The gym often serves as a sanctuary. It’s a place to work off the stresses of a grinding, thankless job. There’s no honey-do list. No kids talking nonstop. Put on some headphones, and there’s nothing standing in the way of self-improvement.
A gym is where making funny faces in front of strangers is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged. Sweating isn’t nasty; it’s the sure-fire sign of a great workout. Rap to yourself between sets, and no one gives an odd look. Try doing that on the streets without a few awkward glances from passersby.
Yet, the gym, like any other public place, can be an incredibly annoying place, especially during the post-work, pre-dinner rush.
So what annoys you the most at your gym? Is it a lack of nearby parking in the winter? Creepers in the sauna? Old guys staring?
Fortunately for me, those aren’t problems, but the following things are.
5. Mean people. Time to go on the record. Gymtimidation only exists if a person is easily intimidated. Some of the nicest people at the gym, and the first to offer strong advice, are the biggest. Most enter the gym focused, intent to work out, not socialize. That said, the gym is rife with mean people. I’ve dubbed them “bitch faces” and “la douches.” Ladies, if you wear skin-tight, barely there shorts but look straight at the ground, scowl at people when you actually lift your eyes and refuse to speak to the ladies working day care when you pick up your kid(s), you might be a “bitch face.” Fellas, it you finish a set, throw down your weights, stomp around the gym, huffing and puffing, and walk chest out in crowded corridors, you’re probably “la douche.”
4. Messy locker rooms/bathrooms. A common weekend problem, especially if the cleanup crew works weekday hours. There’s urine on the toilets. Toilet paper and paper towels everywhere. And the powder. Oh my, the powder. Pre-workout powder. Post-workout powder, Talcum powder. It’s on the floors, the benches, the counters. Treat the gym like your home and clean it up.
3. Socialists. No, this isn’t a political movement. Socialists are the people using the gym for conversation, merriment and as a primary source of flirting. There are poser clubs, groups who do a set then stare at themselves in the mirror, clenching an arm and hoping no one just saw them flex. There are the cardio chit-chatters – friends walking side by side on treadmills, talking loudly then wondering why they garner the attention of others. Cliques of meatheads who hog the pectoral fly machine for 30 minutes while they talk in between sets.
2. Energy changers. Ever run a 5k or something longer? One of the great, great things about the running community is the positive energy exuded before and after a race. People – total strangers – offer encouragement and congratulations. It’s an incredible feeling, and one that can be replicated at a gym in a more self-contained way. But there are people who impact positive energy in a harmful way. There’s the gym mayor. He’s intent on talking to everyone, asking how the workout is going while putting in little work himself. There’s the meathead. He’s probably got his mesh ballcap on backward with the bill cocked to the right. He moves tons of weight but spends more time looking at himself. There’s the noisemaker. This person grunts through movements and weezes through cardio. There’s the crazy old lady. She wears clothes that don’t fit someone half her age, talks incredibly loud and randomly cackles. There’s the creeper. He takes spin class to look at the ladies in yoga pants and tank tops and makes no effort to work hard.
1. Space hogs. Ever want to get on a machine and can’t because some 100-pound, incredibly ripped lady is doing sets then dropping down on a mat for crunches. And this cycle lasts 20 minutes? Ever want to get changed in the locker room only to have some jabrone hog an entire bench with belongings? Ever want to get on the mats for some ab work only to have a group occupy the area with their free weights and extra equipment while they chat and check their smartphones? If you’ve been to the gym, it’s definitely happened. The gym is a great place to improve yourself, but it’s not all about you. Be respectful of others.