"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are many parts of the male anatomy that are more suitably covered by loose, draped fabrics. The lumpy bits, but also the other ones. Anything described as a "bit," in fact, should have its contours kept well away from prying eyes. But that's not acceptable to Tight Shorts Guy, whose bits' contours are going to be in your face whether your face likes it or not (it doesn't).
Now, obviously we're all in these places to look better, so it makes a certain amount of sense to take pride in your accomplishment. Like a spike after a touchdown, or a Nobel Prize acceptance dance, these little celebrations are a part of being human. But if someone's sole accomplishment is "really solid hamstrings" and their celebration makes people want to be somewhere "else," they're probably doing something wrong.
How to Deal with Him:
Being someplace else is the preferred approach, but if that's not possible (maybe you have a really bad home life), then you'll just have to stare at the ceiling. Which is unfortunate, as this neck angle can interfere with your proper lifting form and get drippings in your eyes.
Related to but subtly different from Tight Shorts Guys, these are girls in tight shorts, and they are, in many respects, fantastic.
The only downside -- and again I should point out that there are so, so many upsides -- is that they will make you forget how to breathe and you will die.
How to Deal with Her:
Focus on taking deep breaths using your abdomen. This will maximize the amount of oxygen entering your lungs, and make you look kind of like a weird frog, which will encourage Tight Shorts Girl to move away from you, removing the threat. And whatever you do, don't stare directly at a Tight Shorts Girl, lest you turn yourself into the worst type of gym villain ...
Obviously you can find Starers in many places other than the gym. There are usually about four of five of them in every Denny's, for example. But given the self-consciousness issues at play when working out, and the tight shorts that Tight Shorts Girls like to wear, Starers are at their most bothersome in the gym.
As a Dripper prone to singing the instrumental theme to Conan the Barbarian while doing Pilates, I'm used to receiving some uncomfortable stares at the gym, but the looks rarely linger. I can't imagine the hell a Tight Shorts Girl goes through when these guys are around. If only there was some enumerated Internet article that listed ways of dealing with guys like this ...
How to Deal with Him:
Well, you could always go to one of those women-only gyms, although on behalf of all the Drippers out there, I'd like to ask that you don't. Wearing less-tight clothing is another option, and will certainly minimize the chance of Dripper heart attacks.
But it could interfere with your flexibility.
The final option is to politely and confidently approach the Starer and calmly state, "Excuse me, sir, it makes me really uncomfortable when you touch yourself like that." "But I'm not touching myself at all," he'll say, truthfully. That's when you hit him in the crotch with a 10-pound kettlebell. "PERVERT!" you shout. "SOMEBODY HELP! THIS PERVERT IS PLAYING POCKET SOLITAIRE AND HE'S ABOUT TO WIN!" At that point someone, probably a Weight Belt Guy, will come grab the Starer and throw him through a mirror. It would have been a Dripper to come help, and we definitely wanted to help, but these elliptical things are a little tricky to dismount. Seriously, if you mess up getting off an elliptical thing, you may never win pocket solitaire again.
For more guides to the crappier things in life from Chris, check out The 7 Types of Holiday Fights You're About to Get In and Is Kim Kardashian an Idiot? An Objective Analysis.
For more truth, check out Cracked's You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking but Utterly True Facts
Most rich kids just want to be pop stars.
How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.