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Social Misfits You Will Find at the Gym

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In the spirit of full disclosure, it’s one of my goals in life to live to be 150 years old. Because of that goal, many people have asked me about it and, in turn, remarked that they wouldn’t want to live that long because all of their friends and family would already be dead and they would be lonely. I tell those people the same thing that I tell people who say that money can’t buy happiness; maybe it can’t, but I’d still like to give it a try and see for myself.

In the same vein, living to be 150 years old takes a bit of effort. Truthfully, that last statement is pure speculation. I have no idea what it takes to be 150 and as far as I can tell, no one else does either. However for this story let’s just assume I’m correct and in order to live to be 150 you need to be more like Van Damme ripping through the Kumite in Bloodsport and less like Van Damme ripping through cheddar fries at Del Taco.

Armed with my assumption, I spend a pretty good amount of time at the gym and have done so for more years than I’d like to admit (I’m getting old… and no, I haven’t come to grips with it yet). Still, having logged all of that gym-time I have encountered many different types of people and kept somewhat of a mental list of the creatures that lurk inside. However, over the weekend my pal Bobby Kwit finally had enough with the “mental” aspect of the list and took to Facebook to discuss the “oddities” that he sees at his gym. Obviously I knew I wasn’t the only one that noticed these social defectives, but his list did lay the groundwork for this article. I’m fully aware that writing it is only a small part of the battle, and although I fully understand that acceptance is sometimes the hardest part of change… hopefully these undiagnosed Asperger’s suffering workout warriors can recognize their place on the list and change their ways.

This is in no way a comprehensive list. I’m looking at you cell phone guy. Just being in a gym and talking on a cell phone for 90 minutes doesn’t count as a workout. I’m also looking at you Gallon Jug guy. While the rest of us carry around 32oz bottles and can count to 4 (the number of fill-ups necessary to drink a gallon of fluid in a day), you carry around an old milk jug full of water. Date night? School? Your Wedding? Meeting with the CEO of your company? It doesn’t matter the setting, you have a 75% full milk jug container of water with you at all times, just to show how hardcore you are about hydration.

Here we go, in no particular order:

  • The Reverse Wal-Mart – This is the guy who has such poor self-esteem that he’s too embarrassed to show up in the gym in normal workout apparel. Instead he bursts through the door looking like he just got finished with the Idatarod. Layer by layer, he slowly peels the clothing off as the sets go buy and his muscles start to pump. Everyone has seen this guy in action. He enters the gym with his jacket zipped up, 5 shirts deep, and two pairs of sweatpants over a pair of shorts. He walks around then does a set of curls (classic RWM maneuver). After the set he takes his jacket off and reveals his hoodie. Still, not satisfied with himself, he does another set of curls and a set of bench… off comes the hoodie… revealing a hoodless sweatshirt. Next he does a set of squats for no reason other than to get rid of the first layer of sweatpants. He doesn’t have a workout plan in mind, seemingly doesn’t have any goals other than to disrobe and to impress himself in the mirror at the sight of his own nipple. His little dance continues until 45 minutes have gone by, his entire closet is sitting on the floor and he’s standing shirtless, staring at himself in the mirror while pulling his shorts up to check out his quads. His 14” pythons have pumped a full quarter-inch since he got in there and by God he wants you to notice. The Reverse Wal-Mart was aptly named after walking through the store and realizing that 95% of the people there have absolutely no self-esteem issues whatsoever and squeeze their 350lb bodies into the tightest, most repulsing revealing clothes possible and frankly couldn’t care less about what you think or the laws governing public indecency.   
  • Mr. ILS – This is the guy who not only cuts the sleeves off of his t-shirt, but he slices it the entire way down to the bottom so the shirt looks like a sandwich board advertising how to be a loser. If he doesn’t have a t-shirt handy, he does the same with a beater he has lying around. His goal is to show off every inch of lat muscle that he has tirelessly built up. The problem is for Mr. ILS, is that there isn’t a lat to be found. While that would deter a mere mortal, this physical specimen suffers from the dangerous gym disease of Imaginary Lat Syndrome. Yes, Mr. ILS proudly prances around the gym doing his best scarecrow impression; his upper arms fully out to the sides and elbows bent at 90 degree angles. His (imaginary) lats are far too pumped up… there is no way that he could ever let his arms just hang down by his sides (unless of course he is attacked by his arch-nemesis the tickle-monster). 
  • The Noise Posse – These next four people don’t always hang out together, but undoubtedly they would get along really well if they joined forces.
    • Captain Grunts – This is the person at the gym that seemingly draws their lifeforce from primeval places. They can’t even pick up a weight without attempting to exorcise the demons from dark depths of their being. Generally these are powerlifters that are twice the size of a Volkswagon Beetle with HGH-inflated heads and “Shut Up and Bench” tank tops and Zubaz pants. They grunt like they are being tazed as they attempt to squat 800lbs with their knee straps, steroid induced receding hairlines, and death metal dreams. If you were in another room, you would swear that they are giving birth to a hippopotamus, and that’s before they even lift the bar. Once they do, anyone within a 3 mile radius will be able to hear what sounds are made when people pass kidney stones the size of peach pits. The 2nd version of Captain Grunts is even more sad… it’s the grossly undersized coypcat with 10lb dumbbells that sounds like they are auditioning for Gwar with every sad half-rep.
    • XTREEEEEEME – This close relative of Captain Grunts has taken one extra evolutionary step and can actually verbalize his passion. He doesn’t grunt, but he attempts to pump himself up before every set. He yells things like “SET THAT SH*T UP!!!!!!”, “LIGHT WEIGHT! LIGHT WEIGHT!”, “I’M THE KING BABY!!!!!”, “WHO’S YOUR DADDY?!!!!!!!”, and “I HAVE REALLY TINY TESTICLES!!” Ok, maybe they don’t say that last one, but they might as well. They finish their 2-rep, way to heavy set by narrowly avoiding a broken back and screaming “YEAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” as if they won some sort of talent search to find the biggest d-bag in the country. Most XTREEEEEEMEs were former high school wrestlers who won 5% of their matches and were roundly hated by the rest of the team. They generally talk about how they could’ve played (insert sport) on a full ride to (insert major college), but they decided not to because (made-up story about injury, lack of caring, or they didn’t want to bother with college because they were good enough to go pro). XTREEEEEEME now tells everyone that he’s going to be in the UFC and pays thousands of dollars to get their faced kicked in by actual athletes at the local MMA gym.
    • Karaoke Legend – This is the person who gets so caught up their personal “Rachel’s Rad Workout Mix” or “Jimmy’s Jacked Up Jams” that they can’t help but sing screech along to the songs. Aside from being tone-deaf, the must have a parrot-sized brain. While it only takes a blanket over the cage for a parrot to think it’s nighttime, the Karaoke Legend seems to believe that popping in some earbuds means that, because they can’t hear themselves, no one else can either. The Karaoke Legend is only topped by the people that don’t bring iPods but need to flex their golden pipes so badly that they belt out any song playing over the gym speakers. While it may in fact be a Party in the USA, it certainly isn’t for anyone else’s eardrums. Thankfully these people are mostly confined gym and their own cars and not in charge of brain surgeries or nuclear power plants. 
    • Mr. WTF? – This guy is a real wild-card; Here is a good starting point for comparison. Mr. WTF? Takes it to a whole new level. This is the type of guy who probably shouldn’t be in society, but so far has avoided the nuthouse. He makes noises and utters phrases that aren’t only nonsensical, but can only be based in serious mental illness. One guy, who we only knew as “Huggy Bear” would finish every set with a chanted phrase like “Rainbow Brite, to the hills tonight!” or “One, Two, Huggy for you!” It’s definitely someone that you don’t ever want to find out which car you drive just to avoid the small chance that they can find your address by license plate search. 
  • Suppman – This guy enters the gym with a walking meth lab in his bag. He has at least 3 shaker cups filled of various powders and bottle after bottle of the latest and greatest supplement that will give you 10,000% gains in 1 week! He spends 75% of his time in the gym talking about how geranium oil will turn you from a fat slob into a marathon runner in 3 hours… or how the latest Chelated Bovine Sperm will increase free-test levels by 224%. Suppman spends hundreds of dollars a month on 50,000mg proprietary blends of do-nothing supplements like L-arginine and Hydrolated Hybrid Corn Starch. Their motto is “Recovery drink slammed before the weight hits the floor!!” They believe anything and everything that supplement companies tell them and think they will be Mr. Olympia if they mega-dose 80g of Beta-Alanine with 3,000g of caffeine anhydrous. Actual working out be damned, they don’t need to do more than 1 set as long as they take dandelion root and uva ursi in a rage-stack with powdered agmatine. Here are the facts: some over-the-counter supplements do actually aid in training, but most “revolutionary ($5 per serving) pre-workout formulas” are simply placebos whose sole purpose could be accomplished with a $5 bottle of caffeine tabs. Still, these guys spend 3 hours in the gym spouting off BroScience about how they saw on PubMed that Alpha-1-methodyl-3-hydroandro-43-stione will make you gain 50lbs of pure muscle in 9 days. Truth is, if what you’re taking isn’t on this list there’s a 99% chance that it doesn’t work… and you are probably doing more harm than actually taking a banned substance would. 
  • Why God, Why? – I used to think this was a male only problem… but after talking with a few people I found out that scarily, that’s not the case. This may be the most disturbing of all gym offenders. Of course, I’m talking about the elderly people in the locker room who have somehow developed a clothing allergy. On one hand I give them credit for getting to the state of mind where they just don’t care anymore. Unfortunately, their dementia-fueled freedom means that while the rest of us may be doing all that we can to fight the unwinnable fight against gravity, oxidation, and old age, we are constantly reminded that no matter what at some point in our lives that our manparts will resemble elongated shrunken prunes. More often than not, that reminder will be as you are bending down to tie your shoes and the wrinkled ballbag comes flopping by at eye-level, or as they attempt to draw you in to long political conversations. My rules for conversing with nude people of the same gender are: 1) not to do it; and 2) if it must be done, it is only done with one word syllables or sounds. Ladies, you aren’t out of the woods, if your timing is wrong, you will encounter the end of the 85+ year-old waterobics class and the parade of sagginess that follows soon after. It seems that the older you get, the less you care. It’s a wonderful thing to live freely and to not be offended by your own body… but it’s another thing entirely to offend everyone else with your body. 
  • The Princess – Shocking that I don’t find The Princess anywhere near as offensive as the others on this list, or offensive at all for that matter. However, I certainly can’t speak for the middle-aged women that stare daggers at the princesses and their sculpted bodies powered by super-high metabolism, not yet affected by the beauty-killing forces of gravity. Here is the basic rundown. They are dressed head-to-toe in the latest matching Lululemon gear (or whatever brand of $100 pants is fashionable at that time). They hop on the elliptical and put it on the perfect setting to make it look like they are really working, but not high enough to actually break a sweat. Their hair is perfectly coiffed, makeup applied evenly and as perfectly as if they are going to their own wedding after this gym pit-stop. I’m not sure why the princess wears hoop earrings and a fresh coat of nail polish as she finishes off her 20 minute workout with 5 minutes of stretches… but I am certain that if I invented a workout shoe with a 4-inch heel, I would be a multi-millionaire all thanks to the princess.
  • The Fountain – Sweating in a gym is normal, even encouraged. But this person takes it to a whole new level. I totally understand that some people sweat more than others, Kevin Garnett for one, sweats more than any single person in human history. He easily loses 3 liters of liquid simply eating breakfast and another liter thinking about lunch. Fortunately for those in Boston, Garnett has eleventy-billion dollars, so when he isn’t working out with the Celtics, he’s in his house with a better gym than any of us would even be allowed into. Even though KG has the sweatiest man in the universe title wrapped up, that doesn’t stop hordes of challengers at gyms around the country from throwing their hat in the ring in an attempt to dethrone the champ. If you are The Fountain, not much you can do about it other than own it and be considerate. No one minds if you sweat through both of your shirts and can power wash your house with the amount of liquid you excrete in a day. However, they do mind if you make your own soup on every machine and don’t bother wiping it down. They also mind if you have some sort of pent up rage against deodorant manufacturers and their products. The Fountain is very close in relation to Cousin Itt… who didn’t make the list, but has more hair follicles per square inch than my TV has pixels… and usually not on their head. I’m convinced that Cousin Itt lives outside, forages for food, and holds the genetic key to fixing the hole in the ozone layer within their hair growing chromosomes. 
  • Jeans Guy – Undoubtedly Brett Favre’s biggest fan. Jeans Guy only has one goal in mind… playing mud football in his Wranglers with the ol’ gunslinger himself. Other than for that reason, I have no idea a person would come to the gym, ready to workout in jeans and a polo or long-sleeve button-up. Usually this guy is wearing some sort of boots but there are plenty who show up in their shiny new penny loafers. If Jeans Guy chooses this as his workout apparel, I can’t help but wonder what other fashion choices he makes. Does he sleep in a business suit? Head to the beach in full camo? These are the types of question that demand answers. To be fair, odds are that this guy hasn’t been to the gym since the ‘70s and doesn’t know any better. While I give tremendous credit to anyone that attempts to better themselves through exercise, this guy does way more harm than good. He generally picks up some dumbbells, disregarding whether or not they actually match weights and moves them around in a bizarre unnatural way. When he puts them down, he usually takes a lap and perplexingly looks around at the machines like they are some sort of medieval torture chambers. Once he acclimates himself, he might fit right in… until then he will continue to single-handedly keep Gold Bond Medicated Powder in production.
  • The Creeper – If you’ve ever been here, there is a very good chance you will find the creeper’s house highlighted in red. This guy is certainly not limited to the gym, but it’s arguably his bread and butter. His favorite place in the gym? Cardio row. In fact that’s the only place you will ever find him since he never touches a weight. More often than not he dresses like your high school gym teacher… actually in many cases he probably is a high school gym teacher. Armed with a lifetime suppy of Horny Goat Weed, the creeper’s only mission is to make women feel as uncomfortable as possible. While most people have the ability to notice attractive members of the opposite sex without making them feel the need to shower afterwards, the creeper blankly stares at women like they are part of a Magic Eye book. Here’s a perfect example of a creeper in action. There’s a guy at my gym that waits for a parking spot to open up in the front so he can get a good look at cardio row. He then spends the next 20 minutes sitting in his car “talking on his phone.” I put that in quotes because 1) this guy is the type that has to go door-to-door and explain who he is to the neighborhood if you catch my drift and people have a remarkable ability to recognize sex offenders, and 2) one time I was walking past his car and his phone started ringing while he was “talking” on it already. After the 20 minutes of self-manipulation in his car, he finally enters the gym and takes a couple laps to scout out the talent on that day. He then finds a cardio machine as close to the best looking Princess on that day… and the ogling begins. He makes no effort to be discreet or use his peripherals; he put whatever machine he is using on the lowest setting and just stares at the woman in the mirror with his mouth agape and his tongue nearly hanging out until the woman has finally had enough and has to find another machine. Undeterred he follows her or, in the event that she leaves, sets his sights on another princess and follows the same protocol. Every once in awhile, on days when he’s feeling extra frisky, he will attempt to chat up the nearest lady. However, he still hasn’t gotten out of the first stage of infancy and tries to draw the woman into conversation without looking at anything but her chest. If you or someone you know is the creeper, seek help; seriously. The next step on the creeper’s progression of perversion is to actually commit a crime. Someone needs to stop them before it’s too late.
  • MacGyver – This person is usually dressed in a bodysuit with aerodynamically designed sunglasses and armed with the latest workout magazines and a bag full of what looks to be camping supplies; and they enter the gym on a mission. The mission? To look as stupid as humanly possible while “exercising.” Despite the fact that 99.9% of fitness experts utilize the same groups of exercises, that just won’t fly with MacGyver. They won’t be satisfied until they are hanging upside-down on a Swiss Ball with a metronome attached to their ear and a kettlebell on their toe. They talk about muscle-fiber recruitment and how reverse inverted squat thrusts with the low pulley can change slow-twitch fibers into fast-twitch. Despite all the BroScience gained from Flex magazine, they still can’t seem to get rid of that gut or build any actual muscle. Don’t think that little fact will deter them, they will be back next week with a birdcage on their head to “increase mental focus by 170%” as they do a handstand on the stairmaster because “Dr. Muscletech said that walking the stairs with your hands will build your delts twice as fast as shoulder pressing.” 
  • Paris Hilton – Everyone sees these people at the gym. They are the girl/guy that was really cool in high school, mistakenly thinks that people still wants to talk to them, and will make sure that they talk to everyone. Paris Hilton is equivalent to the Backstreet Boy who were popular for about 45 minutes until N’Sync came along. In Paris’s case it was Kim Kardashian, but you get the picture. At least for Paris and the Backstreet Boys they still have wealth to fall back on… well except for the one guy that thought he was hardcore with the tattoos and weird facial hair; I’m assuming he lives in a gutter somewhere. The Paris Hilton’s of the gym neither have wealth, nor a real purpose in life other than attempting to hi-jack your workout routine. They NEVER shut up…ever. They don’t work out, they just get on workout gear, go to the gym, and attempt to start conversations that will fill the loneliness in their heart. They basically pay $500 per year just to have social interaction with people in a confined area. The best technique is to ignore them for as long as possible. If they persist, you may have to take your earbuds out and give them a look that shows them you don’t care. That doesn’t always work though, I once had a Paris Hilton (who I’d never met) interrupt my set to ask me if I thought Target carried speaker wire. The only thing to do in that situation is point to someone else in the gym and say: “That guy over there was just talking about that.”
  • Narcissus – There are mirrors in gyms for one main reason: to check your form and make sure that you are doing exercises correctly. They are not in gyms for high schooler guys to pause between every rep and check their biceps. Unfortunately I encounter far more of the latter than the former. Narcissus is usually on the cusp of decent shape but in their eyes, their 2-pack is the stuff dreams are made of and they want to admire it any time they can. Narcissus is the advanced version of The RWM, and here are key ways to spot them:
    • Their eyes fixate on themselves from the moment they step into the gym; acting as if they have never seen this newly invented reflective wall-hanging. They refuse to stop staring at it because they aren’t sure if it will disappear when they do.
    • They spend 15 minutes per gym session practicing the perfect face for their Facebook profile…smiling, no, angry, no, confused, no smirking… then another 20-25 minutes holding that face while attempting to take a mirror picture that shows their single ab from the perfect angle
    • Advanced Narcissus will tell anyone within earshot about the “show” they have upcoming then practice their posing routine directly in front of the dumbbell racks. Even though they spend thousands on supplements and steroids evidently they can’t locate $20 to spring for a full length mirror for their home
    • Another advanced Narcissus techniques is to go for the glory and fully annoy the already disturbed and confused people around you by asking nonsensical questions like: “Bro, can you see the veins in my glutes?” Listen man, if you want to get up on stage and hug a bunch of naked men in an attempt to impress other men, more power to you, but 1) not even a single cell of my being cares if your “glutes” are vascular and 2) I don’t want them anywhere near me or my line of sight.


One Response to “Social Misfits You Will Find at the Gym”


    Posted by BDigital | January 18, 2012, 7:27 am

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