You’ve seen the lists. Every few months or so it seems to be a blogger ritual to come out with a list of the most annoying people in the gym. And they’re pretty funny because, hey, who hasn’t been confronted with Grunting He-Man or Cell Phone Barbie? But really the annoying people are a drop in the proverbial sweat bucket. Most of the people in the gym are at a minimum polite, and many more are just generally all around awesome. It’s no coincidence that upon moving to a new city I often make my best friends at the gym.
Charlotte’s Top Ten Favorite Gym People
10. Neatniks. What with CMRSA, yeast infections and bodily fluids, I can really appreciate a conscientious washer. Today, for instance, when I climbed on the elliptical it was soaking wet. My initial reaction was to recoil with horror and scream “Who was just on this thing?” My friend reassured me, “It’s just J. He bathed it in antiseptic when he was done.” No measly squirt-squirt and cursory wipe for J. Nope, he cleaned that thing good for me.
9. People Who Re-Rack Their Weights. (And put away their yoga mats, Pilates rings, jump ropes and dumbbells.) I spend a considerable amount of time cleaning up after the Three Messiest People Alive (a.k.a my children) at home. It is refreshing to go to the gym with people who all pick up after themselves. It’s especially nice when a heavy duty lifter has six 45-lb plates stacked on each side of the bar and yet is still humble enough to take them off and re-rack them himself rather than taking his entertainment from watching Gym Buddy Allison and I struggle with them.
8. Personal Trainers. I should add “Who Aren’t In It For the Money” but because I workout at the Y that is pretty much the only kind we have there. MizFit and Kelly T spoil us with their free no-six-week-package-strings-attached advice but they are rare in the real fitness world. Most trainers guard their secrets like celebrities guard their plastic surgeons. And yet there are always a few at every gym who will give you tips here and there, correct your form or give you a new workout idea. Because they want to see people get healthy more than they care about getting paid for it.
7. The Handicapped People. There are a lot of handicapped folks at my gym. Yes sometimes they make funny noises or inadvertently get in the way but these end up being some of the best examples of fitness I’ve ever met. They work so hard. They keep trying. And quite often are always smiling. There is one boy at my gym whose enthusiasm and tenacity make the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders look quiet and reserved. Every time I see him he grins – both to show me how happy he is just to be here and also to show me the new colors he got on his braces.
6. The Smiling Folk. I get it. Workouts are serious stuff. I don’t want mindless prattle any more than the next person. But a quick smile and nod can go a long way as far as encouragement is concerned. It’s nice to know that other people are happy to be there. Or that even if they just finished an excruciating set of reverse pec-dec flys they can still smile through the pain. It’s the human connection. If I wanted to workout completely alone I’d have a weight bench in my basement.
5. The Quirky Folk. The Asperger’s girl who brings 50 beanie babies to Yoga class and then lines them up around her mat like a twee beady-eyed audience. The gentleman who walks around the track swinging his arms as if caught in a perpetual gnat storm. The stock broker who yells “Oh YEAH, baby” whilst doing bicep curls. The old lady who sings along – loudly – to her vintage Walkman. The teen who cries and runs away if you hit or throw any kind of ball to her, but still insists on participating in every pick-up game there is. The girl who swings by her knees from the chin up bar and is always doing something crazy with the weights. Oh wait, that’s me. Sure we can be annoying but honestly, the elliptical would be borrrring without us. Admit it.
4. The Cleaning Crew. One of our janitors recently left the Y for a best job. I almost cried. Really. Besides always high-fiving my boys and helping me practice my Spanish, S has even made a special visit to Zumba just to help me with my latin moves. The janitorial crew are the ones who have to mop 27 times a day in the winter to get all the slush and salt off the floor so the rest of us don’t slip and turn an ankle (we save that kind of fun for Step class). They are the ones who clean the toilets after it looks like an intestinal WWIII has taken place. In fact, there are so many little ways that they make my life easier and my workouts safer that I can’t even list them all. Plus, they save my kids bagels when the Y hands them out free to the Senior Citizens.
3. Group Fitness Instructors. There are the ones who just punch their time card or are there to promote whatever crazy fitness scheme they are selling (or occasionally the attention-seeking megalomaniacs but we’ll save them for another post) but more often you find the ones who pour blood, sweat and tears into their classes – hopefully more of the sweat and less of the other two but I’ve seen it all. Like Turbo Jennie, they care more about their students than the fact that after they pay for their own training, their hourly rate is probably in the negative digits.
2. The Childcare Staff. My kids have barfed, pooped, colored, and peed on the childcare workers at my gym and yet they still great my children with open arms and huge smiles. They put up with me when I’m a tad late. They listen attentively to my 6-year-old explaining his almost-loose tooth for 10 minutes. They give me tips and tricks that they have learned from working with all kinds of kids over the years. And they truly love my kids. People often ask how I find the time to work out every day with 3 tiny kids. The answer is these guys.
1. All the Helpful People. Whether they are employees, fellow gym rats or first timers, I am always so grateful for the people who take the time to help. Sometimes it’s a quiet but firm offer of a spot from a stranger. Sometimes it’s the loan of a t-shirt when I’ve got spit-up on mine. Other times it’s just a listening ear on the treadmill when I’m having a bad day. Or a fitness instructor who shows up injured rather than cancel the class and disappoint. It’s people who pick up other people’s garbage or mop up leftover sweat. It’s the folks who save a magazine article for two weeks for you because it’s “perfect for that internet thingy you do” or turn both your weight gloves into the lost and found. It’s the people who hold the door open for me or give me a thumbs up when I’m sprinting or scooch over when I come into class late. It’s the Gym Buddies. It’s all the people who go out of their way for a near-stranger and expect nothing in return.
Thank you, all. I couldn’t do this without you.
So who is your fave person at the gym? Has someone ever done something seemingly small that made a huge difference to you? What kind of stealth-helpful things do you guys do?
PS> Yeah, I know that title makes it sound like I have multiple personality disorder but rest assured, my crazy is of a different sort.