The 7 Jerks You Meet in Every Gym

"TOO MUCH HAM," you bellowed this morning, and you were right to do so: Far too much ham has passed through your gaping craw in recent days. Scientists and religious leaders stand united in their belief that your ham consumption cannot be permitted to exist in this universe. And today, as you wake up in your sweaty, salt-encrusted sheets, you're forced to admit that you agree. Changes have to be made. "Less ham, that's change number one!" you announced to the shower drain, also salt encrusted. "But is there more I could do?" There is, friend. It is called exercise, and it blows. I've exercised four times in my life, and I have hated all 20 minutes of it. Fortunately for you, I've watched Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" music video 1,100 times ...

It's like the best holodeck episode ever.

... and am thus a fully qualified personal trainer, because it turns out you can just call yourself that and no one can do a thing about it. Serving in my capacity as a chair-bound fitness expert, I'm here to shed some light on the gym experience, and in particular, list some of the awful, awful people you're about to meet on your self-improvement/desalination journey, and how you should deal with them.

#7. The Grunter

As you're slowly ambling through the gym, looking for the least-intimidating piece of equipment around (it's the water fountain), you'll soon hear strange and upsetting sounds, like a man giving birth to a fully grown female tennis player.

"Yeah, because that's what we made Photoshop for." -- Adobe

That's the Grunter, the guy or girl who can't exercise without forcefully exhaling like a seal in heat. To be fair, there are some arguments in favor of grunting: Exertion is often easier when breathing out, an occasionally noisy process. Many find that the grunting is an integral part of their strength and timing, something they can't exercise without. Which would be fine if they were in the gym alone. But they're not, and a key element of the gym social contract is staying out of other people's hair. You may find the music from Conan the Barbarian to be inspirational, but that doesn't mean that everyone wants to hear you chanting "Duh-duh-Duh-DUh-Duh-DA-DA! Phwum-phwum-PHWUm-PHWUM-DA-DA-DA-PWHUMMMM. Neuu neeee neeuu neu neu neu Niiiiiiiiiiii, da-da-d-a-d-a-da-da!" while you're doing side leg raises.

Don't let that stop you from putting on the camouflage, though.

How to Deal with Him: The easiest way to deal with a Grunter is to put on headphones and listen to music, perhaps a track of you chanting the theme from Conan the Barbarian. The hardest way to deal with a Grunter is to train a bird to fly into his mouth when he's exhaling. There may be other methods in between the two extremes, but they are not worth pursuing.

#6. The Weight Belt Guy

Eventually you'll spot someone who has what appears to be a wrestling championship belt around his back.

Sadly, they don't all look like this, because the world simply isn't that magical.

This is Weight Belt Guy, and he's there to do serious weight-lifting stuff. Ideally these guys will hang out in their own gyms, where they can have conversations with other Weight Belt Guys, using complicated words like "isometric" or "set." But they will sometimes show up in regular-person gyms, which is where you'll learn to fear them. The big problem with these guys is the intimidation factor. Whether they do it deliberately or accidentally, Weight Belt Guys make going to the gym even more humiliating than it already is. When a Weight Belt Guy does something with one arm that you'd been struggling to do with both legs, you're going to feel like a piece of shit. A small, weakly built piece of shit.

How to Deal with Him: Your first instinct might be to hang out by low-impact equipment, like the used-towel hamper, until they go home. But Weight Belt Guys don't ever seem to go home. Your best bet is to exercise on a different day, or just walk around the parking lot a couple times and call that a set.

#5. The Unsolicited Advice Guy

For most of us, working out is a pretty humbling experience, as you'll discover the first time you get winded while navigating a recumbent bike's menu system. There's not an exercise or workout that can be done with an audience that wouldn't be far more comfortable being done alone. So when some magnificent asshole sidles up and tells you that you're working the wrong part of whatever limb is trembling like a leaf at the moment, you're not going to like him.

"You see? Riding the really tiny trike is way easier if you're not holding that weight."

Actually, "not liking" him is a bit weak. In truth, the second this stupendous dillhole lays his hands on you to "correct your form," you're going to want to set him on fire.

How to Deal with Him: By setting him on fire. Carry two water bottles with you during your workout -- one filled with delicious water, the other with kerosene. Squirt Unsolicited Advice Guy with kerosene and rip the power cord out of an exercise bike, bringing the two bare wires together to create first a shower of sparks, and then an obnoxious human candle. This might sound extreme, if only because of the significant property damage that will result, but it turns out gyms are prepared for and well insured for incidents like this: it's why memberships are so expensive.

#4. The Dripper

There's a good chance this person is you, so I won't be too harsh here. (There's a good chance this person is me, too.) The Dripper is the guy who, while working out, looks like a half man/half ice cream cone, like one of the X-Men who doesn't get to go on too many missions.

If your pulse rate goes up while taking your pulse, you're probably a Dripper.

The sad thing is that given its roots in the genetic and physical makeup of the subject, there's not much a Dripper can do to prevent this condition. Aside from not exercising, of course, which is a deservedly popular answer. But there are corrective steps that can be taken, and with that in mind, Drippers can be further sub-categorized into two categories: 1) Abashed Drippers, who seem slightly embarrassed about their mutant powers and discreetly mop up after themselves with towels and cleaning sprays. 2) Leaky Satans, who don't do that at all.

How to Deal with Him: Unsurprisingly, how to deal with a Dripper depends on the subtype: 1) For Abashed Drippers, there's little you need to do, other than minimize any urge you might have to wrestle with them. 2) For Leaky Satans, consult the Bible to find specific ancient rites that will ward yourself against the Beast's foul emissions. Thus protected, take a large towel and suffocate them. Shouting "The drying power of Christ compels you" while you do this will alert everyone nearby to spot you if necessary.

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Chris Bucholz

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