Beware the Gym Jerks

Space invaders, phone addicts, sweat hogs and MVPs

Gyms can be a test of tolerance more than a test of stamina.

Our workout spots strain the amount of bad behavior we can tolerate to get that endorphin high (and burn a few calories). On nearly every visit, we’re challenged to stretch our patience and flex our forgiveness between those bouts of bicep building.

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Here are some of the characters you may find at your local gym that give forbearance its biggest workout:


The MVP — Or so he thinks. There’s always that guy who struts around the gym as if he’s a star quarterback who just led his team to a state championship. He operates under the assumption that he who has the best pecs wins. He’s vanity on steroids (maybe literally). Think of him as decorum-challenged. He doesn’t care if he leaves pools of sweat on the equipment.

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Yogi Priestess

Yoga Priestess — Or so she wants to be. She’s the high school snob who’s grown up, but only a bit. If there’s such a thing as posture that’s too perfect, that’s this girl. The priestess also looks like she has no pores. Plus, she’s territorial, staking out her real estate in an exercise class as if she signed a long-term lease. You’re made to feel like a trespasser if you accidentally plop your yoga mat down in her spot.

Phone Addict

The Phone Addict — Or maybe it should be “phone addicts with hearing problems.” Why else do they have to talk so loudly on their cells, often shrieking things like: “You didn’t? That’s crazy! Love you!” It’s inexplicable why they don’t seek out some privacy for their private conversations. Makes you want to say, “Excuse me, you’re in an exercise class, try exercising by walking 20 steps to the front door.”

Attractive young woman touches her toes while sitting on an exercise mat at the gym. Vignetting on the corners. Horizontal shot.

The Space Invaders — Or the “what’s yours is mine” guy. They do their stretches in the middle of the gym’s most congested  areas, oblivious that they’re blocking traffic. A sub-set is the Sicko Space Invaders. They show up to work out with a hacking cough, oblivious to the fact that they’re jeopardizing your health by turning the room into a petri dish of infection. You don’t have to be a germaphobe to be grossed out.

small talkers

The Small Talkers — Or the “Can we talk?” girl. Conversation, not cardio, spikes her adrenalin. It doesn’t matter if you make it clear you’re in the zone and aren’t looking to chat, they’ll find a reason to engage you. Their strategy is to start off with an innocuous question and then work their way up to asking for advice. Before you know it, you’ve become their designated shrink. “I have no idea” is your best exit. That goes double for “small talker” guys with creepy stalker potential. Flee.

But you shouldn’t let these gym criminals push you out of your workout spot. If you skip the gym, you’ll lose out on a chance to improve your adaptability skills — and we all need them. Have you been to an airport recently? Learning to cope is especially important for those of us who tend to operate as self-contained units.

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Plenty of people are getting really good at being more productive with less personal interaction. As a result, we lose our immunity to idiots. Gyms force you to develop coping skills, which is much more important than developing your muscles. And sometimes, you even have to step up and confront the evil: “Hey, dude, how about you wipe you sweat of this, eh?” Not fun, but sometimes necessary — and another good skill to exercise now and then.

That said, Purell, Neosporin, and an iPod with a really good Spotify playlist should never be left at home. And don’t forget to pack your patience, too.

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