Almost every morning, I head to the gym. I used to be an afternoon or evening exerciser, but I’ve found that tormenting myself with intense physical activity first thing in the morning is the only way I can really prepare myself for the full day of job- and chore-related torment that lies ahead.

Going to the gym around the same time each day gives you a full view onto the panorama of human nature. You see, humans are ritualistic creatures of habit, even if some of those habits are questionable at best. You never speak to your fellow gym-goers, and avoid direct eye contact at all costs, but you know them. A little too well, perhaps. For when you see the same strangers over and over again, patterns start to emerge. Broadly-stroked characterizations are made. Creative names are bestowed. What. You don’t do this?

In any case, gather ’round, folks, and bear witness to this collection of the finest specimens from my local gym:


The American Idol Reject. Me, I count it as a good day when I can simply get on and off the machine without falling down. This lady is mysteriously so well-coordinated that she can dance while she works out. Techno beats blasting from her earphones, she sings along with the lyrics and sways her body in place, capping it off with rhythmic claps and air punches in time with the beat. This necessitates removing her hands from the arms of the elliptical machine, of course, which in turn causes me to want to protectively lunge at her in order to prevent her from getting knocked off balance by her momentum and crumpling to the floor like Amy Winehouse on a bender. Then, she grins. Grins! Like exercising is a really great time! Either that or her alien overlords just beamed her the message that they are pleased with her progress and are promoting her to Lady Gaga’s body. I guess I’d be excited about that, too.

The Phlegmatist. When this man enters the gym you may as well just give up and go home, because from this point on your workout will be peppered by a gut-rupturing throat-clearing sound that can only be written as HOENNGH. It does not matter how far away from you this person chooses to work out, or if you maximize the volume on your iPod — you can still hear him. It does not matter whether he’s lifting weights, riding a stationary bike, or cranking it out at the top of the stair-stepper — he still does it. Every 1.5 minutes he unleashes a compulsive HOENNGH upon on a room of unsuspecting sweaty people, just like clockwork. If only Amtrak trains were so precise.

The Rabid Prancer. There are a few words that spring to mind when witnessing a display of physical prowess such as this. Fierce. Relentless. Spasmatic. Perpetually clad in a blue bandanna, fingerless gloves, and what appears to be clothing stolen off the rack from the children’s department, this lady is a visual performance before she even approaches a machine. Once she actually gets on the treadmill, you can forget about finishing that magazine article. She rachets the incline all the way up to 10, clutches the top of the machine in a death grip, lunges forward violently with biceps bulging, and — just when you think she’s about to beat everyone in a 50-yard radius into dust particles or simply explode in a pure flash of searing blue flame — she commences mincing. No, really. She takes these timid, tiny steps forward while rhythmically shaking her head from side to side — fifty minutes straight of what appears to be an anguished internal debate along the lines of “No, no, no, no, no, no, NO!” I am happy to watch this over SportsCenter any day.

The Ride ‘Em Cowboy. Imagine, if you will, that you are working out on an elliptical machine when you hear the sound of a muffled slow clap. It’s not stopping, so you start looking around for the source, only to realize that it’s the guy next to you, and he is rhythmically slapping himself on the ass in time with his steps. The first time this happened I did a quadruple take, blatantly violating my personal gym rule of not looking at anyone or anything, ever. He was still merrily going at it. For the record, it’s always the same hand and the same buttock. Hey, if your self-motivation requires a little self-flagellation, who am I to judge?

The Philosopher. What’s the point? The true philosopher knows there isn’t one. This frees her mind to consider other things, like movies on AMC. I once counted over a minute pass in which she stood motionless on her elliptical machine, watching the film on the tiny screen before her intently. Every so often, she breaks her stance by making one full circuit in the foot pedals, then pauses again. When the mood strikes her, she will sometimes keep her legs moving for a handful of minutes at a stretch before slowly coming to a full stop again. After a sufficient amount of time has gone by, she then gets off the machine and leaves the gym. I suspect the philosopher is smarter than all of us combined.

The Youthful Oblivion. Oh, honey. Oh, honey. I don’t know what’s worse: that she is working out in a t-shirt paired with what looks like a prepubescent boy’s boxer briefs, or that the t-shirt is so long that from certain angles it looks like she isn’t even wearing underwear at all. And not only is she NOT WEARING PANTS, I can actually see the very bottom of her derriere. No one is trying to slut-shame anyone here, I just want her to PUT ON SOME PANTS. As a personal favor to me, okay? I can understand a simple mistake every now and again, like maybe she was in the middle of getting dressed when she got distracted by the part in that Nicki Minaj video when the crazy-eyed dude seemingly loses his shit in a pink room and starts chest-flexing like his life depends on it and she just utterly forgot to put on pants, WHICH SHE DID. But when one no-pants workout turns into a no-pants repeat offense, you start to wonder. Maybe she simply can’t afford them? Poor lass. I am tempted to take up a pants drive in her name. PANTS.

I hope you have enjoyed our time here today. Remember, when going to the gym, please remember to mute your cell phone, wipe down your machine, and leave your crazy in the locker.

23 Responses to “gymnasty”

  1. oi! this is exactly the reason why i chose to workout at home.

  2. Comment 1: TEAM NO PANTS!

    Comment 2: I was on the treadmill yesterday when this guy starts lifting, stretching, and generally showing off right in front of my machine, directly between me and the tv. (I was watching HOUSEHUNTERS, dude. BACK OFF.) I was trying to figure out how to politely ask him to move aside when I accidentally knocked my ipod through the cupholder and onto the treadmill, where it shot off behind me, pulling out my earphones and almost knocking me down. By the time I was straightened out he was gone. CLEARLY, his loss.

  3. That GIF is fucking awesome.
    You know that, right?

    We have a TON of 14-15 yr-old girls that work out together at our gym…and I’m all – “I can barely afford this membership every month….what in the heel are girls doing here? They flirt with the Mexican bodybuilder-types that do those upside down crunches on the bar? Yuck. Then they hang out in the sauna afterward talking about yadda-yadda this and yadda-yadda that and I can feel their stupid, adolescent judgy eyes on me for being ACTUALLY sweaty in a gym. Bitches.

    • Yeah, I am kind of enamored of it. I don’t want to think about how many minutes of my life I’ve already wasted watching it.

      And oh, yipes! I am so glad that mine isn’t overrun by those types!

  4. Well it’s decided. I’m never going to a gym.

  5. YO YO girl, I spent two years in college working 40+ hour weeks at the university health and rec complex (when I graduated they gave me a personalized brick from when they built the building… yeah… I KINDA RAN THAT PLACE)……… So I feelyu. I’m like, hospitalization-level asthmatic so I don’t actually work out “per se”, anymore, and this makes me miss it so much more. I miss the nicknames! I miss the clockwork habits of the patrons that come in on the 6am shift. Seriously. You wanna see crazy gym goers? Go at 6am.

    On another note, at 23 I have a metabolism like a hummingbird, but I feel like this will soon end. Kinda like at 18 I never got hungover, but now I drink a beer and immediately get a headache. So maybe I will become one of those gym-goers once again… who knows?

    Keep the gym stories coming; they make me nostalgic.

  6. those descriptions are SO RIGHT ON. I would like to add one from my gym: The Skin Is In. I understand that showers are taken and then people need to get dressed. For me, I get out of that towel and into my clothes in a similar fashion from when I changed my shirt in middle school gym class. Kind of like that shimmy move where the one shirt comes off and the gym shirt comes on without one inch of skin ever showing. What I don’t understand is sitting in a non-ladylike fashion in front of your locker, BUTT NAKED, playing on your phone for 15 minutes. I mean, what the heck is she doing? Air drying?

    • Yeeeeeeeeeah, blame it on the whole American puritanism or whatever, but I’m just not so much into public nudity. This is why I chose the gym that’s incredibly close to home, so I can go back and shower at my own spot where NO ONE IS LOOKING.

  7. THIS is why I quit going to the gym at the college I work at. Imagine those weirdos times eleven million; that’s where I worked out. You captured it well my friend, slow clap for you. Or butt clap? Hahaha. Although, I swim three times a week now and I think I’ve found weirder people there…

  8. Ohh this made me crack up! I think I need to start going to your gym, for the sole purpose of being entertained. I’d love to watch the American Idol wanna be.. although I have to admit that I’ve totally been that person before, forgetting people are around me and jamming to some crazy upbeat song. Not my finest moment.

    But the cowboy?? Really??? I’m not sure I could stay and not be laughing hysterically. Lord knows how you get your workouts in with so much going on around you 😉

  9. Ooohhh sister.

    Then there’s the Meat Market. This is the guy who puts on his skimpiest shirt and name-brand shorts, then comes to the gym just to WALK AROUND and check out the girls who are working out. He may occasionally bend over and touch a free weight, or lie down on a yoga mat to try to peer up your shorts when you walk by.

    My nicknames are slightly different but the writing is hilarious as always!

  10. We had to have an intervention to get my favorite auntie to stop wearing her little white shorts below which one could see cheek. Maybe this girl needs to be told that the grownups just don’t want to look at her ass?

    • Ha! I was thinking about casually dropping a spare pair of pants right in front of her machine as I walked by… but I think that would be too subtle of a hint.

  11. Oh, but wait until you begin the early morning lap swimming circuit – those people are just as ridiculous. You have the two “water joggers” who wallow for an hour and a half in two separate lanes (taking up 1/3 of the lanes available while they chat away). Then you have the woman whose strokes are so slow, you wonder how she’s not sinking. She swims a mile and a half every morning. Then the guy who thinks he’s hot shit and commences windmilling his way through the water, causing spray and tidal waves that threaten to drown you whenever you pass each other. Oh, and the person who thinks that they should share a lane with you, but that means meandering across the center line and running face first into you. Awesome. For some reason, the night exercisers aren’t nearly as crazy. But if nothing else, the circus act you’re watching while working out makes the time go by incredibly quickly!

    • Doesn’t it make you HATE people sometimes? I just want to workout/swim in peace!

    • Haha, I used to be one of them chatty “water joggers” – though we had the courtesy to stick to the random shaped area at the end of the pool that wasn’t used for lanes. It would drive us CRAZY when the swimmers (with tons of room in their designated lanes!) invaded our area. Not that I expect sympathy – even my own husband (who used to be a swimmer and lifeguard) has none since I’m just a lowly jogger! Ah the pool wars.

  12. This was hilarious. And completely verified my choice not to use a gym. However, I will counter this post with a post on the dangers of working out at home, any day now…

    You blog makes me so happy 🙂

  13. I do not miss going to the gym. Thank you, streaming Netflix fitness videos.

  14. you inspire me to go to the gym if I am missing out on hilarious people like this! that coughing guy is everyone though, I don’t have to go to the gym to see him.

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