There’s a real cast of characters hitting the gym these days. Back in early gym times, the clientele was pretty uniform: dudes in their 40’s in black and white striped one-pieces with the seemingly enforceable-by-law curly moustaches. That’s because back then instead of hitting the free weights three times a week and perhaps a light jog now and then, most people were keeping in shape by tilling the soil twenty hours a day and chopping forests-worth of wood so they wouldn’t freeze to death each night. If you could lift 150 pound dumbbells you were put in a traveling circus freak show as a “strong man” and a spectacle to behold. And the only time a woman could sneak in any cardio was if the pantry was a particularly long distance from the stove.
Today we have to deliberately make an effort to get off our asses and keep in shape. And with the pressures of society (see: “The Situation”) to be trim and fit, people of all shapes, colors, ages, sizes and genitalia are heading into their local fitness clubs to “get cut,” a term your grandmother surely believes is something very illegal. And though the gym-rats have grown more diverse lately, there is a pattern that has emerged. Here are the seven people you will always find at any gym, anywhere. Be warned: you might just be one of them.
The Guy Who Tries Desperately To Distract Himself
He comes in many forms, but you’ve seen him. This is the guy who uses his time at the gym to do all the other shit in his life he‘d rather be doing, the idea being that if he’s absorbed in the latest Dan Brown novel while on the elliptical, it won’t feel like he’s been running so long his calves might actually burn off. Or if he’s doing reps to the beat of his favorite Bone Thugs tune, it won’t feel like he’s intentionally damaging his muscle tissue in hopes that it will grow back bigger and stronger. This person will stop at nothing to trick his body into believing it is not doing what it is currently in the act of doing. Is working out so unpleasant that you have to bring a portable DVD player to screen season three of How I Met Your Mother while you cycle at zero incline for twenty minutes? You’re not even getting a whole episode in. And how about you just run on the treadmill, instead of using the time to write your screenplay or something? For this man, these things are excruciatingly impossible.
Routine: 5 minutes – stretch while getting some quality social networking in on phone
Run 3 miles and level up all guys in Final Fantasy on PSP
5 reps of 30 on rower while learning how to brew perfect cup of coffee
5 reps of 30 on leg & hip machine while weaving baskets for thoughtful in-law anniversary gift
How Not To Be Them: Avoid taking distracting accessories in with you like your phone or iPod. Take joy in the fact you are healthy and able-bodied enough to be working out in a gym in the first place and embrace the pain.
The Overzealous Spotter
Be wary. These guys are lurking around the gym and there’s no way of telling who is one of them until you have 200 pounds of weight crushing your jugular and he’s still screaming at you “Come on, you can do one more! Give me one more!” These men are the reason why we suggest you and a trusted friend accompany one another to the gym as mutual spotters; the Overzealous Spotter is perhaps a life-threatening danger. It would appear that the Overzealous Spotter believes his voice magical and that it will enable you to lift more weight the louder he screams and the more he repeats himself. Meanwhile, your right lung has been collapsed for the last twenty minutes. And still, it is undetermined whether it is worse to be the one being screamed at, or everyone else in the gym who has to listen to this dude verbally will strength you do not possess into existence. He thinks every bench press is the climax of an underdog sports-movie where he is the motivating-speech-giver that rallies the main characters into going out there and winning the big game! In reality, this man has never tasted the sweet taste of victory in anything he’s ever competed in in his life.
Routine: B-line to the free-weights.
Look for dudes who need spotters.
If nobody needs a spotter, spot for them anyway. They will thank you later.
High-five everyone for a great work-out. Invite them over for beers later.
Drink a single beer alone on your couch. Fall asleep to Letterman’s opening monologue.
How To Not Be Them: Focus on your own work-out and think about what would get you motivated enough to give that little extra amount of energy we sometimes need. You should come to the logical conclusion that it is not an obnoxious sweaty dude screaming three inches from your face for the entire gym to witness. Take it down a couple notches.
The Hot Girl Who Can Kick Your Ass
Okay, so there’s probably a few of these at every gym… Maybe even one or two in other places as well. But it should be made clear that there is a spectrum here. At one end are the Hot Girls Who Can Kick Your Ass, and at the other… just plain Girls Who Can Kick Your Ass. It’s the difference between Angelina Jolie and, let’s say, the WWE’s Chyna. And as we recall, Chyna was quite partial to supplying vicious nut shots to dudes who never saw them coming, an evil surely reserved for the deepest layers of hell. Having said this, it is important to differentiate between these types of women. It’s not always a turn-on when a girl can beat you in Horse or bench more weight than you. But there’s always that one special lady who’s beauty and brawn work in a magical and balanced symmetry. For example, a Kate Beckinsale, who can do fierce battle with werewolves, but lacks the defined jaw line of Josh Brolin. In other words, she can kick your ass, but you won’t exactly mind all that much. This girl exists. And she is somewhere at your gym getting eye-sexed by sweaty men right now! However, that’s as far as most men will get, as she has no interest in meeting people at the gym. Well, men, anyway…
Routine: Forty minutes of ass work-outs to keep perfect ass
Twenty minutes of boob-bouncing cardio
Actively avoid eye-contact with all beings with Y chromosomes
How To Not Be Them: Throw a courtesy smile at the guy who’s not covered in sweat due to calisthenics, but due to intense anxiety over finally making eye contact with you. Maybe even say hello. And if you’re shooting around in the gym, miss a few shots on purpose to make us feel better. We appreciate it.
The Old Man Who Might Be a Cyborg
At first sight you’d suspect this guy’s bones of turning to dust at an attempt to get a modest amount of weight up on the bench press. This guy’s so old he probably recounts to his grandchildren what it was like to crawl out of the ocean using just his fins for the first time. And if that analogy makes no sense, you still get it: Abe Vigoda thought this guy was dead for a long time. He’s frail and fragile and past his experation date… yet he gets that bar up. And what’s more is there is somehow 300 pounds on that bar… Wait, what?! This decrepit old man just put up quadruple his body weight when it looks like he can’t even break down solid food by himself anymore? Then he gets up off the bench and sprints ten miles on the treadmill in his khaki pants, belt, and old man shoes, and he doesn’t break a sweat. There’s something sinister at work here. We suspect if you cross this guy you’ll find he has a vice-like grip, a punch that could kill a donkey, and probably laser eyes. Advice: stay clear, and if he offers you a Nilla Wafer or something accept it graciously and back away, keeping your guard up.
Routine: 100 reps of a million on everything
Get back home in time for Law & Order
How To Not Be Them: Stick to getting exercise the way most grandfathers do: rocking chairs. They can seriously tone your abs if you’re doing it right. And only break out your cyborg strength to open jars of hard candy.
You will know him when you hear him. At first you may suspect some deeply buried government-funded scientific experiment has gone incredibly wrong–the primal sound escaping this person’s mouth could surely not be induced by simple, everyday lifting of weights. This is the sound of a man’s skin suddenly sprouting thick hair and Benicio Del Toro awaking the next morning bloody and wondering what unspeakable acts he has committed. But alas, it’s just a dude with deep-rooted insecurities probably stemming from a loveless childhood that resulted in the powerful need to let the entire gym know just how INTENSE his work-out is. But from the sound of it, his vocal chords are seeing the most intensity. The terrible thing is this is not something you can just tune out or habituate to; every visceral elongated grunt followed by the CLANG of the bar hitting the bench is something your instincts just force you to turn your head to, probably because early in human evolution this exact sound signaled impending death.
Routine: 10 reps of 40 grunts each
Gargle salt water to aid raw and bloody throat due to repeated grunting
Repeat until hoarse
Go home, call father you haven’t spoken to in years, hang up without saying anything
How To Not Be Them: Keep your breathing even for the entirety of a lift. Tape your mouth if you have to. And see a psychiatrist to work out your shit.
The Guy Who Just Walks Around
You’ll be on the treadmill for a half-hour or so and in about ninety second intervals you will see this guy walk by again, still having broken nay a bead of sweat on his forehead. That’s because he hasn’t and has no intention to step on any sort of cardio machine or lift anything beyond a water bottle to his face–which is vastly unnecessary as he is at this point super-hydrated having depleted no fluid whatsoever. In fact, the constant water sipping works to his advantage as it gives him an excuse to A.) take one more piss before hitting the free-weights, and B.) go get a refill from the fountain before he heads to that bikram yoga class. He is the guy from your office who knows just how to look busy enough to not be bothered but in actuality hasn’t done an ounce of verifiable work in over ten years–maybe sometimes he’ll replace the coffee filter. In the gym he is actively avoiding doing anything physical beyond a casual stroll of the premises. When he suddenly goes missing from his routine pass-by, it’s safe to assume he has left or is sneaking in a quick power nap in the locker room.
Routine: Enter. Spend five minutes chatting with the front desk employee about Lost.
Twenty minutes to change into gym clothes – don’t want to pull anything.
Ten minutes to stretch. Another five to stare into wall-sized mirror.
Forty minutes: walk the entire boundaries of the gym. Stop at every fountain to replenish.
Fifteen minutes socializing with people you’d barely call acquaintances and who clearly do not wish to chat with you.
Ten Minutes – cool down period.
Leave. A smoothie would really hit the spot.
How To Not Be Them: Use the machines. Lift the weights. You can walk around doing nothing literally anywhere. You clearly have a motivation problem. Perhaps you and the Overzealous Spotter should have a meeting of minds and come up with how to make the gym work for both of you.
The Hopeless Case
It’s a sad fact: for some people, any amount of exercise will not make an ounce (much less pounds upon pounds) of difference. There‘s something happening outside the gym that is hindering their physical improvement. You can run three miles a day, every day, but if your diet consists of Frosties, chicken fries, and beer, you’re probably not going to be turning any heads at the beach (and if you do it will probably be to look away from you). Unless your metabolism is insanely efficient, like Statham-efficient, a lifestyle of booze, Carl’s Jr., and spin class twice a week is not going to make you look or feel any better. You can spot the Hopeless Case by finding the 250 pound disheveled guy with sweet & sour sauce stains on the one shirt you‘ve ever seen him work out in doing light bicep work. You’ve been seeing him in passing at your gym for the past two years and the guy hasn’t dropped a chin or belt notch since he’s been there. It’s because straight from there he’s searching for the closest Baconator outlet to “reup” on his protein. You’re doing it wrong.
Routine: Stretch. Make sure not too drunk to do this.
Hit the juice bar and get something peanut-buttery.
Cycle for twenty minutes — stop for numerous “breathers”.
Sauna. Hell yeah!
How To Not Be Them: Make dietary rules that you’re going to stick to as long as you’re going to the gym consistently. Be realistic and allow for the occasional unhealthy favorite, but avoid places offering “Dollar Menus” like the plague. And if you are just going to just eat junk, adjust your routine accordingly. You can eat all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos you want, just make sure you’re working them off, and then some.