As someone who spends upwards of 5 hours per day at one of the local fitness facilities I run into all manner of people over the course of my workouts.
Early afternoons tend to bring an elderly, retiree crowd, while the 5-6 power hour fills up like a Tokyo subway train with people getting off work. Later at night you get more of the meat market crowd, with more of the meatheadish (I don’t use that term in a derogatory sense, by the way) crowd that knows better than to go to the gym during peak hours.
And throughout these different phases a particular gym goer appears.
You know him or her quite well.
In fact, when you were a young gym-goer perhaps you exhibited flashes of it.
The gym asshole.
YOUR FREE RANGE PLAN TO BECOMING A GYM ASSHOLE
In a way I hate that I am writing this article…
But after dealing with a series of jackasses at the gym and pool today I felt the need to write this out if not to save a little bit of my sanity.
(It’s natural to fixate on those 1-2 assholes instead of the 9-10 awesome people at the gym. Our brains are hard wired to do so. Still doesn’t mean we should—but it helps explain why it sears us with such a furious rage when someone pulls an asshole maneuver.)
At the end of the day, I will almost always respect someone who makes it down to the gym and makes the decision that the guy sitting on the couch keeps putting off.
A great majority of gym goers are considerate. Don’t use equipment they aren’t familiar with. And are conscientious of the fact that there are other people using the same facility.
But it is always those 1-2 people you see at the gym that leave a brutal impression. That either lack empathy, consideration or the education on gym etiquette. That glow with a sense of entitlement and narcissism that dwarfs any consideration for others.
And off we go down the path of gym assholishness…
Step 1: Take pictures of yourself in the mirror in a change room. Bonus points if you Face Time someone while in the locker room.
I get it—we are a full blown selfie culture.
For some people it’s as standard to their workout as a good playlist. They broadcast their daily gym sesh across social media to let people know that they are “killin’ it” and “grindin’” and living the “fit life.”
That’s fine. (I guess. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.)
But when you ignore the fact that there are people in various stages of undress in the same room as you while you snap shots of your two-pack and veiny bicep then it becomes a serious problem.
And this is a true story—a woman at my gym left the showers, walked around a bank of lockers and saw her naked outline in the cell phone of a young woman who was face timing her boyfriend in the locker room.
So put your phone away while you are in the locker room. Or at least don’t fully invade people’s privacy by using your camera and video where other people are changing.
As for those pictures you are snapping and posting in hopes of crushing the like-o-meter?
Your time at the gym should be for you, a place to Zen out, to get and stay healthy. Not something that you do in the hopes of banging out a bunch of likes.
Do the gym for you.
Step 2: Use equipment that is at a premium for anything but its intended use
This happens so often that it has become a running joke at the main gym I go to. (And to be fair, the situation is similar at every other gym I’ve attended.)
With only two squat racks they are at a premium as it is, but when you throw someone in there who is doing bicep curls, shoulder press, or using the arms on the squat rack for deadlifts or upright rows, than it creates some serious rage.
With signage that explicitly says what the equipment is to be used for, some gym goers will saddle up to it and make it up as they go along.
Here’s a great example:
The best part about this picture?
In the reflection you can see the other squat rack being used by a woman to do standing shoulder presses.
Not sure why I feel the need to justify this kind of ignorance, but in a way I understand that this person just doesn’t know any better. And most people won’t say anything—politely or not—that would discourage them from doing it again next time around.
It’s your responsibility as a gym asshole to know what you are doing (or rather, not know what you are doing) when you step into the gym.
Or even just literally read the instructions on the wall that implicitly explain the rack is to be used primarily for squats.
Step 3: Avoid any general type of consideration by performing a 12-station circuit during peak hours.
Hey, I can understand someone who likes to bang out a good old circuit.
Really, I do.
I like the odd circuit myself.
But at 5:30pm on a Monday night?
With dumbbells strewn across the floor, and a towel on one bench, a water bottle reserving the pec deck, and shooing away anyone who dares approach one of his or her machines, this gym asshole is adept at making a busy gym even busier all on his own.
Bonus points if you can use the squat rack to do standing calf raises.
Step 4: Don’t clean up after yourself.
At the gym (and you know, real life), it’s expected that at a certain age you become an adult and don’t require someone to follow you and nag after you to pick up after yourself.
Wanna be a disgusting slob at home? Ketchup stains on the couch? Body hair all over the bathroom?
Right on—no one is going to stop you.
But at the gym?
Nope. Nope. Nope.
We are all in it together when we are at the gym. We share the space and the equipment. Could you imagine the post-tornado look the weight room would have if everyone just dropped their weights and walked away?
You are not a child.
So stop acting like it and pick up after yourself.
Step 5: Leer at members of the opposite sex and make them feel uncomfortable.
Lookin’ is fine. Leering is not.
Following a woman around from machine to machine and interrupting her workout to tell her that she is pretty is no bueno as well.
Believe it or not, they didn’t put on that tight-fitting workout apparel to please or tease you. And they certainly didn’t put it on as an invitation for you to come disturb their set.
Yes, I understand that the gym asshole is almost certainly unaware of the difference between looking and leering, so bitching about this is probably a bit of a moot point, but it needs to be said.
Step 6: Use your cell phone every chance you get.
Yes, lots of you use your cell phone as a music player. Or to log your workout.
But then there is the lot of you gym assholes who can’t get off the goddamn thing. Between sets, and even for some morons who apparently like to invent their own urban sport—sending out texts while they are lifting (or more amusingly, when running on the treadmill), or walking around with their head down not paying attention to where they are going.
At the end of the day…
If you can text mid-set you are not working hard enough. Not even close.
The gym provides the best possible location to completely unplug from the bullcrap that is happening in the real world. Have you ever been checking your cell phone and not felt more stressed out?
Research has shown time and time again that having your face glued to your phone doesn’t make you feel any better, if anything it just sours your mood and elevates stress levels.
Your angry girlfriend or boyfriend’s text will still be there when you are done. That work email isn’t going anywhere. And that Facebook feed certainly isn’t going anywhere either.
Use the gym as a reprieve from the stress, gossip and work in your life.
Step 7: Ignore all semblance of hygiene.
As mentioned earlier…at least a couple of times…we all share the space.
Wanna smell like a hobo? Cool. Wanna have a hot tub in Calvin Klein One? Sweet. Wanna be a sweaty old mess? Do it up.
Just don’t do it at the gym.
So this means…
Use deodorant. Wanna go all organic and not use any GMO products on your skin? I can get behind this. Just don’t be a stinky gym asshole. That 10 foot green cloud following you around is a not-so-subtle sign that your personal hygiene needs some attention.
Remember the gym isn’t a nightclub. Dousing yourself in heaps of cologne or perfume might give you the illusion that it will help you get some in the club (it won’t), but that fallacy shouldn’t extend itself to the gym. Outside of the fact that some of your fellow gym goers are allergic to the chemical wunder-potion you’ve showered in, to the rest of us you just smell like A Night at the Roxbury.
Wipe up your sweat. I’m no angel when it comes to sweat. I am a greasy dude. There will be puddles of sweat on the bike when I am done with it. As impressive as that might be to me and a select few in the gym, to everyone else it’s disgusting, particularly when they are lining up to use the same machine. So wipe it down when you are done with it.
Basic hygiene 101, kids.
The gym is a communal place where we all get together, regardless of socioeconomic background, regardless of ambitions in the gym or physical condition with the hopes of bettering themselves.
So why not work together to make it an even better place for everyone involved?
Remember the golden rule, kids: Do unto others as you would like done to yourself.
That is, of course unless you like smelling like crap, leaving a mess everywhere, not use equipment properly, and unleashing your creepy machismo all over the place.
In that case, go be a gym asshole somewhere else.