Andrea Freedman

Going to the gym, besides helping us to stay in good physical condition, can also be an interesting place to observe different types of people, specifically with respect to their workouts.

As a regular at the health club I am a member of, I cannot help noticing some of the quirks of other faithful gym-goers and find some of them so amusing that I have given them nicknames.

There is Squeaky Shoe Man, an older gentleman whose running shoes make a squeaking sound when he walks on the treadmill or anywhere else in the club for that matter. When on one occasion the man noticed myself and a friend of mine snickering about it, he and his wife looked at us indignantly but continued on with their routines nonetheless, and as far as I can see, or hear rather, new, quieter shoes have not since been purchased.

Then we have Throat Clearing Newspaper Tosser, a revolting man who rides the bike at the gym and tosses his newspapers all over the place, especially on the bikes on either side of him, so that other people are discouraged from using them. I find myself unable to use the bike when this person is there because his presence bothers me so much it gets my blood pressure up, which kind of defeats the purpose of exercising in the first place. Not only is he inconsiderate in the unnecessary space he takes up and the mess he makes, he is constantly clearing his throat in an exaggerated manner, possibly to garner attention or quite simply just to be annoying.

One of the members who I find most fascinating is someone I like to call Formal Wear Guy. This man actually wears a button up shirt and trousers to work out in. The only proper workout attire he does wear are running shoes. His shirt could otherwise be worn to work, that is if it was not covered in sweat. I wonder if he keeps the same clothes on after he is finished working out and lets them dry off on him while he is on his way to work.
When I saw him in his familiar outfit the other day at the gym, I could not help noticing that his shirt now had a large tear at the elbow. Furthermore, the pants showed visible signs of ground-in sweat stains. It got me thinking. I had assumed that since the man was able to afford the cost of his fairly expensive gym membership, that he would have no trouble splurging on at least one proper gym outfit. Maybe his attire is merely a symptom of something that may not have anything to do with money.

Extreme Sweaty Guy is one person at the gym who perspires to an extraordinary degree. I realize that we are in a gym, where sweating is acceptable as well as encouraged, but this poor guy needs to cover the floor surrounding the bike he is riding, as well as the stationary bike itself, with towels on either side of him as well as in front and behind. Those towels are noticeably soaked right through. I must confess, as someone who is drenched in sweat by the end of my own workout, Extreme Sweaty Guy is someone I can sort of relate to.

Flabby Armed, Coffee Drinking Crazy Runner is a middle-aged woman who has become visibly skinnier and gaunt looking as time has gone on. Although she has become noticeably thinner over time, possibly frighteningly so, the flab on her arms seems more pronounced with each pounce of her feet on the treadmill. She runs incessantly, a coffee always in the spot where her water should be. The woman holds onto the treadmill for dear life, most likely out of fear of falling because she has set the speed too high. There is usually a point where the woman switches treadmills, coffee and purse in tow.

No Upper Arms runs with his forearms scrunched up, so that when he runs it looks as though his flailing hands are jutting straight out of his shoulders, as if he has no upper arms, only forearms.

Military Woman always runs with a hooded jacket tied around her waste and her hands straight out in front of her. She never breaks her perfect posture, something she should really be commended on. Because she does everything with such precision, the name Military Woman always comes to mind when I see her in the gym.

Self-proclaimed, Imaginary Model. We have all seen them, the women you see staring at themselves in the mirror in the weight area, posing and making faces while they try to look like they are working out.

Of course no gym would be complete without the cliché of Gratuitous Grunter, the overly bulky guy grunting with every lift of his ridiculously heavy barbells.

The Boxer, The Singer, The Clapper and the Too-Short Shorts Wearer, just to name a few more. I could go on and on. They are out in full force. Everywhere I turn I see one of them while I am working out.

People look different when you see them outside the gym. There has been more than one occasion where I have been told “I almost did not recognize you out of your workout attire.” Sometimes it is surprising to see the changes in fellow gym members after they have showered and done their hair and make-up. Perhaps they also seem so different because they have left some of their peculiar habits in the gym.

The fact that we are all known as Gym Rats is a little weird in itself but I guess it really doesn’t matter, as long as we all benefit from being at the gym. Who knows what’s going on beneath our respective headsets? I wonder if anyone there thinks I or any of my exercise habits are weird or, for that matter, if anyone has a nickname for me.

Our goals and desired results are things that all of us at the gym have in common, no matter our varied techniques, habits or attire. We are all in our own worlds under our iPods, sculpting our bodies, becoming super heroes, even if it is for just one hour a day, and even if we happen to look a little bit weird in the process.♦

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013


About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on February 3, 2013, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You have the courage to put on paper what most of us are thinking at the gym and I’m sure some of those gym members have a name for you too 🙂


  2. Phil and Gloria Freedman

    That certainly sounds familiar. I used to have comments in my head when I went to the gym. Now, I work out on my own, and don’t have to be bothered by all of these people who have strange hangups when they are working out. It is very interesting and amusing, to say the least. It’s true that these people are also judging us when we are there. We never realize what we look like when we are in different situations. That was a very good article, and so true to life. Good luck on your future endeavours. You are a wonderful writer.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: