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Friday, February 21, 2014

12 Gym Stereotypes that Refuse to Die

“I think he did maybe three sets the whole hour,” my coworker said, referring to a famous – at least in his mind – Hollywood screenwriter who often visits our gym. “Otherwise, he was texting, emailing, finding the perfect music mix, having a 15-minute conference call… Anything but actually work out.”

I wanted to tell my coworker she was sounding a little stalker-ish tracking this guy’s every move, but then I remember she had a crush on him. Our conversation turned to gym stereotypes that clients persist in keeping alive.

I named
12 off the top of my head. Now, what I’m about to describe are caricatures, but look around at your gym and be honest; I’ll bet you see a few of them. Do any of these folks sound familiar?

1.      The Very Important Business Guy. My coworker’s Hollywood screenwriter fell into this category. These guys have Very Important Business to conduct, even at the gym. So their “rest time” between sets vastly outspans any time they actually work out. Other people waiting for equipment? Doesn’t matter to Very Important Business Guy, who’s clearly in the middle of his next big movie deal, even if said deal involves a straight-to-video soft-core porn film with D-grade actresses.

2.     The Bimbette. She’s had at least two boob jobs, and she’s not shy at letting it all hang out (bottom but mostly top). You swear you've seen her in several films your ex-boyfriend kept hidden in his special drawer that had “busty” or “DDD” in their title. Come to think of it, maybe she should hook up with Very Important Business Guy for his next “feature film.” Don’t you dare ogle that jacked-up cleavage, she not-so-subtly taunts you with her sultry eyes as she playfully works the seated chest press.

3.     The Show-It-All Dude. In a tank top and ball-hugging shorts, he’s the male equivalent of the big-boobed bimbette except with really bad, overly pink skin. (Hello to too many hours in the tanning bed.) While he thinks you’re checking out his bulging biceps (or bulging other parts), you’re actually gawking at those big red boils on his upper back and his always-sweating upper shoulder. If you were blunt to the point of rudeness you’d scream, “Dude, cover that shit up!” Instead, you grimace and try not to look at this hot mess/train wreck working the seated row.

4.     The Obedient Girlfriend. Because her boyfriend is really, really into fitness, she subserviently tags along as he walks her through a few machines. Her “lofty” goals include getting “toned” by beach season, but you know what’s really happening: she’s his trophy girlfriend to parade around to other gym-goers as he dutifully instructs her how to use the leg extension machine.

5.     The Very Intellectual Reader.  No People Weekly for these folks: Usually dressed in leftist-slogan tee shirts, they’re too busy catching up on the political climate in Sudan or rereading Dostoyevsky, usually as you’re patiently awaiting the lateral pull-down. Watch as they give dirty looks to the soccer mom on the adjacent elliptical machine watching The View. (So bourgeois!) While they might do a few reps on the chest supported row, they’re far more interested in that 10,000-word expose about gun control in The Nation.

6.     The Chick Pack. The antithesis of the Very Intellectual Reader, you’ll find this group – stylishly dressed in Lulu’s latest; no cheap Target workout gear for them! – either on the elliptical machine (LOL! Did you see what happened on General Hospital today!?) or awaiting that new aerobics class with the hot new Mario Lopez look-alike instructor. Afterwards, you’ll probably see them at Forever Yogurt, “legally” devouring fat-free strawberry fro-yo since they just burned 500 calories on the elliptical and OMG, it’s fat-free!

7.     The Hogger. Oblivious to anyone around him, this guy’s more narcissistic than selfish. Never mind that three people are waiting to use the machine or share equipment. In his mind, The Hogger owns the gym and he can take his own damn time with equipment. What’s that, you say? Someone’s waiting? He’ll be done in “just a sec,” as soon as he shuffles his iPod for the third time and does two more sets.

8.     The Dude Group. Usually younger, these bro-speak teens or 20-somethings hang out in packs, spotting each other as they “bench.” More often, they’re laughing or sharing earbuds to hear the new Lil Wayne remixes. Regardless, they totally dominate the area they’re in. You want to tell them they could get more accomplished if they split up and actually worked out instead of loudly talking about banging some (probably imaginary) chick last night.

9.     The “What Decade am I In?” Dude. Retro is cool if you’re in on the irony. This guy isn’t. Perpetually stuck in 1984, this dude wears nylon shorts hoisted high up on the waist, red Reebok double Velcro shoes, and a Journey concert t-shirt tightly stretched over his muffin top. Then there’s the hair, or what’s left of his gray, frizzy moussed-up mullet. Retro dude gets very friendly with the ladies, especially Chick Packs (way out of his league) or Bimbettes (who remind him of the women in Porky’s and other 80s favorite movies).

10.  The Pigpen. Mind you, very few people shower before the gym. This guy hasn’t showered in three days, nor is he fond of doing laundry. His sweat-stained sleeveless tee and grungy shorts wreak of stale beer and bologna sandwiches. Never mind forgetting to wipe down the equipment; when Pigpen’s done, the permeating odor practically demands the whole area be permanently condemned.

11.   The Very Angry Guy. You can hear Rage Against the Machine seeping out of his earphones, and you just know Taxi Driver is his favorite movie. With his super-intense Henry Rollins glare, angry guy vacillates between blowout heavy lifting (you can hear his emphatic grunts across the room) and head-banging to vintage Slayer. You’ve never seen him interact with anyone at the gym, and God help the person who gets in his way.

12.  The Earnest but Oh-So-Wrong Guy. My heart goes out to this guy, because he really busts his ass to get in shape. Trouble is, he’s doing it all wrong: Working out on machines, using the wrong weights, perilously close to throwing out his back from poor form, doing the same damn thing over and over. Too frugal to hire a trainer, too stuck in his ways to mix things up, and too afraid to join the big boys (and girls) at the weight racks, he’s content working away on the row machine listening to Arcade Fire, even if he never shows any progress.

I discuss these stereotypes for laughs, but if only we could resign them to bad sitcoms and dumb comedies. Unfortunately, you’ll find many of them at your local gym. Keep the conversation going. What gym stereotype do you often see that I didn’t mention here? Share your comments below or on my Facebook fan page
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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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