The Field Guide to New York Gyms

Nearly every day for the past four weeks, I've been going to the gym. Even on days like yesterday, where I probably sweat more just walking to the gym than I actually do inside the gym, I will go.

While I go at nearly the same time every day, I'm in my own little iPod-induced, magazine-reading bubble for most of my workout. So I rarely, if ever, recognize people who work out with me on a regular basis. In fact, the only person I've recognized at my gym wasn't a regular, but rather Judah Friedlander. He's kind of hard to miss. And yes, he works out with his trucker hat and glasses.

I don't notice the same people day after day, but I do notice the same types of people. So I present to you a Field Guide to fellow gym-goers:

The Equipment Hogs: You will forever hover around a piece of equipment that these creatures refuse to give up. They are determined to complete their 10 reps without any interruption. Unfamiliar with the terms "work-in," they will sometimes mistake your impatience for affection, and therefore suffer constant disappointment.

The 30-Minute Rule Breakers: Similar to equipment hogs, these peak-hour visitors are best known for their cardio addiction. Unlike the equipment hogs, they are fully aware of their blatant violation of rules, and will direct a "death stare" as a defense mechanism toward any gym patron eager to point out their rule-breaking.

The Spectators: They stand around more than they actually work out. You can never be sure if they're taking in the scenery, or just consider standing part of their workout routines. When they do seek out equipment, they spend as little time on it as possible, or are completely dumbfounded by how it works.

The Business Casual Lifters: Often found immediately after work hours (although I've seen one on a Sunday afternoon), these creatures inhabit the free weights in button-down shirts and slacks. Their busy lives inhibit them from changing into gym clothes. Pssh, running shorts are for losers.

The Male Ellipticalists: Appearing to be outside their natural environment, these rare creatures inhabit the elliptical machines, apparently more concerned about hard thighs and buttocks than big muscles. In most cases, they are overweight, gay, or both.

The Geriatric Cruisers: Older but still in halfway decent shape, these seniors will parade around the locker room without clothing, hoping to prey on men half their age. They have little to no success. Their mating rituals generally involve the sauna and steam room, so a safe distance should be kept when they enter these areas.

The Nudist Colonialists: Apparently not keen on decorum, these creatures seek the establishment of a nudist colony within the locker room. While they defy clothing, they do not always defy footwear - some wearing socks and high-top sneakers. They are often rotund, and have no regard for their fully-dressed collegaues.

This, of course, is a male-oriented version of the list. Your experience may differ. Beware of these creatures, but please... respect their habitat.

8 Moments of Idiocy:

Anonymous Joy said...

Barbody - The most common gym lurker. As the name implies, this guy works on muscles to show off at the bar, with purpose of impressing chicks or intimidating pencil necks. Usually, it's a young guy between 15-25 years old, who's at the gym working on every upper body muscle he can see from the front. The routine consists of endless curls, bench presses, pushdowns and seated presses. Once in a while you see him throw in a few lat pull downs and crunches just for fun.

Chat Boy - This type of guy is rare, but you don't want to run into him. Chat boy wants to discuss lifting, eating, or life in general with you, often in great detail. Now, I have nothing against conversation, especially workout talk, but chat boy doesn't know when to stop and turns a one-hour workout into two.

The Sharp Dressed Man - Believe me, not every girl is going crazy for this guy. I've seen him many times, and I still don't get it. His lifting attire: t-shirt, dress pants, and loafers. I mean frigging loafers? One workout I could understand, but nobody forgets their gym bag everyday.

Stanky - Stanky, for lack of a better term, stank. It wasn't a natural, "I just busted my ass and sweated a fountain" type of odor - it was more of a festering pile of sewage smell that assaulted the nose. I'm pretty sure that he didn't wash himself, his gym clothes, his underwear -- or most likely all three. I could smell him coming and it was bad enough that if he worked next to me, I would finish what I was doing quickly and run for oxygen.

Rocky Jr. - I'm all for boxing, I think it's a great way to stay fit and relieve tension. What I don't get is the guy shadowboxing in front of the dumbbells. My gym has no boxing equipment, not even a place to jump rope, yet Rocky comes here three times a week to get ready for Apollo. Here's a hint: it's not that kind of gym.

Mutterer - This guy loads the bar up with way too much weight, eekes out 3 reps with bad form and then mutters "shit", loudly, after his set prematurely ends. He's under the impression that everyone CARES how much he's lifting and wants us to know that any other day he could have made the lift. If you see this, make sure to avoid eye contact, otherwise you'll end up hearing a lengthy, bullshit explanation for the travesty you just witnessed.

Tightpants - This is self-explanatory. If you even think this might apply to you, buy some new pants. NOW!

Mr. Scream - No matter what weight this guy is using, or what rep he's on, he feels the need to share his pain with us. A certain amount of noise is understandable, and even expected on certain movements (i.e. squats), but nobody wants to hear you yell through 4 sets of pushdowns.

The Hurler - Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with puking. This guy feels the need to launch any weight he's just finished using, especially dumbbells, onto the floor. Not only is this a hazard for anyone near him, it breaks down the dumbbells. Losing control when lowering weights might happen once in while, but launching the weights so everyone can look and see how much you used is pathetic.

The Tag Team - I thought this one was over-stated by everyone, until I joined my latest gym. The team, as the name implies, is actually two guys working together to lift the same weight. This is almost always on the bench press, where one guy loads the bar up and his friend helps him pull every rep after the second one. I've even seen instances where a guy was helped on all of his reps. Rhetorical question time: If you need help to bench 400 lbs, do you really bench 400?

The Entourage - Another one that borders on cliche: You've seen this: a group of guys - usually high school to early 20's - lifting together. They almost always congregate at the bench or preacher station. They hog up this area without seeming to do any work. They're more interested in what party they're going to or which chick they're trying to score with. Lord help you if you want to bench when they're around.

Cable Guy - This guy, for one reason or another, LIVES by the cable stack. Maybe he thinks they're better or safer or maybe he just misses his Bowflex. Either way, cable cross-overs, cable curls, cable crunches and cable lateral raises do not a workout make.

The Jackass - I couldn't think of more appropriate name for the guy who loads up a bar or machine, does his reps and leaves it. The next person is then stuck with the task of unloading the 300lbs his friend just helped him bench. I get pissed just thinking about it.

Mr. Smith - Have you ever seen anyone base his entire workout around the Smith Machine? Most savvy lifters are well versed in the limitations (and evils) of the Smith machine. However, Mr. Smith treats it like a long lost relative and tries to spend as much time on or around it as possible. Bench press? Check. Squat? Check. Incline press? Check. Upright row and lean way back? Check. Extra shearing on his joints? Check. Injury? On it's way.

Mr. Clean... and Curl - Having invented a new exercise, the reverse hang-clean, Mr. Clean sports impressive strength and muscularity in the hips and lower back. Oh wait, he was curling...

The Wanderer - This guy combines his love of walking with weightlifting. His routine: load the bar up, do a set, walk around the gym for 10 minutes and repeat 4 or 5 times. My favorite is when they load up a bar, leave it in the squat rack and come back and curl it. Same amount of time - twice the jackass.

The Orthopedist's Dream - Closely related to Mr. Smith (I'm sure they'll end up in the same waiting room sooner or later) is the Dream. Let's see: he squats onto a chair and bounces back up, deadlifts like he's waiting to be mounted and benches with an arch you could drive a Mini Cooper through. Hey buddy, hear that crackling noise? It's your spine.

Captain Crunch - The last guy I saw like this was middle aged, paunchy and terrified of everyone in my gym. His claim to fame is doing 8 consecutive sets on the crunch machine, with a 5 second rest period in between. His answer when I asked him if I could work in: more crunches. I wonder if his waist has gotten any smaller?

Dance Fever - Every time I see Dance in my gym he's either on his way to, or coming out of an aerobic class. Sometimes I think he does it to meet chicks, but then I remember his stylin' headband and Richard Simmons-like build. I'm all for cardiovascular fitness, but I believe that unless it involves hitting something, men do not belong in aerobic classes. The only Fonda you should even think about imitating is Peter, although I would not recommend his previous "supplementation."

Shortshorts - See Tightpants above. And, if they were once jeans, shoot yourself.

Rack and Roller - This has to be seen to be believed: this guy goes to the dumbbell rack, picks the dumbbells off the rack, places them on the floor and then rolls them to whatever bench he's working on. When he's done, he rolls them back. It's a good thing too... I mean I wouldn't want him to exert himself.

Charlie Bandana - Charlie shows up to the gym in clothes that would embarrass Hulk Hogan. Apparently, he learned everything he knows about gym attire from reading Flex ... in 1986. The bandana, clown pants and shitkicker boots are bad enough, but it's the silly muscle T-shirts (Fear This!) that really push him over the top. I'm sure he feels ultra hardcore, but he looks like a tool.

Right Tackle - 20 years ago Right Tackle dominated the field on his high school football team. I know this because I've heard him tell his story at least 50 times. It's either right before or right after he looks in your direction and says: "I used to lift more than this." Every time a young guy with a decent build comes near him he asks, "You play football?" This inevitably leads to a re-telling of RT's past glories. Hey buddy, leave the kids alone -- it's over.

Treadswill - It's bad enough to watch people bounce the bar off their chests and squat 2 inches down, but now I have to see cheating during cardio?!?! Because walking at 3 MPH is apparently tiring and too stressful, Treadswill eases his pain by leaning onto the display column to support his bulbous form. What the hell's wrong with you when even walking fast is too hard?

The Scholar - I see guys carry bodybuilding mags around the gym all the time. Usually they're trying to follow some bullshit 30 set routine; I feel bad for them but it doesn't really bother me. What irritates me is the guy reading a book in between sets. You shouldn't be able to talk between sets, much less have the ability to read a book. I mean, if you're not going to put real effort in, then why bother in the first place? Last time I checked there were no studies showing that reading Dune is anabolic.

Mr. Natswole - The biggest "natural" guy in the gym. I have no problems with gear, but watching moonface talk about the virtues of being natural and how it was training "balls to the wall" that got him big really gets to me. Nobody's asking for a confession, but if you're juicing don't try to present yourself as something you're not. Unless, of course, your name is Skip...

Dumbellina - Okay, I know I said this would be about guys, but I'm sure at least one woman will read this. Anyway, Dumbellina is the epitome of what women shouldn't be doing in the gym. Her entire workout revolves around those tiny cast iron dumbbells that wouldn't give a toddler a good workout. I'm not sure what's she's doing with them, but it looks like her goal is to one day flap her arms and take to the sky. One of these days, I expect to see her gracefully soaring over the parking lot. The good thing is, I'm sure those nasty weights won't make her too big.

Desperado - Every gym has at least one of these guys, whose sole purpose at the gym is to search for someone to rub up against. His habits of constantly leering at, hitting on, or "accidentally" bumping into the female members make him a nuisance. One of these days he's going to bump the wrong girl and end with 25lb plate sticking in the side of his head.

Baby Huey - Here's one for the younger guys. Huey's claim to fame is that he mocks all of his scrawny classmates at my gym for the weights they use. Being a skinny teenager is hard enough and I'm sure getting to the gym takes some balls for these guys. What they don't need is verbal abuse from some doofus who just happened to be born big, fat and strong. He's another one that will eventually screw with wrong person and have his ass handed to him.

Coach - Coach has somehow managed talk his girlfriend into going to the gym and letting him train her. Unfortunately, he thinks she needs to follow his "hardcore" training methods. It's almost comical listening to him tell her that leg pressing is for sissies. It's even funnier to listen to him correct her out loud for wanting to "tone up." Hey pal, she doesn't care if "getting toned" is a misnomer -- she just wants to look good. She squats with better form than you anyway...

How about perfume/cologne guy? If this guy gets in your vicinity while you are working out, watch out! The smell will slap you in the face and make you drop your weights. The only frangrance we should smell is deoderant. They can also be the barbody, sharp dressed man, or desperado.

Here's another one: Mr. I prefer the gym bathroom over my own. If you see or spot one in the locker room, run. Don't take your shoes off in their vicinity, they some how get the locker room wet from floor to ceiling. No one likes wet socks. These are the guys that will shower for no reason, loiter naked, shave naked, drop nasty bombs in the toilet and leave them there, comb their hair naked, & try to start conversations with you...naked. Go home! I didn't even see you work out!

Here's another, not PC but he has to be on the list: Mr. Homo here to make all of the gym rats uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a homophobe. But everytime a guy does a deadlift or bends over to pick up a weight, he will be there watching...either directly or via mirrors. Dude, this is not a gay bar! There are gyms for guys like you. He may also be classified as sharp dressed man, Mr. short shorts, mr tight pants, or Dance Fever.

Or heres my favorite: The Steriod Heads. They will come in angry..probably because their nuts are nonexistant or because they can't get it up. Are known for throwing the equipment around, scaring the skinny kids, and making a general pest of themselves. They can be classified as Mr. Scream, The Hurler, the Tagteam, or sometimes Mr. Jackass.

"Hot and Sexy Girl": This woman (who usually shows up in full make-up & tight outfits) will bend and stretch in front of everyone - trying to get you to check out her butt or tits. She is often found in front of the mirror, or following some guy around the gym. The problem? She is what some would call a "Monet" - good looking from a distance & pug-ugly up close. I just want to say "get a grip lady" - preferrably on a weight or two...

Poser: The guy that loads the bar or machine to the max, stands beside it looking around for girls, then unloads the machine - without ever doing the exercise. This guy also tends to pose in front of the mirror - flexing non-existent muscles & sometimes even making "kissy faces" to his reflection.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Dear Joy,

Go write your own blog.

Sincerely Yours,

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Marjorie said...

What was Joy doing in the men's room? She can now take over your blog.

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Dear Chris

I stole these from a friend who happens to be a Personal Trainer.

Eat shit and die.


PS, know why I'm better than you? I could start a blog about that.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Joy,

Why so hostile? I think Chris was merely pointing out that your comment to his blog was 4 times the length of his blog post itself, and you would perhaps be better served to start your own blog if you have so much to say.

'RoidRage- This type of comment-leaver tries to one-up the author of the blog, then when asked not to do so again, replies with an angry, defensive, hate-filled "Eat shit and die." In general, 'RoidRage is not very mature and has an "I'm actually better than you" complex.

My identity is not important. (Though I do expect you will respond to that. Go for it.)

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Thanks for the fun, Chris and next time feel free to decline anything I post.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Wow, this is the closest I've gotten to having a flame war on my blog! And I barely said a word!

If the anonymous commenter knew of our friendship and that my comment was in jest, he/she would not have said the things he/she said.

Joy, you are still my hero. Please, comment away.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you might as well leave out the "New York" bit because every gym ever anywhere has the same cast of fools.

2:34 PM  

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