Thursday, January 28, 2010

Creatures of the Gym

My fiancée and I typically hit the gym together on Wednesday nights after work. Most of the year, we tend to see a lot of the same people week after week.

Things are a little different at the first of the year. The regulars are there, but as everyone’s New Year’s resolutions kick in, there is a noticeable flood of new faces in January that slowly dwindles until about mid-February.

You can tell who isn’t going to be long for the gym world. There are some who aimlessly walk around, looking sideways at the weight machines but never getting on any of the ones they don’t understand. They’re intimidated by the machines and are too embarrassed to ask anyone how to use them. Men tend to worry they’ll look weak, and women tend to worry they’ll look silly. Either way, the fear of embarrassment prevents them from getting anything out of their visit.

There are others who simply look miserable. They get on the elliptical or treadmill for 5 minutes, put it on way too challenging a level for them, start gasping, and walk away with their head down. Maybe they lie down on a mat, struggle to do 4 situps, and give up because they figure they’re too far gone to ever get in shape. Or maybe they try a yoga class because it seems fun, but they get discouraged because they can’t touch their toes and the other students are standing on their heads.

I feel bad for these two groups, because they really just need a little instruction, reassurance, and encouragement. They need to know how to get the most out of their time, and a reminder that a sedentary person’s fitness level improves very, very quickly. Mostly, they need to know that tangible results aren’t far off.

On the other hand, there are those who I simply wish would leave. There aren’t many at my gym, so they stick out like sore thumbs.


People on their cell phones while they’re on the cardio equipment.

Jackasses who talk to people in the two groups above about how you absolutely need to eat 12 times a day and work out 6 days a week, thereby destroying what little desire they had to be there in the first place.

Oh, and this other guy.

One of the new faces last week caught my attention. He was fairly douchey looking--tribal tattoo on calf, bad fauxhawk (I know that’s redundant)--but not epically so. Oh, except for one detail: he was wearing sunglasses inside to work out.

He moved at glacier’s pace from machine to machine, nonchalantly sitting there between sets and halfassing his workout. Then, something about his mannerisms made it all click in my head.

As my fiancée and I walked around the track, she mentioned the guy. “What’s that about? Did he sit on his glasses and have to wear his sunglasses to see?”

No, these were Fake-leys (yes, he’s that guy) and there is no way they’re prescription.

“Does he just want to avoid eye contact? Maybe he got punched at the bar.”

Well, that’s a distinct possibility, but you're giving him too much credit.

I think there’s a more likely explanation.

He was trying to check out some ass.

The way he would sit too long on one machine, then move for a better view when the girl got on the leg curl machine. You know, the one where she lays on her stomach.

The way he stopped in his tracks, pretending to play with his iPod, while a girl was stretching in the hallway.

He thought he was discreet, but it was blindingly clear to me.

Look, my gym is certainly not a meat market, but by definition there are a lot of fit women in tight clothing. And no one is pretending there’s no mutual checking out going on.

But by putting on the shades, he’s basically putting a pervy spotlight on himself. Sorry, but you’ve gone too far, jackass. I’m onto you.


m.v. said...

I was one of the 1st two groups,but I figured some machines and used them and also took spinning and body-something. After 3 years I got really tired and quit altogether and 20 lbs later I need to go back sooner rather than later.

Pete said...

I think what many people who eventually quit fail to realize is that any activity is better than no activity and you need to be realistic. As with anything in life, as a beginner you're not going to be anywhere near as good as those who have been doing it far longer. Accept the fact that you're not as good, but know that you can get there.

Josh, I'm sorry you guys had to deal with Gym Guy.

JJSKCK said...

I think the issue with the people who go three or four times and quit is that they expect to start seeing results immediately.

My thing is, people don't gain the extra weight and lose their fitness level in 2 months...but they expect to lose the weight and be back in shape in that span of time.