When you’ve just joined a gym, the sight (or horror of the sight) may be overwhelming. The cardio section feels like you’re watching human hamsters, happily or wearily running away on their human hamster wheels. The weight room is probably a dozen kegs shy of a frat house. And, the worst part, you’re gung ho about your new year’s resolutions, but there’s a line for everything, because so are the 2,793,845,016 other people in the gym. All this can be overwhelming and make you feel like:
What to do now? You can look at instagram, take cute photos of yourself posing next to dumbbells to instagram, or people watch. For better or worse, I end up usually staring at a TV (hums sportscenter theme) or at the wide variety of people at the gym. Within the gym social complex, I’ve found 3 types of people: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. For anyone who has looked up and observed their surroundings in a gym, which, you’ll be surprised to find, is not 100% of the people in said gym, you’ll see different subtypes within each group. Below are my personal observations:
These are typically kind individuals who are, above all else, thoughtful of everyone around them. They tend to make you feel better by just speaking with you, for example, by simply asking if you’d like to work in, or agreeing to spot you on a set of heavy reps. The Good also place equipment back where they found them, like mats, foam rollers, boxes, etc. They can be silently good as well, by that I mean, they’re just minding their own business, working towards their fitness goals. And sometimes, those are the most inspiring because they motivate you to better yourself as well. Above all else, the Good make the gym a GOOD experience.
“Can’t live without you guys”
Trainers who are on the floor to help with any question you might have. Sometimes this is your personal trainer, telling you that you’ve done a good job or helping correct your form. Other times, it’s the trainer on duty, automatically stepping in to help you improve your workout. This is also any gym member who offers to help spot you.
“Sharing is caring”
That person who let you work into their set, even if you need to take 100 lbs off the rack so you can actually lift it. Positivity is contagious — when I’m offered to work in, I offer the same to others. This also creates efficiency because as you rest, someone else is using the machine and vice versa. You get your workout done on time as does your new friend. If it involves heavy weights, you and the Work-In Joe may end up spotting each other too! I’ll share with Ryan Gosling any day.
People who pick up after themselves and put equipment back where they found it. This makes getting the equipment less of a time kill. I hate it when I have to circle laps around the gym to find the ropes for the tricep pull downs, or that missing 25lb weight because someone thought they needed it on the other side of the floor but didn’t bother to return it to the rack.
“No pain, no gain…keep killin’ it and go get’em”
It doesn’t matter what you weigh or how you look, you have a goal and you’re gonna reach it. I often see a mass of people around Jan, but only a fraction make it to March. To those who start a regiment and are hell bent on seeing it through, I salute you.
The people I glare at. I was told once that I was the angry person at the gym. Well, I’ve encountered the Bad more often than I’d like, and if you’re reading this, changing your behavior would make all of our lives easier. I said positive behavior is contagious, well, so’s negative behavior. I think I would’ve done well in medieval times, as I live by the “an eye for an eye” rule at the gym 😉
“Move b*tch, get out the way”
Looks down at phone while walking, fails to see that you’re going to plow right into them with a sled. Yep, almost happened the other day, they were lucky my legs were practically dead at that point. Another person was looking intently at her phone and walking, and did that across the floor before stopping about 1-2 feet in front of me. They looked up and I glared back, “Do you expect me to move because you weren’t looking? Hells f***ing no”.
“Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share”
These guys/girls leave their used stuff everywhere, including the towel, so you don’t know if their done or not. The only thing NOT left there is a personal item, like a water bottle or a phone, to let others know they’re returning. I’ve taken the same approach as I’ve done with scarce laundry machines at Duke: you snooze, you lose. I ask people around me and wait about 5 sec. If no one claims the spot, I take it. These are also the people that just leave their equipment lying around after they’re done so you can’t find them. I’m sure the trainers who have to clean up the floor love them just as much as I do, if not more.
“My weight who?”
“My weight so please don’t take it, ok?”
The lovely folks that take your stuff even though you’ve done the animal kingdom equivalent of peeing to mark your territory. For example, I was switching between single arm dumbbell rows and lat pull downs. When a girl puts her phone, headphones, waterbottle, and free weight on the bench, it indicates she’s coming back to it. You don’t take the weight without asking. Maybe next time I should squirt a circle of water around the bench with my water bottle, put up a giant sign that says, “GIRL LIFTING HERE, SEE LAT PULLDOWN IF YOU WANT TO WORK IN, THANKS KBAI”…or I could write Phoebe’s note.
“It’s great bro that you’re so into fitness that you want to like the 20 #fitchicks posts you’ve seen, but can you do that after you’ve done your set please?”
I like viewing my instagram. I also like seeing what my friends are up to on Facebook. I really, really like watching live sports stats flash across my phone. But, I try to limit that when it’s a busy day at the gym and someone is breathing down my neck, waiting to ask to work in or use the bench. The Social Butterfly flutters about in a carefree manner, oblivious to the line forming behind them. I personally like to stare at a person as they scroll up/down/left/right until they look up. What’s alright about Social Butterflies is, they normally are perfectly cool with sharing. Who doesn’t want more time to see what’s going on in other people’s lives?
I wish I was blind, deaf, and dumb to this. But alas, I’m not. Maybe I should take out my contacts one day so it’s all a blur, haha. I have nothing personally against the Ugly, as opposed to the Bad. But, I do wish they could take a step back and, well, check their surroundings.
This happens more with guys than girls. I’m not quite sure why they do it. Maybe they revert to their primal instincts when deadlifting 400lbs and have to release their built up energy in one epic yell. “ARGHHHH!” It’s great, because that’s exactly what I want to hear as I’m listening to my music and minding my own business. “ARGHHHHHH!” Oh, there’s rep two, guess he’s not maxing out. “ARGHHHHHHHHHH!” Get a room…PLEASE. “ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Nope you’re not green yet, keep trying, “ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” You’re actually more red than green, maybe you need to contact Bruce Banner and get an expert opinion on this…
Max Effort Dawg
“So me put in…work…work…work…work..,.work…work…work”
It’s like Rihanna’s song…you see what they’re trying to do, but you don’t quite understand it. The Max Effort Dawgs try really hard, which I admire. But, after having some professional coaching, I’ve grown more aware of how to maintain the right form and, more importantly, to stop when my form goes to crap. That and a proper warm up are probably two of the most effective ways to prevent injury. So, when super speedy speedster finishes 1,694,562,835 reps of kipping pull ups, with their legs flailing about as if independent from their body, I’m a bit scared for them.
“I won’t show you my bra if you don’t show me yours”
It’s an undershirt, not workout clothes. ‘Nuff said.
Take a look around your gym and see if you notice similar sets of people. The best way to not let the Bad and the Ugly kill the workout mood is to focus on the Good. After all, you’re planning to crush your personal goals at the gym, so really, the main focus of any workout is yourself. So, once more, focus on the Good, build a thick skin for the Bad, and laugh and shrug off what you see/hear with the Ugly. Whatever you do, don’t do this: