I recently started working out again. After bearing most of the brunt of a long, hard, snowy winter with a jar of Nutella and a spoon, my thighs have decided that I now must go back to the place that sends shivers of fear through my back fat. The gym.
I hate the gym. I hate it with the fiery passion of ten thousand suns. I hate it as much as Jennifer Lopez hates sharing the spotlight with Steven Tyler on American Idol. I hate it as much as Matthew McConaughey hates wearing a shirt (God bless him). I hate it as much as Lindsey Lohan hates public decency. But like those mentioned, sometimes we just have to suck it up and soldier on no matter how much it pains us. Well, except for Lindsey Lohan. I’ve given up hope of her ever embracing decency.
The only thing that gets me through an hour at the gym is the people watching. Yes, I’m watching you. I notice when you surreptitiously pick that wedgie and I notice when you don’t wipe the equipment. But more than that, I’ve begun to see the gym, and the people in it, as a microcosm for the larger world outside its concrete walls. It’s my impression that what you do in the gym speaks volumes about who you are in everyday life and most can be placed into distinct categories.
Let’s judge them together, shall we? (Note: My gym is a suburban YMCA. Your experience may vary.)
First up, everybody’s favorite gym rat – The Muscle Man.
Sure, he’s got a slamming body but he knows it and he wants to make sure you know it too. He likes to draw attention to himself by parading around with his arms a minimum of six inches away from his body, making it impossible for you to walk down an aisle of work out equipment opposite of him without either turning sideways to let his glorious self lumber by or brush up against his glistening biceps. He’s either a junior vice president of a major corporation or he lives in his mom’s basement. Doesn’t really matter, in the gym he is a GOD.
The Workout Princess.
Not to be confused with another archetype, the Workout Queen, whom I will get to in a moment, the Workout Princess is 5’5, 115 pounds, and is named Kimmie. She has the perfect casual ponytail and her capri length leggings and lycra tank top fit her like she was born with them on. She’s adorable and it would be difficult to hate her if it wasn’t for her amazing rack and 20 inch waist. It’s okay, hate away. Because in real life she’s probably doing something noble, like working on raising the money for her 3 month trip to inoculate orphans in Uganda. Or she works at Abercrombie and Fitch. Either way, her life is more interesting then yours.
The Workout Queen.
This lady came to hardcore exercise later in life. That body is hard won and she looks better now than she did in high school, dammit. She’s got the comparison pictures on her iPhone to prove it. If you engage her in conversation she will happily tell you all about her three hour workouts, her macrobiotic diet and exactly where all your trouble spots are. No need to thank her.
The Hairy and/or Sweaty Guy.
Dude, I come from a family of sweaty/hairy people myself so no judgment here. But please, for all that is good and holy, wipe down the fecking equipment when you’re done.
The Silver Fox.
The Silver Fox is charming, polite, looks great for his age and gives off a slight fatherly vibe. He always inquires about your children, job, or your other interests he’s learned by chatting you up on the elliptical machines. He’s sweet and always has a ready smile for you when you meet near the free weights… and he’s totally checking out your ass in the mirror.
Bless their silver hair, the Grandparents are my favorite gym stereotype. They’re adorable in their clean sweatpants and pristine white sneakers. If they recognize you they’ll give you a wink at the water fountain or encouragement at the nautilus machines. It seems like the Grandmother never breaks a sweat and the Grandfather is so into his workout you just have to admire their determination. But see that treadmill? The third and fourth ones on the left? Do not mess with those because those are the Grandparents favorites and they will stand behind you and sigh until you get off the damn things already. Dear.
The Harried Parent.
You know them by the bags under their eyes or the Cheerio stuck to the thigh of their brand new yoga pants. They carry a beeper in case they need to fetch their two year old from the childcare room and they hurry through the equipment as if their life depended on it. You’d like to try to talk to one of them but you can’t because they’re wearing ear buds while flipping furiously through one of their five magazines or a just-started book. It’s very likely there is no music being played through those speakers – who needs music when you can listen to the sound of silence for an hour? It’s best not to bother them because the Harried Parent only has an hour and a half a day to themselves and they plan on making the most of it. They’re using the gym as part mood lifter/part childcare. They’ll talk to you when their kids are in school full time.
Did I miss any? Feel free to add your favorites.