I have a love/hate relationship with my gym: I love what I get from working out, but man, I hate being there. My gym is a jungle.
For some reason, during the winter months, my gym allows a local high school’s girls’ crew team free rein of the facility. They overrun the locker room, hog the machines, and strut around the place gossiping with each other in their tiny shorts that are more like underwear. It immediately transports me right back to high-school phys ed, which I disliked enough the first time around.
There’s also a heap of resolutioners making the place feel crowded, and the worst of these are the men who think they’re gonna Hulk out. They select weights on the machines that they struggle to handle (which is the wrong way to work out), and it makes me nervous to see it because they’re clearly going to hurt themselves. They do like 4 reps of an inappropriate weight setting, and then they sit there for 3 or 4 minutes between sets, of which there are like 8. It’s infuriating.
Far and away the most annoying character at my gym these days is the tech addict. The people who walk around while looking at their e-mail and almost collide into me are right up there with the ones who sit for 5 minutes on the chest press machine without using the thing because they’re too busy texting. It makes me absolutely crazy to have to wait for these people to quit socializing and focus on their workouts just so I can take care of mine.
When these frustrations reach boiling point, I like to fantasize about what would happen in my perfect gym, if I made the rules. All that time I’ve spent tapping my foot waiting for a machine or giving disapproving side-eye to the hoards of high schoolers has resulted in this:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE GYM MACHINES
- THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER MACHINES BEFORE ME. Drop your freaking cell phone off in the locker room and do what the hell you came to do. Your social life can spare you for a measly hour of the day. I mean, do you suddenly start jogging or doing bicep curls in the middle of a business meeting or a date? Didn’t think so. Be where you are and stop making other people wait for you to stop distracting yourself when you should all be at the gym to work out, damn it.
- THOU SHALT NOT USE THY GYM IN VAIN. Lose the make-up, the jewelry, and the perfume/cologne. No one is impressed with how cute you look, only with how much sweat you drip with at the end of your workout. And folks would prefer it if you didn’t reek of dead flowers while working up that sweat.
- THOU SHALT COMMIT ADULTERY. As in, you must be an adult: 18 or older. Furthermore, do not come to the gym with your varsity sports team to monopolize space and fill the air with your idle chatter. Grown-ups are here, kids. Shouldn’t you be doing your homework? Go home.
- THOU SHALT NOT BOGART ME. Everyone around you paid just as much to be here as you did. Don’t be grunting and panting all over me using unrealistically heavy resistance in service of some misguided delusion that you will become brawny and muscular in a single workout. Step aside for the lady waiting for your stupid ass to finish. Or at least let her work in with you, even though that shit is hella annoying.
- THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. If someone is clearly using a machine but steps away for a moment to refill a water bottle, leave that machine alone. You know your gym comrade is coming back if they left their stuff draped on the machine. However, if they leave their stuff on a machine you’ve been waiting for for a while and they are gone for several minutes, fuck them and their presumptuous entitlement and go get your burn on. Gyms are tiny colonies of renters, and throwing your stuff on something doesn’t make you an owner. It’s a fine line, but err towards not stealing for the good of the community.
- THOU SHALT MURDER. Calories, that is. If you took one of the ellipticals with the moving arm handles and you aren’t using them, you’re wasting an opportunity to burn. If you aren’t here to murder, go use a machine without that option so that a real murderer can hit it hard.
- HONOR THY SURROUNDINGS AND EQUIPMENT. Don’t trash the locker room, and for the love of all that is holy, wipe down your sweat-drenched machine after you’re done with it. It’s a badge of honor for you, but no one else is reveling in that.
- REMEMBER THE WORKOUT SESSION AND KEEP IT HOLY. Attention all gym staff: interrupting a gym-goer’s workout to try to sell them personal training sessions is truly bad form. No one wants to talk with you when they’re out of breath from physical exertion, least of all about spending more of their money to spend time with someone who doesn’t understand that. Step the hell off. Not cool.
- THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S MACHINE. Stop looking at the screen display of the person working out next to you. It’s awkward and creepy. Eyes on your own paper, stalker.
- THOU SHALT SHAKE THY GROOVE THING. Move your body, gym-goer. Focus on getting fit and healthy, and have fun! Pump your fist when you amp it up, raise your arms over your head when you break a personal record, and whisper words of encouragement to yourself when you need to persevere. Find a way to make the process enjoyable. It’s essential to your mentality, and the positivity is contagious. Go get ’em, tiger!
Now, who wants to spot me ten thousand dollars so I can open up my utopian gym??