What is it with the gym?
As a 30-year-old woman, I’ve been to my fair share of health clubs over the years – and each and every one has had the same cast of characters. No matter what state I’m living in – and no matter what my age – the people at the gym are eerily similar. It’s both comforting and creepy, all at once.
First, there’s the Plastic Woman Who Exercises Five Hours A Day: When you arrive at the gym, you furtively glance at her machine. Her treadmill already reads 90 minutes completed. She leaves shortly after you arrive, only to return an hour later for Round Two.
She wears Victoria’s Secret yoga pants with “PINK” written in bold letters across her butt and a charm bracelet on her dainty wrist. She turns the television to “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” mesmerized during her workouts, giggling to herself. If she’s not watching TV, she’s chatting on her cell phone: loudly.
She looks a little plastic, like she’s had work done: maybe her nose, maybe liposuction on her thighs. She’s definitely augmented her boobs. She leaves her long hair extensions down during her workout, and she sports perfectly painted makeup as she barely breaks a sweat. She’s a cross between beauty pageant contestant and one-woman workout machine.
Next, there’s the Smelly Old Guy Who Farts Incessantly: And of course, he hops onto the treadmill next to you! Every. Single. Time. As if it isn’t bad enough that this 80-year-old chap has a serious gas problem, he also stares at you like you’re Mary Magdalene in the flesh — his mouth hanging open, saliva dripping onto the treadmill below him, almost tripping his frail, white, skinny legs. You try to focus on CNN’s breaking news report on the television mounted above you, avoiding his eyes at all costs.
There’s also the Sweet-Talking Middle-Aged Man Who Tries to Chat You Up. First, you catch him gazing at you from across the gym. You quickly look away. Next thing you know, he’s standing by your treadmill, grinning.
“What’s your name? I see you here all the time,” he cooes, flashing you a smile with browning, crooked teeth.
You mutter your name, and try to emphasize the wedding band on your left hand as you push your sweaty bangs off your face.
Other honorable mentions in this campy cast of characters? The genuinely ripped Body Builder Woman, who grunts just as loudly as the genuinely ripped Body Builder Man. They’re both personal trainers at the gym. They both seem to have a disproportionate amount of muscle. They each scare the sh*t out of you. You make sure to only use weight machines that are safely situated out of their grunting zones.
And then there’s the Lovey-Dovey Workout Couple, who run together in matching gray sweats, lift weights together, and who break for sloppy kisses in between reps. (Puke.) There’s also the Woman Walking Around the Locker Room Naked, showcasing her cellulite like a trophy, as you duck in for a quick bathroom break. (Double-puke.)
Back out in the gym, there’s the Skinny Antisocial Nerd Dude with Glasses, who’s desperately trying to bulk up. You go out of your way to sing a cheerful “hello” to him whenever you meet his self-conscious eyes.
Skinny nerd dude, as well as the Overweight Lady Who’s Uber-Dedicated to Losing Inches are the only two in the gym who don’t intimidate you. She’s there day in, and day out, quietly huffing and puffing on the elliptical machine. And you literally see her hard work paying off: the pounds are melting off her chubby frame.
Then there’s you: the Normal 30-Something Woman, who wears mismatched workout clothes – who isn’t fat, but isn’t thin. Who puts in a genuine effort, but who doesn’t kill herself as she treks on the treadmill, iPod in hand, listening to indie bands. You’re the woman who’s there to burn stress more than calories – who’s there to gain writing material more than muscle. And frankly, in a cast this peculiar, you’re more than happy being you.