. He looked confused when he came back to find the machine occupied. I did not apologize, nor should I. I did offer a friendly smile. I understand his workout goals and I don’t begrudge them. Expectations should be better managed, though.

4. Eats Full Meals in the Locker Room, Person
Why am I seeing and smelling your Taco Bell in the locker room? Are you powering up before your big workout? On Taco Bell? On any food for that matter? I can’t even begin to express why you shouldn’t carb-load before a workout (that isn’t full throttle cardio for an hour, and even then I wouldn’t recommend it until your food settled) aside from which you may vomit at worst, or cramp and become nauseous at the least, but in the locker room? The locker room, that small space filled with the aromas of sweat, chlorine, body odors, and urine and feces because the toilets are always nearby? Dude, you bought or brought that crap on the way to the gym, eat it in your car.

5. Checking You Out, Person
I’ve seen women do this too, but yes, it’s primarily men. Newsflash – gyms are full of mirrors. When you check someone out, you are checking them out several times. You think it’s about not letting THAT person catch you out but, guess what? Everyone sees you and from several angles too. Idiot.

6. The Flirt
He or she is into you and they want you to know it.

a. They interrupt you to talk bullshit (like stated above but painfully obvious they are trying to flirt, it’s not about having someone to talk to).

b. They hover in the same workout space, trying to get you to notice that they’ve noticed you, hoping you’ll start the conversation first.

c. Have the sheer fucking nerve to stand there and stare at you, waiting for you to stop so they can tell you ALL ABOUT your exercise, how you’re doing it wrong, and how they (usually a he) can show you how to do it correctly. It’s an excuse for them to make conversation and physically interact at the same time.

I’m here for me. I’m not here for you. GFY.

7. The Showoff
Unlike The Flirt, The Showoff goes to the gym intentionally on the prowl. The Flirt is more incidental to a person or situation.

You’ve seen these stereotypes. The male and female version of The Showoff have several shared attributes. The first thing that makes The Showoff stand out is the pacing. When your average person goes to the gym, they have their areas of exercise more or less known and walk to that area with purpose. The Showoff walks the gym first. Gets the lay of the land. They’re trying to figure out where their audience is. So you see them, bodies sculpted and divine, wearing the least amount of clothing allowed by law, wandering the gym LIKE THEY’VE NEVER BEEN IN ONE BEFORE, scoping out either a sexual interest or a competitor with which to compare themselves to.

Also, I never really see The Showoff seriously workout. He or she may lift a weight here and there but eventually their head turns, trying to check out what attention they are generating. I believe they save their real exercise for a later time.

What are some gym personalities you’ve encountered? Maybe gym foibles in general? Please share below.


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