Health Club Regulars - Some of the People You're Likely to Meet at the Gym

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One of the great benefits of belonging to a health club is the huge variety of exercise equipment that’s available. It’s also a great place to meet and observe a wide cross section of society. Here are just a few of the more notable health club regulars:

1. Screaming Banshee - We’ve all been focused on our workout when out of nowhere comes a blood-curdling sound from the corner of the weight room. You look over and there’s a guy doing laterals with 20 lb dumbbells. It doesn’t matter what the exercise or weight is –- he’s screaming with every rep. If it helps his workouts, then more power to him! It certainly makes a good case for an iPod.

2. The Strainer - The Strainer can often be observed loading up a barbell or weight stack with poundage that he is unable to perform even a single rep in good form with. A favorite exercise of the Strainer is the triceps press down machine. He will position the pin almost near the bottom of the weight stack and then proceed to wrestle the stack downward with every ounce of his being. It’s truly painful to watch, but like a car wreck, it’s hard to look away.

After using most all of the muscles in his upper body along with several in his lower, he finally manages to complete a rep. “That’s one!” Yep, only nine more to go. Oh yeah, don’t bother trying to be helpful and tell him to use less weight. You’ll only be greeted with a nasty glare.

3. iPod Head Banger - this is usually a young person, male or female, who seems to have ear buds permanently implanted into their head. Music can be a great inspiration during your workouts, but these folks turn the volume up to 11. Of course everyone in the immediate area can groove to the same jams due to the sound leaking out from their ear buds.

The hazard is that Mr. or Ms Head Banger is usually oblivious to their surroundings and you’ll need to shout to get their attention if the need arises. At least you can hear them coming and give them a wide berth.

4. Stanley Steamer - it’s hard to believe, but there are people who actually use their gym memberships just to avail themselves of the locker room amenities. Take Stanley Steamer for example. He may come in on his lunch hour or after work and do some quick cardio work and then it’s right back to the locker room. The cardio work is just a pretext for what comes next.

He then will do alternating shifts between the dry sauna and steam room until he’s sweated out every last drop of water from his body. This process can go on for up to an hour. “Great for the pores!” he’ll tell you as he stands there glistening like a Thanksgiving Butterball. You go Stan!

5. Ken and Barbie - there are some gym regulars who are so genetically gifted that they have gone into permanent “maintenance mode” for their training. Their routines consist of a solid core of shaping exercises with the strict rule that they must never, under any circumstances, ever shed one drop of sweat!

No hair is out of place and they look spectacular in their Lycra workout gear. In fact, you seem to never see them wearing anything else, even outside of the gym.

6. Chatty Cathy - Cathy is a relatively new species that has evolved with the proliferation of cell phones and the trend to use them no matter where we are. She will take up position on the adductor machine and wait for a call –- any call –- which soon arrives without fail.

She’ll talk away for minutes on end. Occasionally passing the cell phone to any friends who have joined her for a “workout”. She’ll use these breaks to get in a few reps on whatever machine she’s parked herself on. Just to be fair and balanced, there are also plenty of Chatty Carls as well.

7. Swiss Ball Magician - this is usually either a personal trainer or staff member who has learned a large repertoire of stability ball exercises from a special course or secret training manual. I marvel at the endless variety of moves they possess!

They’re on top of the ball, under it, along side it, between the legs with it, and around the back. They make the Harlem Globe Trotters look like pikers! Actually, I pay close attention when they’re around and try to cop some of their moves.

All of these types are well-meaning folks and they are certainly preferable to some of the knuckleheads that sometimes show up at the gym. They make going to the gym the enjoyable and enriching experience that it is.