Gyms are filled with wonderful characters, and today I want to pay tribute to them.
From the guy who sweats more than a glassblower’s a** crack, to the lad who’s snorting pre workout while telling everyone he doesn’t have a problem.
They may be annoying as f**k, but without them gyms just wouldn’t be gyms.
Let’s see if any of these characters also exist in your place of iron worship.
1. THE SALES REP
Have you ever engaged in light conversation with the person on the next treadmill?
It’s a daunting experience because you don’t know which end of the stranger danger scale you’re going to get.
In an ideal world, you’ve just made a new buddy and morning cardio will never be dull again because you guys can smash the calories together like Rocky & Apollo.
But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where Gwyneth Paltrow is considered a “health expert” for cramming diamond rocks into her lady garden.
So you get the other end of the scale.
Turns out your new pal Jill is a Herbalife rep, and you’re not actually having a conversation with her, you’re being screened. By the time you leave the treadmill you’ll have a free sample of detox tea and an earful of nonsense about how Jill’s living her #dreamlife with the money she makes from people who are too polite to tell her to “f**k all the way off”.
Your awkwardness now causes you to spend the next few WEEKS exercising at obscure times of day so you don’t get ambushed again.
HOW TO SPOT THE SALES REP AT YOUR GYM:
She’s in the cardio & abs area, ready to pounce on her next victim.
2. THE INSTA-MODEL
With a work ratio of 5 reps per selfie, this character has a very specific goal in mind at the gym.
To achieve this, they must convince their social media followers that they are training hard without actually doing it. Oh, and contrary to bulls**t gender stereotyping, this character is normally A GUY.
I once watched three men spend 21 minutes trying to find the best photo angle to make them look shredded while they used a Pec Deck I shook my head in disbelief, pointing out the obvious; if they used the machine instead of taking photos on it, they’d find it much easier to look more muscular because they would simply be it.
It’s not always guys, though.
A friend of mine recently dated a girl he met online, and was quick to point out that she looked entirely different to the person displayed on social media (catfishing via filters?). One day while training legs, he dropped the immortal line:
“Mate if she ever gets kidnapped she’ll be lost forever. The milk carton is gonna look f**k all like her!”
HOW TO SPOT THE MODEL AT YOUR GYM:
The lasses will be performing Instagram Squats – duck pout, butt out, iPhone positioned for booty cam. The lads will be queuing in the changing rooms to take selfies in the magic mirror that makes everyone look shredded.
3. THE ASKHOLE
Have you ever had someone interrupt your workout to ask for training advice, only to carry on doing exactly what they were doing in the first place?
That’s classic Askhole.
Don’t be offended, this is what he does.
He’ll go round the whole gym trying to discover what everyone else is doing so he can, you know, ignore it.
The Askhole is a distant cousin of another great gym character; The Teacher.
Unlike your local Askhole, The Teacher prefers a more direct approach. He stalks the gym like a lion, looking for weak antelope to lecture on how they’re “doing everything wrong” and need to train how he trains “otherwise they’ll get no results”, despite the fact he has no results.
HOW TO SPOT THE ASKHOLE AT YOUR GYM:
He’ll find you.
4. THE CORE BRO
If you can’t see him, look up.
Core Bro trains like a superhero. Heck, he’s so ‘functional’ even his shoelaces are mini resistance bands.
He’s not afraid to ask the important questions, like why do a push up when you can do a wall-mounted zero gravity press.. with a Swiss ball between your ankles… while simultaneously drinking a whey protein shake… that’s on fire…?
Over the years, I’ve come to hate the term functional fitness, because it’s often used just to over-complicate an exercise. You see, the end goal determines whether an exercise is ‘functional’ or not – it doesn’t matter how many balls or bands are involved.
If you are a bodybuilder hoping to build bigger arms, even the good old biceps curl can be deemed ‘functional’.
Likewise, Core Bro yelling that he’s “Training for life!” is functional if his goal is to sound like an atomic t**t.
HOW TO SPOT THE CORE BRO AT YOUR GYM:
He’s the Coldplay-looking geezer wearing five finger shoes, calling food ‘fuel’.
5. SUPPLEMENT STEVE
Steve carries a giant bag around the gym with him as he trains.
It’s choc-full of pre / post / intra workout BCAAs, whey protein and whatever else he could get his hands on.
Unfortunately, Steve has fallen victim to the money suck that is the supplement industry, and he now rattles when he walks because some fitness magazine claimed he needed to go buy everything Mr. Olympia uses.
Well, almost everything…
Because they’ll happily take his hundreds of dollars for all of the above, while conveniently not mentioning the absolute f**k-tonne of ‘vitamin S’ he also takes on top of that.
Supplement Steve is a close pal of another great gym character; Captain App-merica, who enters the gym with so many gadgets and trackers he could have spent the morning battling Jean Claude Van Damme on the set of Universal Soldier.
6. THE BUS
The red face… the crazy eyes… and then you hear it…
I remember one time at the gym a guy on the next bench let out a hiss so deafening I thought the number 12 bus had just pulled up beside me. It was so convincing I almost climbed on!
Nobody knows the true origin of this sound, but he’s usually the same guy who lists his place of education on Facebook as ‘school of life’.
The Bus is often found training with The Screamer; a character who classes his ego as a muscle group and trains it every day. For this guy, it’s not about lifting a heavy weight… it’s about you knowing he’s doing it.
HOW TO SPOT THE BUS AT YOUR GYM:
Remove your headphones and listen up – but watch out for The Askhole when you do.
7. THE SHIRT LIFTER
Fair play, you have abs. I know the sacrifice involved.
You go girl / guy / unidentified gender.
But here’s the thing…
Either you suffer from a rare genetic condition that forces you to lift your shirt and wipe your brow EVERY TIME a girl walks by, or you’re a total thunderc**t.
My money’s on the latter.
There you go! My list of 7 people you’ll meet in every gym.
I’ve always been a bit of a saddo when it comes to analyzing human behavior, so I hope this post provided you with some amusement. If you’re bored as you smash your morning cardio, I recommend ditching Netflix on your phone and partaking in some good old people watching instead.
You won’t be disappointed.
But what’s perhaps MOST interesting is that these characters can be found in almost every gym!
Perhaps my Granda was right when he told me:
“Always remember, Russ; you are totally unique. Just like everyone else.”
Who Is Russ Howe PTI?
Russ has been a personal trainer in the UK since 2002, and provided both training advice and full programs on this website since 2011.
His work has been featured in Men’s Fitness magazine, and the content on this website led to him being voted one of the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost.
Russ spends his time coaching men and women inside the legendary Powerhouse Gym, South Shields, and writing training tips for the 114,301 members of his popular free training e-mail (join it below).