Every day, I go to the gym after I see my son off to school. I’m diagnosed with ADHD and generalized anxiety/panic disorder, so after I have a green protein shake and my delicious daily Xanax, I go to the gym. This allows me to burn excess energy, get the positive endorphins flowing, and work off anxiety.
And every day, the people in my gym unknowingly cause me some of the anxiety I’m there to alleviate.
I’ve been working out at home and in gyms since I was 14, and am well-versed in proper weightlifting form. I’m one of those wacky people who’s always loved to exercise, probably because it corrects a lot of my brain chemical imbalances and raises my low self-esteem. (Let’s hear it for body image issues! Woo! No? Just me?) If I start my day with a good workout, I have a better day. It’s guaranteed. So not going to the gym isn’t an option.
Because of the aforementioned anxiety disorder, I belong to a smaller gym. I chose it because I can see the exits from everywhere in the gym, and the front is made of glass. If this sounds odd to you, familiarize yourself with the symptoms of generalized anxiety and panic disorder (similar to PTSD), and you’ll understand.
(I don’t like crowds, I need a clear escape route wherever I go, I have an overactive startle reflex, and I trust no one. Xanax literally gave me back my life; at least the life outside of my home.)
But the people. Oh, some of the people in my gym. Just… wow.
I should say that most of the people in my gym are nice, have great manners, we say hello, and they’re lovely humans. But there are a few that stress me out on a regular basis, and those are the people I’d like to discuss here.
With this in mind, I want to send out into the intellectual ether a list of annoying gym habits, so people may nod their heads in agreement with me – or will please stop doing these things if they recognize themselves.
1. The Super Slammer—
Hi, Meatbird. May I call you Meatbird? No? Okay, sorry. It’s just that you seem obsessed with amassing flesh on your upper body, while completely ignoring the lower half. Your workout regimen is giving you the appearance of a bulky, top-heavy bird, and calling you “Turkey” seemed rude. Forgive me. I’m probably just being bitchy because I’m jealous of your delicate ankles.
Anyhow… Chad. Todd. Blake. Whatever your name is. If you could stop slamming the weights down after every… single… one… of the 5 reps you’re barely able to do because you’re lifting more than you can handle, that would be great. (<— Say this in the classic “Office Space” annoying boss voice for extra points.)
Because firstly, you’re scaring the ever-loving shit out of everyone in the gym who isn’t looking in your direction when you loudly drop the weights. Yes, even the people who don’t have anxiety disorders.
And secondly, those who are knowledgeable about weightlifting realize that controlling your repetitions on the way down is just as important for muscle-building as the upward movement.
In short: You’re being such a loud jackass that I can’t even drown out your crashing noises with my headphones cranked to the max. Stop it. And learn proper weightlifting form, brah. You look like total newb.
2. The Heartrate Hog—
Hi, Lady at My Gym Who Wears Jeans and Does the Crossword on the Recumbent Bike for an Hour. I just wanted to let you know you’re being rude.
“Why?” you may ask. Or not. I don’t care. I’m going to tell you either way. You’re being rude because there are only 2 recumbent bikes in our smallish gym for middle-aged people like myself who trashed our knees via youthful running, and can now only do knee-friendly cardio. Since we can’t fit a swimming pool in our gym, this leaves only the bikes for bunk-kneed folks like me.
Except… when you monopolize 1 of the 2 bikes while the other is in use to pedal so slowly you’re able to legibly write words across and down. Then, this doesn’t leave any bikes at all. Just you. In your jeans and cardigan. Doing the crossword. For an hour.
It’s sometimes written via signs on gym walls, but mostly it’s an Unspoken Rule of Gym Club (it’s the second rule, actually… I’m breaking the first rule with this article) that if all versions of a cardio machine are full, polite gym members limit their cardio to 30 minutes per machine.
Did you know this? Of course you didn’t, or I’m sure you would stop your rousing hour-long game of newspaper trivia to let someone else have a chance to bike.
In short: Why you don’t spend your gym membership money on a recumbent bike for your home, and give those of us who want to break a sweat a chance to do some fucking cardio? Thanks.
3. Just the Pro-Tip, I Promise—
Hi, Brian. I’m calling you Brian for this article, because that’s the actual name of the guy at my gym who used to give me constant pro-tips. Because of this, all pro-tippers will forever be known as Brian to me. Sorry, nice Brians of the world. It’s not your fault. Brian at my gym ruined it for you. Blame pro-tip Brian, other Brians.
Even though I don’t know Brian at all, Brian likes to walk over to me while I’m doing leg lift machine reps and give me amazing pro-tips like “twist your legs from side to side to work all the muscles.” I stupidly tried it. This resulted in my wrenched knees becoming so painful from twisting them while lifting that I couldn’t walk the next day.
Brian also gave me a pro-tip that involved my neck muscles, which are easily hurt ever since I was rear-ended by a distracted driver doing 50 MPH as I waited for a light to turn green. I told Brian this, but he assured me that no, it wouldn’t hurt my neck. That pro-tip set my fitness regimen back about a week as I waited for my strained neck muscles to heal.
Now I ignore Brian, and all the other pro-tip givers trying to “help me” (read: boost their insecure egos by condescendingly trying to teach someone who already knows how to exercise).
In short: Unless I’m paying you to be my personal trainer, get the fuck out of my face and let me work out. And save your ego issues for your therapist, unless you’re going to pay me to help you with those. Brian.
4. My Long Lost Relative—
Hi, My Long Lost Relative! It’s great to meet you!
What do you mean, we’re not related? I don’t understand.
No, I’m not crazy, I promise. It’s just that you left so much DNA via the oily rivulets of fluid dripping down the seat and back of the weight machine you last used, that when I sat in it, I figured we became automatic Sweat Siblings.
So what you’re saying is that we’re not Sweat Siblings now? Darn.
I’m disappointed because I was hoping that you could be the younger Sweat Sibling. And then cleaning repulsive human secretions off the weight machines would be a chore our Sweat Mom would make you do. You know, since you left them there and all.
In short: You’re disgusting. See all the free paper towels and bottles of cleaner our gym has conveniently placed in all areas? Use them, you horrifying perspiration beast.
5. The Lazy Lifter—
Hi, Lazy Lifter! Yes, you. I’m talking to you.
“But I’m at the gym… how can I be lazy?” you ask?
You’re lazy because you come to the gym, in theory, to exercise, and then despite the signs asking you to rack your weights, you still leave them on the bars and machines for someone else to take off.
I notice this most often when I walk over to use the leg press machine and there are 4 heavy weights on the bar – on each side – that have been left by the last user. This makes me worry that someone is still using it, and also, that I’m going to pull that pesky weak-ass neck muscle I mentioned above as I unload the 8 large weights you left behind.
This is equivalent to getting a glass of milk and leaving the carton out for the next person to put into the refrigerator for you.
This is equivalent to taking a big dump in a toilet and leaving it for the next person to flush for you.
This is equivalent to being an inconsiderate asshole who leaves weights on the machines for the next person to take off for you.
In short: There’s no short version of this one. If you don’t know what I’m asking you to do, you’re as dumb as the weights you don’t put back where they belong.
This concludes my current list of top gym etiquette frustrations, with a bonus shout-out to the guy who “saves” machines by putting his gym bag on the one he’s not using at the moment, like we’re in a high school cafeteria rather than a gym.
Also: An extra-special bonus shout-out goes to the large man who was at the gym the one – and last – time I tried to go at 4 a.m. to avoid the crowds (and be guaranteed a precious recumbent bike).
When it was just you and me, alone in the gym, sir, and you growled in a disturbingly sexual way while lifting weights, and then counted your reps out loud in a raspy serial killer voice behind me, I decided I’d never go to the gym in the dark again. Thanks for the extra terror-calories I burned that day, dude. My hot bod will totally be worth the nightmares.
*Cool photo at top by SandyJo Kelly, via Flikr Creative Commons.