I work out almost every day at a small gym shared by homeowners at a loft complex where I live in downtown Atlanta. At any given time there are anywhere between zero and seven people in there using the free weights or the cardio equipment. It’s like a scary little city full of machines and mirrors and grunting. Everyone seems to do their own little routine, which is the only way I know them mostly, because I try not to talk to neighbors. So I’m the guy who comes and bikes at night for long periods of time and reads and won’t speak to anyone. Here’s some of the others:
“Imp Guy” – The guy I see the most, or who I recognize the most because he drives me nuts, is this 50-ish aged short and rail thin dude who comes in, I think, mostly to watch TV. He always puts on M*A*S*H if it’s that time of day, and if not, it’s violent bro-movies with a lot of shouting and a lot of guns. If he brings his wife he’s not allowed to watch the violent movies; I saw him apologize to her three times when she caught him watching Rambo. He walks on a very slow speed on the treadmill, often stopping to stand and ogle the set. Often he makes little farts while he is walking and doesn’t acknowledge them. He’s always already red-faced before he even starts to exercise. He barely breaks a sweat. I actually saw him sweating once and he took his t-shirt off and was wiping his body with the wet shirt. I didn’t like seeing his nipples. After walking he goes and gets a 15 pound barbell and standing under the TV with it doing slow reps lifting the bar over his head with both hands. He seems to like to talk to other homeowners, like he’ll get into really long conversations with people he knows, sometimes to their seeming discontent. He seems to know I don’t like him and walks around me often widely, though sometimes coming close as if to make me feel bad we don’t talk. I’ve seen him outside the gym once and he was wearing a dark sportscoat and smiling, which seemed insane.
“Networking Bro” – One guy who seems to come in once a month is young and Italian looking. He usually wears a full body black Adidas jumpsuit and a Bluetooth headset. He comes in and sits on one of the other stationary bikes and takes phone calls while riding at a very slow pace. He talks very loud and doesn’t seem to care who hears him. I imagine he burns about 200 calories in an hour with his legs, though the jaw motion likely accelerates that. I think he is a musician because he keeps talking about the size of venues to whoever he’s talking to. Sometimes he tells people they did a good job at something. Once he came in and just stood in the corner taking calls, one of which consisted of a twenty minute diatribe about why people who make money posting shitty videos on youTube are cheating at life. I have a few different times said aloud, “I am going to kill someone,” while he is talking but he hasn’t heard me.
“The Overgrunter” – This guy seems late 30s / early 40s. I think he’s always wearing white. He reminds me of the word “wax.” He’ll usually come and do light weights for about 8-10 minutes. He likes to use the mirrors and watch himself. If he and I are the only people in the room he always grunts really hard and loud when lifting, even when it doesn’t seem like he’s lifting very much. Like a passing-a-kidney-stone-and-having-an-orgasm-at-the-same-time kind of moaning. If someone else is in the room he keeps it quieter. He seems really pale. Once he came to use the stationary bike beside me and brought an oversized water dispenser to sit beside him. Every few minutes he would kind of exaggeratedly lift the container and drink from the water heavily, breathing heavily after, like he’s set the bike on “Sahara” mode. Despite the grunting, he seems to make a point to not look at me directly.
“Lean-It-Over Girl” – This girl always brings a dude in with her even though none of the dudes actually work out. I’ve never seen the same guy come in twice. They are usually dressed like they are ready for the club while she’s in butt-hugging sweatpants, like the ones that are pink and say “Juicy” on the cheeks, as well as a significant amount of make up which by the end begins to smear. It’s always a different guy but they always stand very close to her and talk to her while she walks on the treadmill. Either they or she seems to think something sexy is happening between them. Cardio-foreplay? She talks loudly both to the guys and to the TV, which is usually whatever The Bachelor-esque reality show is on at whatever time. While walking, she always for some reason leans over the front of the treadmill, sticking her ass out really far, as if to let whichever bro have a better lookout while she does her thing.
“Phil Collins Bro” – I’ve only seen this guy twice, but both times he was wearing a red velour tracksuit deal, open at the chest over a wifebeater, plus a set of huge headphones, the kind that everyone else can hear what you are listening to just as well as you can, turned up so loud it’s like I’m the one who’s wearing headphones. Both of the times he was listening to Phil Collins. He took turns alternating between doing an ab exercise and responding to text messages on his iPhone, stopping with the work out every time the default ding noise came in, roughly every 45 seconds.
“Running in the Dark Guy” – One guy only works out after midnight. I used to go in around that time sometimes and would find him there with all the lights turned out, running at high speed on the treadmill in the dark. When I would turn the lights on so I could see where I was going he’d finish up his running pretty soon and leave. Oddly, I can’t remember even a single thing about what he looks like, which makes me wonder if he’s a ghost. If ghosts still have to work out, jesus.
“Spastic Limbs Bro” – About once every other month this guy shows up. I believe he is Spanish. I’ve only ever seen him on the same elliptical unit, as if he won’t use anything else. He turns the TV on but mutes it and does the elliptical motion so fast it always seems like he’s about to break it. Like both hands really fast and intense and legs somehow keeping up. I always keep expecting his body to fly loose of the machine and chug straight on through the gym’s wall like Sonic the Hedgehog but he keeps it on lock. He’ll go like that for like 30 minutes without pausing. He doesn’t even seem to sweat. I think he’s on uppers. He’s already skinny. He seems to like Project Runway a lot, even if he doesn’t listen to the words.
“Thug Grandma” – There’s this grandmother-aged black lady who comes in with her sleeves already rolled up and lifts weights. She seems to focus a lot on working her legs. She can do an insane amount of weight for her age and size, like I always have to move the pin back up when she is done with a machine. I think she has tattoos. She doesn’t smile but still seems nice, in the “I’m letting you come near me” way. I wish she was the only person who was allowed to use the gym.