Ten People That Annoy Gym Owners (And Everyone Else)
Back in the day, most of us went to the gym to get away from annoying people. Now you have to leave the gym to escape them.
I'm a gym owner and a lifelong lifter. If you're annoyed by certain people at the gym, the owner probably is too. Few things are more annoying than people who are selfish, inconsiderate, and entitled. And as a gym owner, I see it all. It's particularly annoying if it negatively effects my pocketbook or ability to provide the very best for my members.
Not everything is an annoyance though; context matters. Curls in the squat rack? It's perfectly fine to do that when the gym is dead and there isn't a squatter in sight. But it becomes annoying when you do them in the only squat rack the gym has during prime hours when someone else wants to actually squat.
People behaving badly with poor hygiene, who abuse equipment, steal pins and dumbbells, harass other members, and otherwise insult my business... these things are not just irritating to gym goers, they're costly and lead to a public complaint, which means I'll have to assuage someone on Facebook until whatever it is can be repaired or replaced (at my expense).
These are the people who cause the most frustration. If you do this stuff, at least you'll know how it comes off and what you look like to the rest of us.
1 – The Dumbbell Collector
This lifter sets up a bench in front of the dumbbell rack and then surrounds it with every single dumbbell he plans to use for the next foreseeable future. And then he leaves it all there once he's done.
Who's the usual culprit? A doofus doing drop sets of seated rear delt-trap-neck things that no one has ever seen or heard of, but you can tell it's just wrong. It would be forgivable if it weren't so selfish. Newsflash: Other people want to train with dumbbells too; you don't get to keep tabs on all of them.
2 – The Squatter
Not the one training legs, but "squatter" as in moving in and occupying an area to which he has no legal right of ownership.
Squatters are usually freighted with gym bags that hold several meals, water jugs, two different kinds of lifting belts, four different kinds of wraps, chalk, straps and towels. Anyone parking that much stuff is likely going to be camping out for a while.
The location they move into determines your level of annoyance. For me, it's the leg press. The gym where I train in the US has one singular leg press. I almost feel guilty training on it by myself whenever I get lucky enough to use it.
But if I really want it, I've got to plan my entire workout around a certain couple's schedule, otherwise it's not going to happen. These two move in, unload their luggage and stroll through 15 sets each, changing the weight every turn for each other, because he's doing like 260 and she's doing 90 pounds. To make matters worse, they're super-setting with a seated calf machine, which also needs to be loaded, unloaded, then reloaded. So, for the better part of an hour, no one else gets the leg press.
And how about the "squatters" who squat? In some gyms the shortage of squat racks causes such touchy situations that if you get in line during prime hours and you're intent on doing curls in there, the resulting homicide would be justified. Time in the rack is a valuable commodity. If you're lucky enough to get it, don't waste it being an inconsiderate douche.
But there are those who have no problem claiming a squat rack. Just picture a Saturday morning; the gym is packed almost to the fire code infraction level. In strut a jacked up Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Michelin Man, looking for a squat rack. Not only a squat rack, but also a flat bench, so they can sit while wrapping their prodigious knees.
It's always just assumed that bigger dudes get away with more shit in the gym, so for them getting ahead of the racquet ball players isn't an issue. These two never have to wait long for a rack. But if YOU want to use it? Come back in an hour or two, minimum.
3 – The Stinker
No one really expects you to smell like roses at the gym, but we shouldn't have to tolerate rancid BO or flatulence that could make an onion cry. There's almost nothing worse than someone reeking of BO, or ripping farts, when you're gasping for breath during a hard set.
Sure, most of us are guilty of accidentally wearing a funky shirt. But when we notice we smell bad, we do what we can to hide it, or go home and change, or find a way to distance ourselves.
Stinkers seem to do the opposite. They're in love with their stench and are so free-spirited that they want to share it with everyone else. It either comes from not washing their clothes or their body, re-wearing clothes that got sweaty without getting washed, sweaty feet, or plain old flatulence.
Stinking up the gym is an annoyance that has to be addressed. It's a distraction to those who need to train. And, in my gym, guess who gets to tell the offending member that there are complaints about his smell? You want to talk about an awkward conversation.
4 – The Naked Old Man In The Locker Room
I'm not discriminating because younger guys just don't do this sort of thing. But old men are shameless! I don't know what it is about them, but they want to make sure their hairy anus is as visible to as many people as possible, and will bend themselves into contorted positions drying themselves off to prove it.
Now, these are the same guys who, out on the gym floor, can barely walk! They shuffle around with walkers, canes, crutches, scooters, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks... they can hardly move, let alone bend over to pick up a handle without grabbing on to something. But in the locker room you see more starfish than at the beach! With one foot up on a bench and nothing to hold onto but a towel, these guys are more flexible than Jean-Claude Van Damme!
I found one at my gym who used the hand dryer on his balls. He'd get a chair under it, then prop one foot up, and bend himself into the best position to get his crotch lined up with the air so he could dry his balls. This is problematic, not just because of the image I can't un-see, but because when he burns out my hand dryer, I'll have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new one.
This scenario isn't unique to my gym. You walk into the locker room at any LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, or local health club at 11 in the morning and you're walking straight into a hairy old anus convention.
5 – The Marker
These are people who will occupy three or four pieces of equipment and mark their territory with a towel at one station, their gym bag and some straps at another, a sweaty shirt at another, and so on. They're doing some kind of circuit during prime time and want to reserve their spots with an assortment of odd clothing, grimy towels, and personal crap.
I can understand leaving a towel on a bench to save it because you have to run to the bathroom or fill up your water bottle, but marking half the gym with your shit and expecting everyone to respect the fact that you're taking up all this space – because you're 135 pounds, have more zits than muscle, and believe that circuit training is your salvation – is as rude and inconsiderate as it is nuts.
The gym does not belong to you. When I see some jerk-off doing that, and they're taking their sweet time making the rounds, I usually take all their shit, bring it to the front desk and ask that their stuff be put in the lost and found. Someone obviously forgot it, right? The look on their face when they scour the gym looking for their stuff is priceless.
6 – The Big-Loader, Micro-Repper
This varmint is best personified by a video that made its way around social media. If you haven't seen it, a guy spent close to 30 minutes loading every 45 pound plate on the leg press, then he put an Olympic bar on top of the sled, loaded THAT up with all the 45's it could hold, and then he held it all together with as many of the biggest dumbbells he could stack on top.
He wrapped his knees, climbed in, growled, grunted, and screamed to psych himself up, and then – when everyone possible was finally looking with bated breath – he pushed the sled up off the stops a quarter of an inch (not even unlocking it) then screamed and grunted through a few spastic quarter-inch reps. He finished by slamming the sled back on the stops.
World record, right? He sat in there catching his breath and looking around for applause.
While that's an extreme example, it does exemplify the degree to which some people will go to massage their egos. I'm sure this guy goes around saying he can leg press all the weight in the gym, for reps. Much to the chagrin of anyone else who'd like to use some of that iron and actually lift with it.
These guys are all over the place. They load up an insane amount of weight, or use all the chains, or hang plates on weight stacks with extra pins they "borrowed" from the stacks next door. They make all kinds of noise and accomplish very close to nothing.
The big-loaders don't just disrupt the flow of the gym by hoarding a ton of plates, they abuse expensive gym equipment by overloading it far beyond its engineered design tolerances. Then valuable stuff breaks and no one can use it until it's fixed, a cost that comes out of the pocket of the gym owner, NOT the dork who broke it.
7 – The Cardio Creature of Habit
They have to use the same piece of equipment every day, as if it's "their" machine. No matter what, the one on the end is theirs. You see them every day, always on the same machine. They'll even wait for it, or jump off another one as soon as "theirs" becomes available.
At my gym in Mexico, I stay in an apartment built on the top floor of the building. As luck would have it, my bedroom shares part of a wall with the treadmill room. One Sunday morning, at 8 AM, I was awakened (despite the extra layers of insulation in the wall) to what sounded like a rubber diving fin slapping the sidewalk repeatedly.
While drifting into consciousness, I'm trying to figure out what could cause this noise and can't, for the life of me, nor can I fall back asleep. After 30 minutes of rolling around, my gasket finally blew and I bolted straight up looking for a sledge hammer.
I threw on a pair of shorts and headed out to the treadmill room. The entire room was empty, all 22 treadmills except for ONE. On that treadmill, the diagonal seam on the belt had come apart causing a 15 inch triangle of loose belt to "slap" against the frame every time it came around. The treadmill's proposed "owner" was happily trotting away with her ear buds in, completely oblivious to the cacophony of flapping belt under her feet.
I walked down to the office, grabbed an "out of service" sign, walked back up the stairs, pulled out the plug, removed the power cord, and put the sign on the treadmill, and left – all while she was still on it.
8 – The Puddler
Sweating is expected. But sweat puddles left on benches or machines are not. Anyone who knows they sweat bullets should carry a towel to soak up the mess.
There was a guy at one gym I attended who'd use the same stair climber every morning in his black board shorts and Crocs. He'd drip sweat like a giant ice cold bottle of Coke in the sun. It'd be all over the machine – not just the handles, but also the rails, the body work, and all over the rubber pad underneath it. It looked like it was left out in the rain.
When the guy was done, he'd just get off and walk away, squishing in his soaked Crocs. Several people made comments to him but they fell on deaf ears; the guy was not going to clean up his mess.
Now, to those who needed to do cardio, this must've been annoying. But, I didn't care. I cared so little, in fact, that I didn't bother warning him about the puddle of sweat HE was about to dip the back of his head in. He was getting ready to do some dumbbell presses on a bench and there was a giant sweat puddle left on it by the previous inconsiderate asshole. By this time, cardio sweat man had dried himself off, changed his shirt and was ready to crack off some big reps with a pair of 30s.
I was training across from him, thinking, this is going to be funny. He laid back and his bald head went splat! Right in the puddle of sweat. He tossed the dumbbells and bolted straight up, wiping at the back of his head with this WTF look on his face. I couldn't control myself. He looked over at me laughing and scowled, which made me laugh harder. If gym karma exists, this is proof.
9 – The Texter and Facebooker
You've seen this person and you know he/she cannot survive any length of time without worshipping a cell phone... certainly not the length of a workout. Some say they're conducting important business. Maybe so, but unless you're day trading, or a surgeon on call, you're not SO important that you can't go off the grid for an hour and, I don't know, maybe concentrate on the workout?
In fact, for the super annoying, a real-time play-by-play on Instagram is part of the "workout." This naturally leads to selfies and videos uploaded to social media, Snapchats and of course responding to responses and waiting for new likes – all while sitting on the machine others would like to use.
When you get their attention and ask how many more set they have left, the rational phone-zombies will half consciously realize what they're doing and move away, peripherally guiding themselves toward another vacant spot upon which they can lean or sit while never looking up. That's actually the best case scenario.
Worst case scenario is that you anger the phone-zombie because your attempt at sharing a piece of equipment is an inconvenience to HIM. Depending on how crowded the gym is, the inequity of the opponents, and the amount of gear one party may be running, these situations can easily escalate into something regrettable... and someone walking out of the gym with the lump the size of a pot roast over one eye.
I don't condone violence in the gym. But the amount of people plugged in and unaware of their surroundings is an ongoing frustration to those of us who take what we do in the gym seriously.
10 – The Poser
To be fair, he's not as inconsiderate as the others. But because he's a walking stereotype, he furthers the image of the narcissistic bodybuilder with little intellect and class. In other words, he's a self-congratulatory douchebag.
If you regularly visit a gym and enjoy making your muscles bigger, it's absolutely fine to look at them from time to time. The more hardcore your gym, the more you can get away with dropping your pants and hitting quad shots in the mirror, provided you're in at least very close to contest shape. But this is usually not the case with the poser.
If you can't look anywhere else BUT the mirror, you have to hit a pose after every set, you take selfies at every stop, and you're not even close to being in shape, then you're just being annoying and you're also giving credence to the belief that bodybuilders are dumb egomaniacs.