I just started marathon training for the year, and this year I’ve promised to remember to actually sign up for it. Because of this, I’ve been all but living at my gym recently, which is conveniently located right next to my building. (Fact: It’s one of the reasons I picked my apartment.) My phone is very good at dying on me for no reason, so when all of the Robyn and the Kanye West go away, I’m forced to give up the music and observe other people.
Courtesy of the gym-goers of Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, these are some definite gym don’ts. These are the people you don’t want to be when you grow up.
1. People who leave their towels on the floor in the locker room.
Just because the towels are complementary doesn’t mean you don’t have to pick them up. This isn’t your Mom’s house or tossing peanuts on the ground at the Texas Roadhouse. The people who work there have a lot better things to do than help you pretend like you’re a functioning adult.
2. People who stare at themselves in the mirror.
Popular to contrary belief, your muscles do not grow faster if you stare at them while you work out.
3. People who conveniently leave their stuff on the treadmill to “mark their spot” while they go work out on another machine.
This is not how it works. You don’t get to claim every single piece of equipment you touch, in the hopes that you might come back to it, whenever you feel like it. Machines at the gym are like parking spaces at the shopping mall on Black Friday: you better use it or lose it, and so help me God, if you take up two of them, vengeance will be paid. I’ve seen Oldboy. I know a thing or two about that.
4. People who “grunt” conspicuously loudly.
Working out is just like sex: we can tell when you’re faking it. And your conveniently placed show of manliness is about as believable as Manti Te’o’s girlfriend. A great grunt at the gym has to happen organically. You can’t force these things.
5. People who “dress up” for the gym.
There’s a big difference between “Hey, I can color coordinate an outfit appropriately” and “it’s clear that I have come to the gym only to showcase my assets,” which is the human equivalent of peacock behavior. These are the people who you’ll see conspicuously wiping their face with their shirt or bending down really slowly to show off the stripper outfit they’ve assembled for the occasion.
We get it. You’re hot. But some of us came here to sweat and look vaguely disgusting in a room full of strangers. We didn’t come here to advertise. Save yourself some time and take out a bench ad instead.
6. People who use the excuse of “working in with you” to monopolize the machine.
The last time I consulted Barney, that’s not how we share.
7. People who have sex in the locker room.
You know, a part of me wants to be all, “Bravo, good for you. At least someone around here is getting some.” (I’m certain that I’m going to start developing cobwebs soon or a Bosnian family is going to take up residence inside me. No one else is using it, after all.) But the other part of me really doesn’t want to hear it. We know you’re horny after the gym, but just quietly masturbate in peace, like a normal person.
8. People who try to one-up you.
You know this guy. This is the guy next to you on the treadmill who has to run faster than you or farther than you — and do anything you do better. Dude, this isn’t The Prestige and I’m not going to find a million of your dead clones in the basement. Come here to empower yourself, not to look like a badass in front of other people. You usually just end up looking like a douche.
9. People who bring their boomboxes.
For the record, this has only happened once, but it was so horrifying that it merited inclusion here. Almost everyone brings an iPod or their MP3 player to the gym. I don’t sweat if I’m not sweating to Rihanna. But you bring music for yourself, not you and 12 of your closest strangers who really didn’t need to be hearing dubstep right now. Leave that shit at home.
10. People who are rude to the people who work at the gym.
It’s just like going to a restaurant: If you are rude to the waiter, they should be allowed to spit in your food. Here, if you are rude to the guy at the desk because you’re out of guest passes for the month and, no, you can’t bring seven of your closest friends, he has arms the size of my head. He can probably break you in half — by just looking at you.
11. People who don’t have their cards ready to scan.
This is just like the old ladies with the checks at the grocery store. What else did you think was going to happen now? You knew that when you got inside, you were going to be called upon to retrieve your pass. Why didn’t you get it out already or just buy one of those lanyards? They’re only five-ish bucks and almost every gym sells them. Just skip the protein drink today and make everyone behind you a much happier person. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
12. People who don’t wear underwear.
Yes, non-gym frequenters. This is a thing, and an all-too-common one. The worst part is it’s never the people you’d want. Jon Hamm, you can visit my gym any time.