A state of consciousness achieved when a gym-goer loses the ability to maintain socially acceptable behavior.
As a fitness-professional, I have witnessed some extraordinarily strange behavior in the gym. In the ideal professional relationship I offer motivation, technique, and guidance on how to improve fitness and make changes towards realizing an ideal physique. More often than one might think in this relationship, I have been held hostage to witness some of the most unusual absurdities that the best imagination could not manifest. What follows is a concise list of my favorite “gym crazy” recollections. Some are reoccurring themes seen acted out by many gym-goers, while others are priceless stand-alone gems; enjoy.
The following content contains material that may not suitable for younger readers due to the adult-themed nature of some of the recollections; reader discretion is advised.
Annoying to Everyone
- “I am still using that” monopolizes several pieces of equipment at the same time for some epic super-setting; other times they just are being social or reading. In any case, they are taking up valuable real estate in the gym. What is worse is when they deny a request to work-in because it will interfere with their flow. Done with regularity, this person will find their bar stripped of weight, and be regarded as a nuisance by the community.
- The “attention-seeker” does whatever possible to be center stage, under the spotlight, for all to see. They employ a variety of strategies to ensure that the spotlight is always shining on them. You will find then dominating mirror space, overtly dressing (or rather wearing very little), grunting, dropping weights, and epic pre-set ritualistic performances. Whatever they can do to rob the rest of the gym of energy and focus is their primary goal.
- “Is it too late for me to join class?” is a sub category of attention-seeker and has a very effective strategy. If they are permitted to join the class, then they almost always locate themselves as front and center as possible (forcing others to accommodate them), let everyone know what was so important in their lives that they had to be late, and commence taking their sweet-ass time doing it. If they are denied access to class, then they are happy as well because they get the opportunity to create a scene, once again take their sweet-ass time doing it, and then communicate their experience to the rest of the gym population for the duration of their workout. This is more often than not, also the person who will undoubtedly let the instructor know that they are teaching class wrong.
- The “beat of a different drummer” lives to correct the instructor and patrons of the class by giving advice they heard somewhere or saw on the Internet. They also are guilty of going-off routine mid-class to demonstrate their workout savvy ideas and attract more attention.
- Do not think for an instant that the “attention-seeker” (and all of its sub categories for that matter) efforts go unwarranted or without merit; the creeper is lurking somewhere in the back of the class taking it all in. You know who he is.
Pre or Post Workout Fast Food. It all too common to see the crumpled up wrappers and bags of fast-food refuse strew about the passenger seats of vehicles of the parking lot or in the trash bin at the entrance of the gym. I have also witnessed actual clients drive directly from the gym to the drive-thru after a personal training session to get their fix. The defense: “I’m going to work it off” or “I deserve it for working so hard”. They are only fooling themselves and creating more work for the future with these justifications.
Pre-Workout Butts. Praise to all the cigarette smokers who join the gym. Taking action to make themselves healthier by working out is step in right direction, but actually smoking at the gym? Never mind the effects to themselves personally, it is the rest of the gym population that has to endure trail of nicotine that envelops the equipment they use. I once had a client who would even take a smoke-break mid-workout.
Intoxicating Workouts. I am not opposed to anyone kicking back a few and responsibly getting their drink on, however a line in the sand begs to be drawn. Working out is not the additive called for in this mixer. In one instance, my suspicions of drunken training were confirmed when my client flat out went face down in the middle of the gym. Needless to say, that was the end of the workout. In another gym, a member carried nips with him throughout his workout. He would dispose of them in the strangest places. A stakeout ensued where we followed the fresh trail of empties through the gym. They eventually led us to the culprit where we asked him to discontinue the behavior.
Keep it in the Bedroom
Hot tub love. One of my duties as a manager of a health club was to be “manger on duty” (M.O.D.) once a week. The responsibilities included opening/closing the facility and everything in-between. After having cleared the gym at the end of the day, I locked the doors, and headed to the locker rooms to launder the last of the towels and apply chlorine to the hot tubs. I ushered out the remaining stragglers in the men’s room and headed to the ladies. Even though the facility was officially closed, I announced my entrance, as it is always good practice. With no response, I went about my duties of closing lockers and tidying the changing areas. The door to the wet area where the hot tub is located was blanketed with a coating of condensation so I had no warning of what I was about to see. I swung the door open and much to my surprise where two people in the midst of an intimate encounter. I threw my hand in front of my face and apologized that I had not heard a response that there were still people occupying the locker room. Before I could turn away one of the lovers was standing stark naked within handshake distance. They politely informed me that they would leave when they were done. Never one to get in the way of love, I made a hasty exit; not that I had a choice mind you.
Intimate stretching. I had a client that was dissatisfied with the direction her training was going. In fact, she more or less refused to workout at all. The only thing she wanted to do was stretch. Per her request, I put together a routine and we went to it. She still felt that the situation was unsatisfactory. She told me I needed a “more hands on approach”. She explained that her trainers in the past had assisted her in stretching and that it made a great deal difference in her results. She began to guide me through what she intended we do. At first, the assisted stretching was nothing more than helping move her further along into position of the posture. This was accomplished by either giving her someplace to brace her feet, push into her back, or hold her hand. As sessions passed, assisted stretching began to feel less than professional. I started to revert to other tried and true methods of stretching the muscles she was attempting to target, but soon found out that was not what she wanted; not what she wanted at all as a matter of fact.
Haven’t you ever heard of intimate stretching!?!
She angrily asked. Comically bewildered, I replied that I had not. With a hold on me, she laid back into the supine position (back down and face up) and asked/coerced me to put pressure on the back of her legs. This drove her knees towards her shoulders with her feet more or less wrapped around my head. Was this really happening? Frozen in what was essentially a modified missionary position, I listened to a diatribe of the benefits of this type of training and that it was what I should have been doing all along. Needless to say, this was not the professional image I was attempting to portray in the community. That was the last time I visited that client. She was less than pleased and as a result, I was never paid for my last week of work.
Ego: Epic Fails
Hypoglycemia Knock Out. Nutrition is the cornerstone of fitness that will not only facilitate gains in recovery, but also provide the energy required to actually get through the workout. “What have you eaten today?” is the first question I pose to new clients before we get started. Every now and then, a client overlooks the importance of pre-game fuel and ends up getting sucker-punched by a mild case of exercise induced hypoglycemia; otherwise known as low blood sugar. It usually starts with profuse sweating, shakiness, and eventually leads to insurmountable nausea that renders the client useless and disorientated. The magic elixir that brings them out of the fog is a dose of simple sugars (whatever variety of electrolyte/carb drink is available). Though this can happen to anyone who tries to cash checks that their bodies do not have the funds to back, it most often occurs in middle-age men, who are trying to relive past performance accolades for the first time in ten years.
I can lift that. It is a simple fact that you are not going to P.R. every time you go to the gym. At some point you will experience your own version of an epic fail where you are at the mercy of the weights and hopefully the spotter you were not too stubborn to ask for assistance. There is definitely a difference between missing a lift/hitting failure during a set and attempting to hoist a weight that you have absolutely no business lifting whatsoever. It is not only annoying, it is unsafe, not fair to the spotter (if there is one), and sets a bad example for less experienced lifters in the gym. I have seen people get crushed in racks, suffocated on benches, and thrown across the room by cable machines. Intelligently challenge yourself, use a spot, and do your best not to be that guy.
Staring Me Right In The Eyes. First and foremost, I am focused on my clients when I am in the gym. Nevertheless, there are some things that cannot be overlooked; this is one of them. A middle-aged man, who had been a member of the gym for some time, decided to alter his clothing in a strange and disturbing fashion. At first, I thought I was seeing things, but alas I was not. He had cut out nipple holes in all his workout sweatshirts. This was not a big deal when he was leaning forward (the sweatshirts folded and wrinkled so nothing offensive was viewable), however when he stood upright of performed exercises where he pushed his chest out, it was a completely different story. He kept to himself, but his nipples seemed to take great joy in making uncomfortable eyes with anyone in range of their medusa-like stare. On one occasion, a client noticed my pained look mid-session and asked what was wrong. I gestured and she immediately took notice. “I know him from high school; I’ll put a stop to that!” She exclaimed. She engaged him and proceeded a shaming I had seen like no other. She returned to announce, that despite protest, he agreed to no longer oppress the gym population; thank all that is good!
Lewd Calls. Fielding telephone inquiry calls for potential gym members and personal training clients were tasks I regularly had in one stint work. Most of the time the calls are pretty straightforward and result in the making of a future appointment to visit the gym or set up a consultation. In this instance, instead of inquiring about the amenities or schedule the gym had to offer, the caller was more concerned about clothing, his in particular. He voiced genuine concern about what would be appropriate gym wear when working out. At the time, I did not really pay much attention to his inquiries; I suspected he had some body insecurities and wanted to make sure he could dress comfortably covered up and not stick out like a sore thumb. A week passed, he called again, but this time he wanted to talk about particular exercises and if he would be able to perform them in particular outfits. Slightly creeped out, I suggested that he come in to check it out. He refused, but continued to call with increasing frequency. The amount of detail to which he focused his attention on clothing also increased. It went something like…
So I can where sweatpants to the gym? Oh sweatpants are good, right? I’ll be able to do squats and lunges in them right? Do you think people will notice me in my sweatpants? I’ll probably even sweat in them if I work hard enough…
At whit’s end, I gave the offenders details (which he had voluntarily given) to a local cop who was a member of the gym. He quickly rang me back to let me know that the creep had a history of calling every gym in town with the same shtick. He was then warned by the authorities to discontinue calling our facility or face charges of some variety of harassment or communications violation. The creepiest part was that his family was audibly perceptible in the background of every conversation.
Stalkers. It is nice to liked. Hell, it is even nice to even be popular, but a stalker I can do without. Unfortunately, when you are the victim of stalking, you have little choice in the matter. My relationship with my stalker started with a free consultation I give to all serious potential clients. She was an attractive woman in her early twenties. The consultation went well and she booked several more appointments for the future. When I was training other clients, she began to appear out of nowhere with regularity. At first it was nice to see that I had a motivating effect on her fitness training. In time, she was literally at the gym every moment I was. She would engage me while I was with clients, ambush me between appointments, and find me when I was on a break. I also could not workout without finding her in my immediate proximity no matter what I was doing or where I went. She was friendly with some the girls that worked in the gym and coerced them to try to get me to go out socially with them (and her). I was engaged (to my now wife) and had no desire or business going out “clubbing”. I declined the offer and she got very angry. She stopped showing up at the gym and I thought it was over until one evening when I was closing the gym. I locked up per usual and made my way to my car that was located on the edge of the parking lot along the wood-line. I beeped the alarm off, unlocked the doors, and proceeded to throw my gym bag in the back seat when I heard a voice that literally made me crawl out of my skin.
Where do you think you’re going?
My stalker emerged from the shrubberies and tried to convince me to go out with her. She begged, pleaded, and then started to get angry. With her agitation peaking to what I surmised was an imminent physical attack of some sort I circled my car and plotted an escape. I found enough time and space to get in, start the engine, and drive away. I never saw her again, but I did receive a number of telephone hang-ups at work for the next month or so. It was quite a while before I stopped looking over my shoulder anywhere in the vicinity of that gym.
Not Fooling Anyone
I am not on gear! If you put on 20 pounds and add 50 pounds to your bench over the course of 4-8 weeks, then you are not fooling anyone; it is the result of steroids. Almost no user will divulge their status unless you are connected to their inner circle or have a relationship with the person they bought them from. I personally do not care if a person uses or not, but it sets an unrealistic (and potentially life threatening) precedence for other lifters to aspire towards. I understand in respect to the fact that it is illegal, but come on! I used to work with a guy who was 5’6″, 270 pounds, and ripped. He was constantly on a regimen that included several different testosterones, growth hormone, and insulin. His response when asked what his routine was by gym goers was “I train hard”. The short of it is, if someone goes from meager mouse to rampaging gorilla in a short span of time, then they are more likely than not, on gear.
Fontal Lobe Deterioration
Old Person Racism. Anyone who has spent time with a person in their later years will attest to fact that to some degree, they lose some of their social filter. Simply put, they say what is on their minds, often with prejudice. In this instance, I was working with a very well to do elderly woman who did just that. Pedaling away on the recumbent bicycle, in the middle of the packed cardio-room of the gym, a news story appeared that she disagreed with. Initially she made a bellowing moan. The moaning was then accompanied by a facial expression that can only be described as disgust. Concerned for her wellbeing, I asked what was wrong. She replied,
Those people…you can almost smell them through the television.
It was like nails on a chalkboard. Cringing, I looked around to see all within earshot express similar sentiments. “We are done”, I said and quickly ushered her out of the building before she could remark further. Upset that the workout ended early and unable (unwilling) to comprehend the severity of the wrongness of her vocalization, she tried to run me over (and would have, had I jumped a split second later) in the parking lot with her car. Upon settling her account over the phone, she apologized for trying to run me over, but not for the racism.
Nudity, Balls, and Powder. I have been employed in gyms and health clubs consistently since 1988 and to date, have not been able to figure this one out, but will do my best. Old men love being naked. Half of them do not even workout; they come to the gym for a coffee social and then go to the lockers and get naked. After a shower, it seems that the preferred method of expelling the left over water on ones body is to air-dry; a process that apparently takes no less than one full hour. As a result, I am not sure there is any real reason they possess a towel at all, except to dry their faces after a shave. One can only assume that the ravages of time and gravity on the boys creates more surface area that may be susceptible to chaffing; hence the baby powder. Plumes of powder waft from all directions like miniature atom bombs. Residue accumulates everywhere. Condensation from the steam of the showers transforms the powder residue into a cake-like substance you could build adobes with. As they leave the locker room after getting dressed, plumes of powder explode out of pant-legs leaving a trail of white footprints in the direction of the gym exit. Even though it makes no sense to me now, if the sheer number of older men that partake in this practice is any indication to the legitimacy of the need for this ritual, then perhaps I ought to start collecting coupons for baby powder.
What is your story?
Have you witnessed some “gym crazy” where you workout? Are you the perpetrator of “socially unacceptable behavior” in the gym? Feel free to share some of the moments you have witnessed (or are responsible for) in the comments section. I hope you enjoyed. Until next time, remain sane and be well!
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