Gym: The epicenter of awkward

Why does a guy feel comfortable striking up a conversation in the locker room at the gym?  Does he know I couldn’t care less of his work or kids?  Can’t I just get a little private time in my infinitely hectic life?  After all, we’re trying to release our stress at the gym, right?  Recently visiting the gym, I fell victim to one of these gym clowns.  A regular with plenty of opinions and not much of a workout.  He sees the gym as a social environment.  To this, I strongly disagree.  Especially on this day.  From the information given, you may accuse me of being antisocial.  Call me a jerk.  Call me a pariah.

Let me finish the story: As he is telling me about his son’s 4th grade basketball game (that’s all I gathered during the conversation), I’m strategically averting my eyes from his pale naked body.  The ole birthday suit.  I was a sweaty mess and ready to wrap a towel around my waist to prepare for my shower.  I just wanted to enjoy a workout to my favorite music, catch a fresh shower and head home to cook dinner for me and my wife.  Yet, this gentleman was unavoidable.  The inevitable conversation delayed my aforementioned schedule, and subsequently decided to act deaf while entering and exiting the gym for the remainder of my membership.  Why?  Because the guy was flipping  awkward.

Please tell me your scorn has morphed to empathy…

With that anecdote top of mind, I racked my memory for other moments of awkward that drove me crazy over the years.  Allow me to share a few I’ve discovered:

1. Wait your turn.  When on a machine, I focus to properly conducting the instructed exercise (per the model – keep it easy).  I’ll be in the middle of my set and in the corner of my eye (iPod will be on), I see a guy trying to move into the machine.  He gives me an apologetic “Hi, sorry to bother, will you be done soon?” while pointing at the machine and acting like a monkey.  I take out my earbud and say, “Last set.”  But I’m in the middle of my second of four sets.  I don’t know what else to say because I don’t want to be a jerk.  The result?  I hurry the last set half-assed, allowing the loiterer prevail in conquering the machine without a mix of words.  The worst part: I can’t go back to that machine – I finished my set.  I’m the dipstick here.

2. You caught me.  So, there is an attractive gal working out on the eliptical.  Good for her, getting a good sweat on and keeping that firm body…well, firm.  I commend her commitment and loathe myself for thinking these things in the brief moment I stare at her buttocks.  Aaaand, I just got caught.  Quickly, I glance to the left or right, whichever has a TV featuring Stuart Scott and the BOO-YA! Network.  Yes, I stared.  Guilty.  And ladies, if you’re reading, we all do it.  All the time.  Not with a lusting, stalkerish eye.  Far from it.  We can’t fight our nature.  Can I argue we simply admire the artwork that is the female body?

3. Let’s race!  Here is the lineup: One girl, two guys to her right.  All on the treadmill.  You are on the far right.  You notice the gentleman to your left is jogging at a higher rate.  Let’s press our “Up” button a couple of notches to keep pace and eventually run 0.4 MPH faster.  You’re real proud of yourself.  Then he increases his pace, shooting wildly past yours.  Then you match.  He raises.  You call, trying to expose his bluff.  And the cock fight is under way!

4. Quality over quantity is better, right?  No one is ever counting at the gym, unless it’s a trainer working with one of the members.  With that, you grab the 35 LB dumbbells and shoot that cute blonde a glance in the mirror, saying, “Yeah, I can hold my own.”  Then Arnold walks up and grabs two 65 LB dumbbells to lift with his eyelids.  What a bastard!  That blonde shoots you a glance, saying, “Well, at least you’re trying.”  You can only say so much with a glance.  “Hey, I’m focused on reps and want to build strength, not muscle mass!” doesn’t really transmit properly.  Oh well…

5. Wait, am I doing this right??  Trainers walk around the gym like Knights of the Round Table – Stoic, honorable, fit and with all the information to give you a better body (at a price).  I’ve worked on numerous machines, working my back, arms, legs and core.  I have no idea what I am doing beyond what the little purple man in the diagram shows.  I like to think I know what I am doing and usually exhale a couple of grunts so the people in the gym know I’m busting my tail (I’m really good at fake grunts).  A trainer will walk by with a stink eye as I’m going through my reps.  Wait, did I do this right?  Am I harming my body by using this machine in this particular way?  Help me!  I can’t pay you, but help me!  Ah, screw it, finish the set.  Let the physical deformity happen later…

I’ve shared several of my gym awkward-capades.  Please share yours!  I’m sure there are plenty more to examine…


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  • "Stink eye"? "Reps"? You're giving my vocabulary a workout.

  • Trying my best to sound official with the gym terms.

    Stink eye is standard, isn't it? A look given by a human being while making a face of disgust - Dictionary of David

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    The "Wait your turn" comment is right on. It's annoying when guys come up and ask you that and then proceed to stand and wait till you're done. If you can't figure out something else to do while you're waiting then maybe you should get a trainer. That not only screws up my workout, but theirs too! I feel like I have to hurry up and finish what I'm doing when they're standing their spectating, I should charge! There are multiple ways to achieve the same muscle workout at the gym! Figure it out man!

  • Well, there was that time when Nature called (on line 2), and I abruptly left the treadmill, which was running at 8.5, while I ran at 12.0 to the bathroom. When I returned some 5-10 minutes later to turn off the treadmill . . . well, that was awkward.

  • In reply to samlawyer:

    I'm sorry to hear these things...

  • The thing that you just offer is value our case and the force.
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  • I am also like the same of you. Every time I just try to help other in the gym.Because it can give me more pleasure to help other. I share my different experience with my gym mates.Also try to listen their story which is give me pleasure.It's a great place to refresh my mind.

  • Hi David,

    I recently moved to a new gym where they've got TRX cables, and I was demonstrated a few exercises where you have your ankles in the grips and then do pushups and crunches and whatnot.

    The first time around, a coach was there to help me get my feet into those grips. The second time I had to do it all by myself, and boy oh boy was I fumbling like an idiot. I could not get myself in there for the life of me!

    Thankfully nobody was watching because everybody just seemed to be minding their own business. I still felt like a fool though.



  • Gyms are the only place from where we can lose our extra fats and improve our body fitness. Therefore, we need to visit the gym regular basis and get the help of a trainer to improve our stamina and workout process. Apart from these we should get help from our fellow members in the gym regarding fitness tips and exercise instructions. In this way, we may also improve a sweet bonding with them.
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