Is the Gym Your Social Den?
There are a lot of people that think the gym is a place to socialize, catch up with friends, and even find a date. Personally, I go to the gym and zone out while I concentrate on the goals I have set for myself both physically and mentally in the weight room. I totally clear my mind of everything and anything going on in my life as I work out any aggression or frustrations that I have bottled up inside me. For that hour or two that I am in the gym working out, I am content, I have no worries, no anxiety, it may be the only ‘me’ time I get that whole day. So you could say when someone uses the gym as their social playground it bothers me and there are a number of different types of people who do this.
The first type sits at the same machine for 30 minutes either talking to a buddy or some girl that they are trying so desperately to impress while I am waiting patiently to use that piece of equipment. I like to call these people “The Oms”. An om is another word for a super talkative person that will not shut up. The Oms will sit at a machine or some piece of equipment while he or she is talking to someone. If you ask The Om politely if they are done or if they are still using the machine they will give whoever they are talking to some kind of look as to say “Wow, is this meathead really interrupting our conversation?” They will then usually give the same answer in a very rude tone of voice which is “No I am not finished, but you can jump in”. In my head I think GREAT!, but no I do not want to jump in and keep changing weights and have to listen to your conversation nor am I moving on to the next exercise and ruining my workout routine while you sit here and carry on with some pointless conversation. Oms must realize that once you have waited at most approximately 8-10 minutes before beginning your next set the blood is already leaving your muscle and the muscle is beginning to repair itself. So waiting that long is only defeating the purpose and actually causing more harm then good. Do us both a favor and continue your conversation outside of the gym because your workout is already over.
I believe that many of us have most likely encountered this next type of person; I like to refer to him as “The Pest”. The Pest comes into the gym solely to ruin your workout while he tries to gain helpful hints and information. He will roam the gym aimlessly searching out the person whom is most fit while never even glancing at a weight of any kind. Once The Pest finds his victim he will begin to look around frantically as if to be confused all the while making sure the victim sees him before he finally jumps on the closest machine or weight bench possible. After doing only one set of the lightest possible weight, he has built the courage to finally begin interrogating his victim. It will usually start with one of two questions, “How long have you been lifting” or “What is a good exercise for a certain body part”. After you give him a very short answer and try to continue your workout he begins complimenting you on your physique and will make it very obvious that you are his idol and that he wishes to one day look just like you. Once you say “thank you” it is all over! He has now got you exactly where he wants you. He has established that he admires and looks up to you and he knows that if you are even the least bit nice that you will feel bad not answering his 300 million questions that he is about to ask you. He will even request that you tell him a 7 day a week workout and meal plan on the spot. Before you know it an hour has passed, your workout ruined, and you just gave a free personal training session, but without the actual training. Pest if you are out there reading this please do not bug people while they are trying to workout. Either hire a personal trainer, buy a book, or you can even look up exercises and diets online. Unless we are working and being paid for it, we are not at the gym to give advice.
I have read a few surveys that say about 35% of people join a gym as a way to pick up men or women! WHAT?!?!?! This seems so ridiculous to me! It is unreal how many times I have heard on television, radio, and read in magazines that the gym is a great place to find a date or meet people of the opposite sex. Now men do this way more often then women do. Most men will look for any opportunity to try and pick up a girl and will even pay a monthly gym membership so he has one more place that he can try and find a date. Now personally I think the gym is the MOST awkward place to try and pick up a girl or get a number. She is sweating, probably not feeling her prettiest and most likely does not want to be bothered. It seems to me that equals a much larger possibility of rejection. I like to call the guys that do this “The Stranos”. Stranos is basically Italian for something or someone that is strange or weird. These are the same guys that are at the bar looking for the drunkest girl possible to hit on or has a profile on a bunch of different match making websites. He is desperate, needs attention, and is looking for a date at the gym because he has already tried picking up every girl that goes out to the local bars and clubs. What girls are not at the bar or club every weekend? The same girls that care about their body and take care of themselves. They spend their time at the gym and The Stranos know this. The Stranos all of a sudden have a new playing field where no girl knows how much of a loser they really are. You can find The Stranos hanging around the cardio equipment waiting to jump on a machine right next to their victim. They usually are not going that hard and I have heard from a few girls that some may start off by talking about a sport injury that they are supposedly trying to recover from. They will tell any lie possible and this one is smart because they now have a conversation starter and a reason why they are gasping for air after 5 minutes of light cardio. Now if The Stranos has made a mistake by hitting on a girl that is really hardcore about her workouts, she might blow him off right away. Now he has no chance of getting a date and is stuck on that cardio machine unless he does not mind looking like a complete douche and immediately getting off after being rejected. But, some girls actually fall for this and after he has convinced her that he has a lot of money and is really popular, she will give him her number. Just remember this STRANOS, one day when I or some guy like me has a girlfriend and she is upstairs doing cardio while we are lifting and we see and know what you are doing, you will then learn the hard way why it is not the best idea to hit on girls in the gym.
Now this next guy is very VERY tricky and has tricked me many times and that is why I will simply refer to him as “The Trickster”. By now you know that I do not believe that the gym is a social den and this is why I do not have a workout partner. Many times workout partners will do a lot of talking and distract you from the task at hand. It is also very hard for me to have ‘me’ time if I am working out with somebody. Therefore once in a while I will have to ask a complete stranger for a quick spot on a heavy set. Now I do this and think that it is completely fine, I make sure to ask them right when they finish with their set and begin my set as soon as they are there so I do not waste their time. The set is over and they go back to their workout and I proceed with mine. Some people “The Tricksters” take advantage of this and may end up ruining it for the rest of us. These are the people who will ask you for a spot, strike a conversation, and then follow you when you go back to your workout and look to spot you. You may think that they are trying to be nice and although you did not ask for a spot that they just wanted to come do it because you just did it for them. NO!!!! Do not be fooled, this is all a part of their trick. All of a sudden one spot becomes a second and then this person is following you from machine to machine, bench to bench, squat rack to squat rack, and before you know it you have a brand new workout partner. Listen Tricksters, no I do not mind giving people a QUICK emphasize QUICK spot. What I do mind is you thinking that we are now workout partners for the rest of the time that I am there. I have plenty of friends, plenty of friends that workout. If I wanted a workout partner it would not be hard for me to find one but, I do not have one for a reason and that reason is because this is ‘me’ time and not ‘me and some stranger’ time.
There is even a group of people that act like cattle as they herd around the trough or in this case the front desk of the gym. “The Cattle” of the gym world sit, crowd, and socialize right where everyone is trying to get their protein drinks. I use to enjoy having someone make me a flavorful, cold, delicious protein drink as I was leaving the gym. The Cattle have ruined this for me. Most gyms are to blame also because they put stools and chairs right in front of the area one must go to order a protein drink. This has literally turned gyms into a bar like atmosphere because these people will sit at their stools gossiping with each other and the staff. Some of the people did not even work out or wear gym clothes, but just came in to have a protein drink and chat. Excuse me while I squeeze my way by you to get a drink (a protein drink). The gyms are trying to make it a more social (bar) like atmosphere, I do not get it. This is not a bar, why are these people sitting here drinking protein drinks like they are going to get rock hard solid muscle by taking in 40 grams of protein and 400 calories without working out. They obviously do not know that by drinking this and not working out that it is going to eventually turn into fat, not muscle. The Cattle would be better off by choosing a healthier choice and going to an actual bar and having one alcoholic beverage that is approximately 100 calories instead of the 400 calorie protein drink. Do these people use their head at all or are they really this ignorant that they actually believe because they are drinking a protein drink that they are being healthy? It amazes me how ignorant some people can be. The only positive is that I am saving a lot more money now just making protein drinks myself at home, but it would still be nice to be able to get one at the gym once in a while without people trying to pull me into a conversation thus keeping me at the gym even longer when I need to get home. Hey Cattle go be a bit healthier meet up at a bar and have a beer so someone that actually works out can get a protein drink!
Now there is also always going to be the people you know or think they know you and will come up and bother you no matter what you do, but for the most part it is not hard to tell those people that you are in a rush or to walk away without seeming like a total jerk. The people that work at the gym will also bother you; they are bored and just looking to pass the time by wasting yours. You almost feel obligated to be nice to them because you have to see them almost every time you go in there. All of these people including the two just mentioned make it really hard for people like me to go to the gym and use it for how it is meant to be used. To get a good workout one must not spend too much time between sets socializing. You see it all the time; people stopping in the middle of their workout to talk for 20 minutes and then continue to workout after they are done. That is not how it works; you can not stop for that long and then just get right back into it afterwards. It makes me frustrated when I see people at the gym talking all the time and then have to listen to them complain by saying “I don’t know why I am not seeing any results, I am at the gym for an hour and a half every day”. You are not seeing results because you are talking for 45 minutes and it is usually right in the middle of your workout!!!! The television, the radio, and magazines even tell us that the gym is a great place to socialize and meet people. I say no it is not and believing this concept is only one of many reasons why Americans are considered fat and out of shape when compared to other nations. About 60% of Americans are considered overweight. Most go to the gym, but spend most of their time there socializing. I have tried to be nice, make excuses, and even be completely honest and tell people that I do not like to talk at the gym nor do I like taking a lot of time between sets because it totally ruins what I am trying to accomplish and why I am there to begin with. They simply do not understand or will forget by the next day and begin to bug you the very next time they see you there. The only solution I have come up with that gets most people to leave you alone at the gym is to come off as being a “jerk”, “stuck up”, “psycho”, or “unsocial”. I put my earphones in (even if my ipod is completely dead and off), put on the meanest look I can, and make sure that I do not make any eye contact. You have to act that way every single day, you give in and be nice and social one day then people will think it is okay to tap you on the shoulder and bug you every day. If you decide to act this way at the gym then it is inevitable that people will say those things about you behind your back of course, but it is up to you to decide what is more important to you. Do you want to go to the gym and achieve your goals both mentally and physically, but be called a jerk, psycho, unsocial, etc. . . by people that you really do not care about? Or, do you want to make everyone happy and be a social butterfly, but not see any improvements in the way you look and feel? In today’s society those are your two options when joining a public gym! The choice is yours. Is the gym your social den?
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