Today’s Statesman-Journal has an article about what gripes people at exercise clubs. “Smelly, grunting, nude people are top workout offenders,” says the headline.
I agree that they are offenders, but not the top. I have my own additional idiosyncratic gripes, based on many years of twice or thrice weekly visits to the aerobic and weight machine rooms of Salem’s Courthouse Athletic Club, River Road branch.
Darters, the bane of circuit training harmony. I tread on delicate ground here, because my wife herself is a darter—a weight machine user who ignores the careful scientific positioning of the equipment (legs first, then upper body, finishing with central core) and their clear numbering (1, 2, 3…etc.).
You’d think the numbers plastered on the machines would give darters a subtle clue to the order in which they should be used. Being both a Libra who seeks order and balance (in some things), and a 90% genetic German with the obsessiveness that this implies, I always take care to start with 1, the leg press, and end with 16, the trunk rotation.
Darters are always messing with my mellow. They jump around, using the machines in any order they like, not understanding that if God had wanted this to happen, numbers never would have been invented. As I rise from the seat of machine #X, carefully wiping off my sweat before moving to machine #X+1, a darter often jumps in front of me—a horrendous breach of circuit training etiquette.
I think, “Rot in hell, darter!” as I meekly mutter, “No problem, I’ll come back to this machine.”
Fox News channel changers. My inward malevolence and outward lack of assertiveness also are on display in the aerobic room, which features six flat-screen televisions tuned to various channels. Usually one of those channels is the unfair and unbalanced Fox News.
I often choose to watch it because I’m a fair and balanced progressive who likes to learn about divergent political views. However, I prefer CNN. The posted channel-changing procedure is to look around the room before altering what a television is showing, asking via a gesture and quizzical look if anyone is watching that channel.
I’ve noticed that right-wing Fox News zealots don’t adhere to that rule, probably because they, like Bush, believe that they’re above the law. Even when one television already is tuned to Fox, if they’re on a treadmill, stationary bicycle, or stair trainer where they’d have to turn their head slightly to watch their beloved wacko news channel, they will brashly walk up to the CNN set and change it to Fox.
As above, I think, “Rot in hell, conservative channel changer!” as I meekly shift my attention to the newly American-flag emblazoned screen.
Locker room bench clothes displayers. Literalist athletic club member that I am, I’ve always assumed that the lockers are where you’re supposed to keep your clothes, and the benches are where you’re supposed to sit while you’re putting on or taking off your clothes. Other guys obviously have a different understanding.
They strew their workout gear—shoes and sweaty t-shirt, shorts, socks, jock strap—along the bench while they’re taking a shower, as if they feel that this display of removable male plumage is something their fellow members would love to gaze upon as those neatniks put their own clothes into or out of a locker.
Reality check for clothes displayers: if I were able to bring a ten-foot pole into the locker room with me, I still wouldn’t use it to push your jock strap out of the place where I want to sit. Instead, I take my shoes off as far from your crap as possible, even if I have to walk a far piece to my own locker.
And yes, I’m thinking “Rot in hell!”
Buff babe weight trainers. Don’t get me wrong, you lovely young things with the toned muscles, tight lycra crop tops, painted nails, and gold jewelry. You make my circuit training workout a lot more visually enjoyable. It’s a joy to follow your lead around the machines, rather than some other aging coot. But I have a request:
Please reset the weights on the machines to the lowest setting after you’re done with them. It’s really demoralizing for me when I, a 190 pound man, have to reduce the weight on a machine that you, a 120 pound woman, have just finished using. I try to do this as surreptitiously as possible, blocking a view of the weights with my body as I grab the pin and insert it into a setting twenty pounds lower than what you were lifting.
Next time, consider the ego of the 57 year-old gray-haired guy following you in the circuit training room. Ideally, leave the weight pin dangling so I have no idea how much stronger you are than me. That way my fantasies will remain more or less intact, which, after a certain age, is about all that you have left.
Macho machine hoggers. My last gripe echoes the #1 complaint in the newspaper article: people who settle into a weight machine as if they’re planning to spend the rest of their life there. My weenie workout consists of one set of twelve repetitions on each machine. Yet I’m cool with someone who wants to do two sets on the machine that’s next in line for me.
But come on: do you have to spend all day with your amazingly intricate routine, multiple sets of varying repetitions, changing weights up and down, staring off into space while you rest for what seems like an eternity between what seems like an infinite number of sets on the one and only machine that I haven’t used yet?
The “you” I am referring to almost always is a macho guy from the free weight area who has deigned to temporarily mingle with the poseurs in the circuit training room. He stands out by dint of his black gloves, leather training belt, muscle shirt, and, most obviously, highly visible muscles—each of which characteristics distinguishes him from me and most of the other circuit training peons.
Some free weighters are gracious and polite. But I’ve noticed that others are even less considerate than darters of other members waiting to use a machine. Perhaps all of their attention is being used up by their focus on how a particular muscle group is coming along. I’m used to seeing women preen before a mirror, but I still am surprised at the sight of free weight guys doing this.
And those are my gripes. Looking through the other end of the telescope, I myself probably would appear on a gripe list of some of my fellow athletic club members. Like…
Guys who do Tai Chi on the weight room floor.