I’ve been told before that I’m too harsh and judgmental when it comes to other people. I tend to disagree. I feel like any good writer has to have this quality in them. I enjoy watching and analyzing the way people behave and act around one another.
I do feel like I actually have a lot of patience for people in general. First off, I’m a teacher so you sort of have to in my line of work. I also feel like I have a large and varied group of friends with all sorts of backgrounds, opinions, and interests and generally like people before I dislike them, and am usually open to new people and experiences.
That being said, going to the gym is increasingly turning me into the judgmental asshole I always argue that I’m not. I’m starting to become convinced that the simple act of exercises actually causes us to be worse humans.
I go to the gym to workout. I pay a monthly fee to do so and while I realize that other people are also paying this same monthly fee, I feel that some sort of etiquette should be in place to ensure that all parties are getting their money’s worth.
A lot of people don’t share this approach.
Maybe it’s because body image makes people incredibly self-conscious and maybe it’s because too many people are jammed in close quarters trying to accomplish something and maybe it’s just the excessive testosterone but I feel like the gym turns people in grade-A assholes. The thing is, there’s a pattern to the douche-bag behavior-these same tropes show up in some manifestation in every gym I’ve been to.
Here are, in no specific order, the top offenders. If you see signs of yourself here, please adjust accordingly and thank me for making you a better person:
1. The Person with Body Odor
You’d think that a cardinal rule of working out would be to put on some deodorant. Listen, I’m aware that everyone’s body is different and some people sweat more than others, but for God’s sake, if you need prescription strength deodorant, get on that. I’m not talking about a whiff here or there or some smelling a little sweaty and ripe. I’m talking about the people who make everyone in a 20 foot radius gag.
I’ve had people make fun of me for wearing cologne to the gym, but I’m simply taking extra precaution. If my deodorant decides to not kick in would you rather be assaulted by disgusting body odor or a fragrant cloud of Abercrombie and Fitch Fierce ( maybe don’t answer that)?
2. The “New F**kin’ Haircut Guy”
It’s funny on YouTube. It’s nauseating in person.
3. The “Can I Work in With You” Dude
This is only an issue if the gym is empty. If it is crowded, and I’m on a machine for a while, and you’re on a time constraint, then by all means ask when I’ll be done or if you could work in with me.
If we are the only two people in the gym, then there’s no need for you to have to be on the same machine I am. The order in which you do your workout will not get that last 5 pounds off. And standing and staring at me will not make me go faster. That will make me do a few extra sets.
4. The “Let’s Talk About Our Diets” Guy
Again, I’m not completely averse to chatting with someone at the gym. However, much as I don’t want to hear you’re fitness advice, I don’t want to talk about diets. I spend extra time at the gym so that my long standing love affair with wings and beer will not be disrupted. I don’t want to eat like a cave man, I consider dairy to be the most important food group, I actively like gluten and I don’t get why kale is a thing. I don’t want to know what food I can cut out to give me a six pack.
If you want to talk about the fun kind of six pack though, I’m all ears.
5. The Grunter
Sometimes you have to grunt or yell to exert yourself fully. I’m ok with that. I’m talking about the people who have to make some sort of guttural sound for every move they make who I can hear over the Ipod. There’s a reason people have sex and take shits in private. It’s not pleasant to the ear.
6. The Picture Taker
Now I realize that uploading pictures of you doing pushups is the new trendy Facebook/Instagram fad, but A) you’re not 18 B) it’s not that impressive and C) I pay to go to the gym so that I don’t have to workout where the general public could see my sweaty-borderline-asthmatic-self in motion, which is why I get extra pissy when I get caught in the crossfire of someone’s selfie.
7. The Person Doing CrossFit or Yoga or Some Weird Stretch Exercise or Generally Anything Screaming “Look at Me”/taking up too much space
You’re at the YMCA. There’s cardio machines, there’s free weights, and there’s a room for you to jump rope and do sit-ups in. There’s also a running track and a swimming pool and different classes. Do the appropriate exercises in the appropriate spaces. There’s no need to do 20 meter sprints where everyone else is trying to walk and no need to stand on top of a box and do elaborate yoga moves. If you require more than a 20 foot radius go outside. And if you’re a “CrossFit enthusiast” then stop being such a cheap ass and go join a CrossFit gym where there’s the appropriate space and equipment set up for you.
This is the gym equivalent of singing in public or playing Frisbee on a college green. If you need that much attention, find a karaoke bar.
There’s a group of guys that go to my gym. They’re around my age and they all gather together and just talk for like an entire hour. They don’t gather in the lobby and they don’t gather in the changing area. They gather right in the middle of everything and get huffy when you ask them to move. It’s a gym, not a hangout. This also goes for teenagers, and the weird women who come to watch their men workout.
9. Out of Control Children
I should probably have a little pit more compassion for the parent who’s just trying to shed a few pounds and has no where else to bring their kids, but I deal with out of control children all day. The other day I told a group of rambunctious teenagers to “quit being knuckleheads.” Don’t turn me into that guy just yet.
10. Inappropriate Dressers
I’m not going to give this one too many time or words. I don’t need to see your ass crack. I don’t want to have to wash your back sweat off a bench. I don’t need to see your vagina or balls (and these offenders are always old which is doubly offensive). Put on a shirt and make sure your shorts cover your genitals.
11. The Unsolicited Advice Giver
I know I said that there’s no particular order here, but I unintentionally saved my most hated for last.
Unless you went to college for exercise science or have actually been some sort of professional athlete, then realize you’re unqualified to dole out advice. You’re college weight lifting class doesn’t count, I too subscribe to Men’s Health, and “I played football in high school” is a moot after the age of 18.
Also, even if you are an exercise science major or have some sort of professional accreditation, giving unsolicited advice just makes you a dick. I have an English major. I don’t walk around correcting people’s grammar constantly.
Now, if you see me doing something incredibly dangerous that you know could hurt them( and only know from PERSONAL experience) then by all means jump in, but otherwise, keep your information to yourself.
*Sidenote: this does not include personal trainers (legitimately certified personal trainers) trying to drum up business. I will probably still ignore you, but I respect your hustle.