In this post we take a look at the top 10 worst gym personalities, as a means to help you clearly identify and classify inappropriate gym behavior, and to help you steer clear from inadvertently falling into one of these categories as you embark on your fitness journey.
In no particular order, here is a list of the most annoying gym goers that I have personally come across over the years. Many workouts have been ruined on their account, so please allow me to vent my pent up frustrations in the cathartic swell below.
1. The American Idol: It is increasingly popular that gym goers do their workouts while listening to their iPods. While I personally prefer not to, I have absolutely no problem with it. Many people swear that their music helps them get in the zone and increase the intensity of their workouts while reducing the perception of effort. All this is copacetic. The problem arises when people confuse the gym with a Karaoke bar. The American Idol has somehow arrived at the completely delusional conclusion that their tone-deaf interpretation of Thin Lizzy's "Boys are Back in Town" should be applauded by their fellow exercisers.
Hint: Stop It! When you get dirty looks from EVERYONE around you, it may be time to step off the stage and re-enter the reality of a gym.
2. The Boneparte: Many guys who enter the gym for the first time, particularly those of a slight or ectomorphic build, become intimidated by their perceived physical inferiority to the more established gym goers. As we all had to start from somewhere, we've all been there. The issue with The Bonepartes, is that they respond to their perceived inferiority by severe and often dangerous overcompensation. They put more weight on the squat bar than they should, and inevitably end up on the ground, trapped underneath the weight of their stupidity. I can't tell you how many guys I have rescued from choking themselves out with a barbell while doing benchpress and not knowing their limits.
Hint: If you need your friend to hand you the weights because you can't actually lift them yourself, it's probably a good indication you should be using less weight. Also, if the only way you can squeeze out a single rep of a given exercise (albeit with atrocious form) is with your workout partner lifting 80% of the load - time to downsize Napoleon! If ridicule is your fear, you will attract much more of it by dropping a dumbbell on your head than doing an exercise properly with lighter weight.
3. The Kanye West: Given that the gym attracts those individuals who are concerned about their health and appearance, it is expected that you could bump into a few egomaniacs along the way. How can you spot the Kanye West at your gym? Easy - look for the mirrors! The Kanye's will be found mesmerized by their own reflection as they perform any of the following: roll up their sleeves and flex their biceps, run their hands through their hair, nonchalantly lift their shirts to flex their abs. You may find engaging in conversation with a Kanye West a tad difficult as they will often talk (usually unengaged) to you while continuing to stare at themselves in the mirror.
Hint: Experts agree that the proportion of time at the gym spent posing in front of a mirror is negatively associated with any fitness gains, but positively related (R2 = 0.98) with being ridiculed and looking like a moron.
4. The Perez Hilton: While both genders can be equally guilty of being a Perez Hilton at the gym, most recently I've noticed a huge surge in the number of females who congregate on exercise mats simply to chat and gossip. Every once in a while they may stretch an arm or leg, but for the most part, their mouth is getting the majority of the workout.
Hint: Sitting on an exercise mat for over an hour while doing nothing other than chatting is not actually working out. Given the gym is for actually doing something, and space is limited, please just go to a coffee shop and do your gossiping there. And think - you won't even have to change into gym clothes for that purpose!
5. The Screamer: Competing for airwave domination with the American Idol is the always present gym Screamer. Although most people think that only hardcore weight lifters scream because they are lifting tons of weight, this is a common misconception. In fact, screamers come in all shapes and sizes. Oddly enough though, they are almost always males. My take on screaming is the following: when a 100lb girl is squatting more weight than you in the next rack over, and is doing so silently, there is no reason for you to be grunting like a rabid boar.
Hint: Breathe regularly during each exercise. Grunting and yelling when bench-pressing the 45lb bar is completely unnecessary, and in fact can pose a safety hazard for those around you who may actually be lifting a relatively heavy load and are trying to concentrate.
6. The Backstage Ass: The Backstage Ass is a relatively new species of gym goer that I only came across recently. This individual is so hardcore that even after they worked out in the appropriate gym space, they just haven't gotten enough. The obvious solution? Exercise in the change room! That's right, nothing says you are an intense exerciser more than a set of pushups amongst other naked men.
Hint: Next time you're in the locker room feeling like you aren't quite finished, just make your way back to the gym and finish up there. You can just wear a bandana to let everyone know how intense you are.
7. The Chris Benoit: The Benoits are a staple of most weight rooms, although they will never be spotted near any cardio equipment. The Benoits, also known as juice monkeys, all have this in common: obvious abuse of steroids and associated extreme anger and hostility. In other words, the Benoits exhibit the obvious signs of Roid Rage. They often grunt and scream, like the Screamers above, but more often than not they yell obscenities. Then can be found standing near their workout area simply swearing for no reason. They often find it necessary to throw their dumbbells around, and make as much noise and disruption as possible. Another sure sign of a Chris Benoit are the following: severe acne, gynecomastia (breast development) and testicular atrophy. Despite their athrophied testes, be warned, however, you should not approach their vicinity as mere eye contact may be enough to set these Neanderthals off.
Hint: For the sake of your health, it may be a good idea to drop the juice. For the sake of social integration, drop the bully attitude you perfected in grade school.
8. The Uninvited Expert: "Hey, did you know that if you turn your feet 5 degrees outwardly you can really fire up the glutes when doing that squat." "You should really try clenching your butt when doing bench-press - it really helps develop your core." "Acai berry supplements get you really jacked, you should try it. Rachael Ray even endorses it!" These are just a few examples of the misinformation many Uninvited Experts feel necessary to tell you while you are working out. In many situations, the Uninvited Experts are actually staff members at the gym you are attending. Be careful with advice that spills out of these "experts"; despite their confidence in their own knowledge, a weekend course and a subscription to Men's Health rarely provides one with adequate understanding of exercise physiology.
Hint: Unless asked for advice, please keep it to yourself.
9. The Rico Suave: The Rico Suaves are a huge aggravator for many female gym goers. Rather than working out, the Rico Suave lurks silently until he finds his pray: a female. In a flash, he pounces and drops any of the following on an unsuspecting female victim: "Hey, do you need a spot?", "So, you like working out, eh?", "Do you mind if I do my bicep curls (and grunt) directly in front of you despite the fact there is plenty of space elsewhere?", "You want to get a protein shake after this?"
Hint: The large majority of females at the gym are there for one purpose: to get a workout, clear their head and de-stress. Unless the female you are attempting to woo is a Bar Star (see below), let her exercise in peace and save your pickup lines (and the inevitable rejections) for the bar that night.
10. The Bar Star: The female equivalent of the Rico Suave. Tube top, hoop earrings, a pound of make-up, and not a bead of sweat - the defining features of the Bar Star. Much like Rico above, the Bar Star frequents a gym not for any fitness purpose, but to find a suitable mate. If I had my way, each gym would actually have a designated room where the Ricos and the Bar Stars could aggregate. The room would be void of any actual equipment, since equipment is only ever used by these individuals as a prop for their posing or as camouflage for their lurking.
Hint: If you really want to pick up a guy while at the gym, at the very least stay clear of the equipment that the rest of us actually want to use. Hanging out by the water fountain may be a great alternative - you can even spray yourself with some water to make it look like you actually did something!
Wow - this was a long post, and a very cathartic one at that! Which one of these gym personalities irritates you the most? Did I overlook an obvious gym personality? Let me know in the comments section below - I'd love to hear what type of nonsense the rest of you have come across.
Note: This post originally appeared on January 27, 2010 on www.obesitypanacea.com.
The Silence of The Lambs
This guy came to the gym for some peace and quiet, and damned if he isn't going to get it! Clanking of plates? Chattering of undergrads? Fire alarm tests? Nope, he is stressed about people grunting when they lift weights. Who cares if it helps you get the weight up or avoid an undesired Valsalva manoeuvre? He's working out so hard that the slightest noise could kill him. This kind of behaviour is, of course, perfectly sensible and reasonable.
The Offense Master
He's lifted a few weights, and yeah, he's pretty sure he's got the whole thing down. Squats to at LEAST three inches below shoulder level, and always makes sure never to bench below the level of the rack pins (because it's dangerous). Got a nice curve in the back going for deadlifts too, for added strength. And then some jackass comes and gives him some advice - without him even asking for it! A few snide comments later, and he's back to bobbing that 200kg squat a few centimeters up and down again, secure in his expert knowledge.
The Guy Who Curls In The Squat Rack
What do you call the guy who is basically supersetting using every single piece of equipment that works a muscle group and who won't let you work in anywhere? (piggie?)
These all sound way too familiar.
I have personally observed 7 of these types just while using the elliptical trainer at my local Y. That's without even going into the main weight room, which I never enter, because it is such a Manly Man's Manful D00dly Man Preserve. I would like to add that there is no age limit on any of these types, at least not if your gym is a Y, in my experience.
@Christina Pikas - With those types, and I've personally encountered many, I simply proceeed to use what they percieve to be "their equipment". My feeling is that if equipment isn't being used currently, it is available to be used by others. I always allow people to share anything I am using in between my sets. Having said that, there are a select few who want to fight you for using a dumbbell they left on the floor 10 minutes ago because they're "still using that, dude."
@Zuska - Most of my recent experiences are from the local university gym, which caters mainly to undergrad students, along with a few profs. Good to hear irritating gym etiquette is not exclusive to university gyms. And yes, the weights room is usually host to the most obnoxious gym personalities. This is unfortunate as it scares many, especially women, from doing any resistance training.
Oh indeed. Like Zuska, I have also crossed 7 of the 10 off of my life-list in the gym-goer's field guide.
And yes, in my experience, the weight room sports a higher density of many of them.
May I be so bold as to add a new entry to your list?
The glowering juvenile male who is obviously cheesed off that there is *gasp!!* a lady over here in HIS power cage. The horrors!
He is unsure whether this is an affront to his territory, or some kind of mating ritual to which he has not yet been initiated. Because...LADY! But also...OLD!! (I'm nearly 30 - ZOMG ancient - and I work out at the university gym that is populated by more academic than athletic undergrads.) And furthermore...IN HIS CAGE!!
Shit! What is he supposed to do about this lady in his power cage. He is not sure, and he is intimidated by her age and muscles. He works up the nerve to approach her...then gets scared. He is embarrassed about being scared, so resorts to glowering at her while she finishes her set. She ignores him.
Is this merely a juvenile stage of one of the above? Or a new species??
There's the highschool macho boy who's escorted by his girlfriend to every station in the gym. She stands there, admiring her man as he does his reps. She usually disrupts other users's use of the equipment, since she stands in the way of that equipment's moving parts.
One other personality that can annoy me is the female who leasurely walks on the treadmill, takes a gulp of water every two steps, wipe an invisible sweat with her towel every minute or so and then step down, leaving her towel and water bottle on the treadmill, disappears for 30 min, while other users are await for their turn on the treadmill, and then she raises hell if someone dare using it when she "only left it for a minute".
Related to #4: A couple of guys that frequent my gym will take over one piece of weight equipment for 15 minutes or longer. I have a limited amount of time at the gym in the morning, so this drives me nuts, especially when I need to use that particular equipment before leaving. And when I ask if I can work in, they explain they're already rotating. I know you need a break in between reps, but I frequently watch these machines sit unused for 2-3 minutes with an ass in it, and there are two of them. If you're talking more than lifting, get out of my way!
I've got another one for ya:
11. The Chatty Cathy
This one can be male or female (but why is it mostly women and WHY are they so loud?!). I came here to work out, thank you very much, not listen to your stupid conversation. Cell phones were banned on workout equipment at my last gym and I've never understood why there had to be a rule about it. Well now I do. Until our gym passes a rule against blabbing away on your cell phone while using the cardio equipment ("Oh, I'm just working out. What are you doing? No way! Did I tell you what Cindy said?!") I'll have to make do with throat clearing, snide stares, and harumphing. And don't even get me started about someone sitting on weight equipment and texting.
Hint: shut up! If that conversation is, like, sooooooo important, get off the equipment, find someplace where people aren't actually trying to do something, and talk.
@ ambivalent academic - Personally, I have tremendous respect for women who workout in the weight room, despite usually being the only female there and having to deal with either getting gawked at or asked out on dates. This is particularly awesome when the female does a hard workout using more weight than many of the male onlookers. Another bonus of females in the weightroom - they generally are much less vocal, much friendlier, and clean up after themselves. I wish the weightroom wasn't such an intimidating environment. Over the past year, I have gotten my partner (who, like most females, prefers to do cardio exclusively) to join me to do some weights, and she has loved it. To be honest, she may be the most motivating exercise partner I've ever had - she regularly kicks my butt.
@ geezerjock - That is priceless! I've never encountered that personally, but is sure sounds hilarious/obnoxious:)
@Amy - Totally agree! Phones should not be allowed in the gym. Yesterday I witnessed a girl laying on an exercise mat, back on the ground, arms in the air, in front of her face, holding her iPhone and texting - why are you here!?!?!
Glad to see other have the same issues!
Thanks Peter. Love your blog.
I am not yet that woman who is outlifting the men, but I will get there. I only started lifting seriously in January. I sort of dabbled before but didn't really stick with it, because yeah, you get the distinct impression that YOU ARE NOT WELCOME.
I started working out with another female friend (strength in numbers!), found stumptuous.com (girls can lift like boys!) and I'm a convert.
I love lifting and I love the fact that the guys who are regulars have started to concede a little territory now that I'm there as often as they are.
I was previously lifting occasionally with another female friend, who most definitely does outlift the guys. Once it became clear that she really didn't need their advice they resorted to disparaging her. Too mannish, she's going to get big muscles, and that's gross. It was pretty nasty.
Thankfully, at the university gym I am clearly a bit older than most of the weightroom regulars so they aren't so keen on disparaging someone who may be their instructor next semester. At least not to my face.
So yay for women in the weight room!! And yay for encouraging your partner to do it! I would love to see more of us there.
I'm going to vent too.
The most annoying for me by far has been TA Guy. Despite having a treadmill at home I sometimes go to Talisman in the winter to have a change of scene and to do a few weights after a run. When I run, it's running - not jogging. Several times I've encountered a guy who walks about 2km an hour and reads or marks papers while he's doing it - on looseleaf.
Once in particular I had the massive fan they have there pointed down the bank of treadmills so that myself and the other people who were there previously could have some cool air - it's usually far too hot in there. Well, TA Guy walks in with a stack of papers and proceeds to turn the fan away from the treadmills and hop on one of them to read and walk. Never said anything to me. So, I waited until I got hot and then walked over and turned the fan back on myself. His papers, naturally, make like Hollywood and scatter very effectively. So, he goes and turns the fan away again and pronounces that what I did was 'very dangerous'. I turned it back again, had words, and it stayed that way.
Amy - totally agree. At our gym, it's 50-50 male/female, tho.
the one i can't stand (besides the "gym yoda" (#8 Uninvited expert)) is the "curl monkey". Doing curls in the squat/power rack. it's not for curling. you don't need that to get functional peaks on your gunzors.
or the ones that don't pay attention and bump into people who are squatting - that's dangerous
how about, "not re-racking weights and bars" types
some amusing types encountered:
He jogs at a respectable-looking clip, pretty cool, so far. Then he puts his feet outside the band - standing while the band continues to spin along nicely. then he'd turn up the speed (unverified, but another gym goer claims he'd go from 6.7 mph and jack it up to 9 and stand there and rest for a minute!)
then there's the "competitive guy" who looks at what weight people do, and adjust up (regardless of ability to lift) or the one who adjusts the pin on the machine to a higher weight after he's done with the exercise :)
Awesome gym types:
a couple works out together. the Oly/"big lifts". really nice people. He's maybe 165. She's 130. She squats and deads > 150% BW. a guy asked them for help on his dead form - she was lifting a bunch more than what he could do - they're so nice, that he felt comfortable talking to her about it (when she was pulling maybe 40lbs more).
@Peter - You said you've encountered most of these types in your local university gym.I've been going to my university gym for half a year now, and I must say I don't think I've seen any like that.. Maybe it's my indifferent and optimist personality, but my experience is that everyone there is really interested in doing what they came to do, and are very friendly about it. No unnecessary noises or other annoyances...
The only bad experiences I can think of, were when 2 idiots got into a LOUD argument over who was using a machine, which I found incredibly idiotic, and one time when someone took up the machine I wanted for nearly 20 minutes, when he just talked on the phone for the whole interval and didn't do a single set...
Other than those, I'm happy to say I've seen no other annoying personalities... This is Tel Aviv University btw...
@9 ambivalent academic
I have the luxury of being married to a female powerlifter, one who's deadlifted 185kg and benched 91kg in the 75kg class.
It's quite hilarious to see how the tables turn when a woman shows up that can literally lift more than most of the male members. We get quite a few laughs at the fellas, but especially the ones that feel they have to show off by loading up more weight than she's using and subsequently using the worst form imaginable.
The gym is a funny place.
Just found your blog and LOVE it. I feel you on the following line from #8:
Be careful with advice that spills out of these "experts"; despite their confidence in their own knowledge, a weekend course and a subscription to Men's Health rarely provides one with adequate understanding of exercise physiology.
Though I have never assisted a spot, I've seen 9 of these in real life back when I was a gym regular. The only personality I haven't encountered was the half naked guy doing pushups in the locker room.. since I'm female, my presence in locker rooms other than my own would be frowned upon by the staff.
This struck a chord with me! I have a few of these in my gym. I'm one of the few women who likes to use the weights and has a weights routine. I get guys stuck between the Napoleons and the Benoits. I don't use the "big" weights because I'm building my strength and I hate when I finish a set just to have a Napoleon go and do the same exercise, Tsk about the smaller weights and then rack up a heavier amount just to grunt out five reps then go eat a banana in the hallway. It's as if they're trying to show me up even though I'm obviously not a threat (I bench 30kgs for goodness sake). Way to go, you're the Man. Now wipe your sweat off the bench, minger and clear your weights. I'm not your keeper. Grr! I don't like arrogant gym people.
I do love my iPod for my workouts, but I only sing out loud when I get the gym all to myself. I find the music's BPM motivates me to keep pace during cardio.
@james - I've seen many versions of the "TA guy" - sometimes they are students trying to do some studying while on a bike or eliptical; sometimes they are other folks reading thick novels while half-heartedly pedaling on a recumbent bike. I am of two minds here. On the one hand, they are a bit of a nuisance as they are taking up equipment for extended periods of time and not really using them to much effect. On the other hand, they are doing something while performing tasks which would usually be met with complete inactivity - so I have to commend them on that. I think such individuals could seriously benefit from a treadmill desk.
@Oded - I get the impression the gym and fitness have taken on a whole different meaning in North America versus the rest of the world. It is so much more about appearances, and social desirability of being "active" - it is more important for many to put on expensive gym clothes, flash around their new MP3 player, and grunt out a few random exercises while simply being seen at the gym. That is the trend I have noticed over the past 10 years of attending university gyms. Fitness and health now seem like an afterthought. BTW - I was in Tel Aviv 2 years ago - what a beautiful city. My partner and I really enjoyed it.
Our local gym has a sauna that I sometimes use. I've noticed that some people treat it as a "drying room" to lay out their wet towels, sweaty gym gear and lightly soiled undergarments. Ewwww.
Prior to moving to another state I had a workout partner who was incredibly strong. She was a size zero, no matter how much weight she lifted or calories she consumed daily in attempts to gain weight.
She could do the most beautiful pull ups with her arms extended wide, and an additional 40lbs/18kg strapped to her waist. She would complete three sets of ten reps moving slowly enough you could watch the muscles in her back move like two gears. Men would stop what they were doing to simply stare at her back and the show of strength that was completely unexpected.
It was always amusing to watch the high school students on the various sports teams working out. The males invariably would do their pull ups with as much speed as they possibly could, thinking that was a way to impress the females. How little they knew.
LOVED your answer and you couldn't have said it better. At one of the gyms I used to frequent I had a Rico Suave turn into Stalker Suave after I made the mistake of being polite while in the middle of my cardio routine. The sad thing was that my boyfriend worked out at the same gym and this guy KNEW that and SAW us come in together every time he saw me!! Stalker Suave developed a Boneparte streak and ended up getting removed from the gym for harassment (waiting in the parking lot for my normal workout time.. the BF had a talk with him that time). After a month they let him back in and he started the same routine with one of my friends.
Tips on how to avoid these guys and how to prevent encouraging them would be a much appreciated post :)
"And yes, the weights room is usually host to the most obnoxious gym personalities. This is unfortunate as it scares many, especially women, from doing any resistance training."
I find that the best way to deal with this is to a) know what you're doing (teh interwebs is good for this); b) ignore undesirables, especially when actually lifting; and c) develop a convincing look of amused contempt for deployment when interrupted. Probably works best for wimmen.
I use the local community gym, and we've got annother type there: The Self-Delusional Expert
He's the guy with the pot belly who comes in with his 24oz. Monster Energy Drink and name-brand workout clothes, and proceeds to make a Very Big Deal of the workout he is doing. He goes from station to station, adjusting weights, adjusting benches, moving things to get them 'just so', then proceeds to do one set of very few reps at that station before moving to the next. Usually also takes a fair amount of time between each set to walk around, wipe the 'sweat' off his face, check the mirrors, etc. A good indication of this type is when they take a bunch of time to set up an elaborate lift which anyone with even a base level of lifting knowledge knows is wrong.
True story about one of these guys: I was on the eliptical doing a basic run, and I watched this guy set up a lift on one of the squat racks. He changed the weights on the rack 3 times, and moved one of the benches under it so that he could use the bench's stand as a way to prop up his heels (yeah, doing squats on his tip-toes). He did 1 set of 10 reps like this, as fast as he could crank them out. Overall he took more than 20 minutes to do 10 squats.
''despite their confidence in their own knowledge, a weekend course and a subscription to Men's Health rarely provides one with adequate understanding of exercise physiology.''
I have two more types (one I mentioned on the old blog):
The Owl: OMG. There's a GIRL. She's OVER THERE. She's WORKING OUT. I can see...HER LEGS...
Eyes like an owl. These people routinely force me to the women's only rooms even after I try to stare them down.
The Cool Cucumber: Usually it's a she, but sometimes it's not. She's on the exercise bike or elliptical, going at about the pace of a slow walk. She is impeccably attired and never ever bothers to break a sweat. Honey, scoot. Some of us want to get a WORKOUT in.
I find working out first thing in the morning helps me avoid a lot of the above - usually I can't get out of bed in time tho :-/.
Male Perez Hilton's abound in central London gyms, dominated as they are by gay muscleboys - which leaves one intimidated in terms of both physique and fashion.
One that gets under my skin - the guy who is constantly dropping the free weights on the ground, in spite of the big signs that say "PLEASE DO NOT DROP WEIGHTS". (I suppose they are a special subset of the Bonaparte, since they should be able to set the weights down after doing appropriate reps) Even if you don't consider the fact that I attend a two-level gym, with the weight area upstairs, there is also the fact that the jerk is driving up everyone's rates when they damage the equipment.
size - actually no - for some lifts, you do have to set down that way. The person should heed the sign, but it's not necessarily for the bonaparte type.
Maybe - the blind, illiterate doofus :)
(Some Oly lifts, for instance)
I lifted at a community gym for a while and it had little supervision so people could pretty much do what they like. At that gym I came across The Innovator.
He placed one end of an Olympic bar in a corner of the only power rack in the gym. Then placed the handle of the heaviest dumbbell above that end of the Olympic bar and in so doing created a crude t-bar-like rowing machine.
Had he done it in a corner of the room it would have been fine, but the power rack was the only place a person could do squats in that gym.
Oh boy - got another one.
The "personal trainer" that some gym patrons pay extra money for, who feels justified in having his clients hog all the equipment.
Now, I understand that the PT is a gym employee and is within his rights to tell gym patrons what's what. I understand that the PT's clients are paying top dollar for that hour and they want to get the most out of their time.
But when I politely inquire of the guy in the squat cage doing rapid-fire push-ups, followed by hopping up and down like a kangaroo, followed by pull-up on the squat cage frame, lather, rinse, repeat, for about 20 minutes, whether he is *ahem* going to actually *do squats* in the cage, and if not, may I please use it for such, I get told off by his PT. "My client is doing [insert nonsense term] repeats. He will be done in 10 minutes. You may use the squat cage when he is finished."
Dude he can do his sit-ups and push-ups and kangaroo hops on the exercise mats, and there are a bazillion other *actual* pull up bars all over this gym that are NOT preventing other people from using the equipment for its intended purpose.
You may be a gym employee, and these folks may pay you good $$ but you're still using communal equipment and rules of good etiquette still apply.
Orac posted a link to a humor website on another topic, where I found An Open Letter to the Guy at My Gym Who Screams When He Lifts Weights.
From the post and the comments it seems that gyms are every bit as unpleasant as my memories of being told that my being on a particular team was unfair (and when I complained about being required to play even though no one wanted me on their team, being beat up for 'making everyone else look bad'). It would be nice if it was possible to do intentional exercise without having to put up with all this dehumanizing crap, but apparently it isn't possible. So I'll stick to odd behaviors like walking everywhere and taking the stairs when there is an elevator available.
I actually love my gym, and many of its inhabitants.
I go to the local Y. Yes, we have the usual assortment of these folks, but - maybe it's because I specifically choose inconvenient times when little kiddies are at school or partying - I never have a bad time. People are relatively courteous, relatively welcoming, and relatively thoughtful. I tend to go either before 9AM, from noon to three, or from eight or nine until closing. Saturdays and sundays being the best evenings, and mondays being the best mornings.
The freeweights are somewhat intimidating due to being a hub for roid jocks, but I don't think it's as intimidating as some places. Everyone's always courteous. I know I've got the whole male privelege thing going on, but given the high proportion of females on the weights (outside of peak teenager hours), sometimes approaching 50%, I suspect it's not just in my mind.
I think it's partly because it's such a popular community gym, it's not uncommon to run into a relative, friend of a parent, coworker, etc. No one wants to be a douche when their dad is in the next room. (Maybe this is just my bias, though, since when my nieces got old enough and started using the place and they ran into a bit of an issue they just pulled me off the elliptical to straighten out the rude fellas.)
I haven't stepped foot in a gym in over 3 years, precisely to avoid these people. I do my daily workout in my living room. Ahhh, the miracle of DVD!
Before a drunk driver used my body as a side walk stopping device; I loved working out in a gym and would always get my moneys worth where ever I belonged.
Please consider doing an article about the bad policies some gyms practice:
Continuing to sell memberships long after the physical space in the gym can support it. I guess gym management counts on people not using the facility after a few sore muscles, however, the resolve that happens every January; "I'm going to start going to the gym again", leads to (often dangerous)overcrowding.
Failing to monitor employees. Immature gym staff only paying attention to those clients whom they would like to 'make the beast with two backs' with while other members requests go unanswered.
As for irritating gym types, I was forever trying to avoid the person who thought he was MY GOOD BUDDY. The one who mistakes politeness for interest in his life story down to fine detail. Allowing yourself to be dragged into talking with, or rather listening to, My Good Buddy, results in muscles growing cold and shortening, a great setup for injury.
My university gym, while rife with these types, is a million times better than the previous gym I looked at. It was, frankly, a meat market. When the *men* are putting on makeup in the locker room, and the most popular stair-steppers face out onto the street (individually framed), you know it's bad.
I would like to add another type, The Faucet: Works out on the cardio equipment to the physical limits of the machine, with a spreading puddle around said machine. I had one of these using a treadmill so hard i thought the band would give out, and the floor was wet at least an arm-span on either side. I couldn't decide if it was plain water or sweat, but it was pretty disgusting.
I don't know if you have ever seen The Love Birds in the weight room. It's the couple who works out at the same gym, and between exercises, kiss and hold hands and sit on the benches and talk and kiss again. Then, another exercise and some more public demonstration of affect. Usually they are innofensive, but it feels weird seeing people making out in a place where they should be working out.
This is why I don't go to a gym. I am fearful of everyone sitting around being disgusted by my habits and making blog posts about it.
Haha, great article. I have to disagree about #8 though. Some of them might be blowing smoke, but 95% of the advice that I receive from these guys is good stuff.
I can't stand the people who leave the weights on the squat and bench bars after they are done, especially in a busy gym. You never know if someone is still using the thing. That and sweaty people who don't wipe their machines down. Probably the same people come to think of it.
i wrote a very similar post on my blog a while back. it's amazing how all gyms seem to have such characteristic personalities. though i am a recent goer, my brother has been a regular for about a decade and he still comes across the same types of people, no matter how many times he changes his gym! excellent read!