Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gym Personas

Over the course of my twenties, my workout habits have varied widely. There have been times when I spent 30+ minutes on the elliptical every night, I went through an intense, at-home yoga period, and then there have been the do-nothing-but-sit-on-the-couch phases. I joined my current gym about six months ago and go on most weekdays, with week long breaks on occasion for thesis writing, social commitments and general laziness.

About a month ago, I had a wellness assessment at work “just for fun” and discovered that my body fat percentage is way higher than I would like (on the bright side, my cholesterol is only 127). In a panic, I asked my health assessor/colleague the best way to reduce my body fat. When I told her I do about 30 minutes of cardio three or four days a week, with some resistance training after, she told me I need to up my trips to the gym to five or six per week, with 45 to 60 minutes of cardio AND a boost in my resistance training.

It’s taken me some time, but I’m now fairly comfortable ellipticalling for an hour at a time and, since my gym has a personal TV for each cardio machine, I can channel surf until I find something motivating to watch (helpful hint: the food network doesn’t work). However, at times I prefer to people watch, a timeless favorite of gym-goers everywhere, I’m sure. Today I want to share with you some favorites of mine:

Petite Runner Chick – A staple in gyms world-wide, this cute-as-a-button daily runner typically sets the treadmill at a quick pace and sticks to it forEVER. She rarely lifts weights, which makes me wonder if she’s an endorphin junkie. She’s not disgustingly skinny, but thin and in good shape. Not much fun to watch.

Old Weightlifter Man – This man is either in his mid-50s or in his late-40s and not aging well. He has thinning hair that sticks straight up and wears a tank top, you know, the kind with arm holes that go all the way down to his wrinkly, gross waist, and too short running shorts. He hangs out in the free weight area, but come to think of it, I’ve never seen him actually lift any weights... hmm...

The Gym Rat – Not much to say about these, we’ve all seen them. They spend a set amount of time on the treadmill, switch to the elliptical and hang out there for awhile and then switch the stairmaster. They are way too skinny and I just want to feed them a piece of toast.

Bodybuilder Guy – This guy is in his late-twenties or early thirties and is ALWAYS at the gym. He does five or ten minutes on the treadmill to warm up and then hits the free weights hard. He has big, bulging muscles (overcompensating perhaps?) and can lift those really big dumbbells that I used to wonder what kind of person actually used those?? His neck is nearly non-existent and is always talking to his fellow bodybuilder guys about sports or protein powder.

Lazy Old Lady Walker – This older woman gets on the treadmill, sets it for about .5 mph and strolls along while browsing through a magazine. Clearly, she subscribes to the theory that just being within the four walls of the gym will improve your cardiovascular health, burn more calories, etc. I swear I saw her chewing gum while “working out” one day. A variation on this character is the woman who locks her elbows and desperately holds herself up on the stairmaster or elliptical while her legs move faster than the speed of light. Super muscular legs, but probably not quite doing much for overall fitness...

Weird Office Guy – I think this guy is unique to my gym, although my workout buddy is convinced I made him up. He shows up every night around 5:45 (my workout buddy arrives after 6, if at all :) ), wearing what looks like a business suit only without the jacket or tie. No joke, the guy is wearing slacks with creases down the front, a button down shirt, loafers and BLACK SOCKS!!! He heads straight to the weight machine area, you know, the circuit one, puts down his backpack, does a couple reps on a couple of machines and then he disappears!! I have no idea how, but I never see him leave. I’m fascinated by this one, I only wish he provided me with more than five minutes of entertainment during my own, totally normal, workout.


Kathy J said...

Old tank top man is my favorite. I told Dana that I don't think any man (even those with nice arms) should ever wear tank tops outside the comfort of their own home - ESPECIALLY the kind where the hole extends past the armpit area. Since that time we've surveyed many female friends who, to his surprise, have all agreed! Good times...

Aaron said...

Ah...Petite Runner Chick!

By the way, still haven't seen Weird Office Guy!