Gym Etiquette 101

by Kent Sterling

Admire yourself at home is a good place to start.

Labeling this as as 100-level course for gym behavior is both too broad and too generous.  Most who go to the gym need a remedial course that equates to a third grade primer, and my entire class is concerns itself only on what goes on in the most unholy of all places that are not penitentiaries.’s Patrick Hruby wrote a Page 2 post about the eight most irritating types of gym-goers, but they all had to do with the gym itself.  The real visually abusive behaviors occur in the locker room – a place I run in and out of like a six-year old going to church.

In the summer, I can avoid it completely.  I walk in looking like hell, and I walk out looking and smelling worse.  The boobery that spends an hour showering in bacteria infested squalor and huddled together in saunas like Cuban immigrants on cardboard raft is as indecipherable to me as the musical genius of Brian Wilson or Mozart.

I have belonged to LA Fitness, Lifetime Fitness, Bally’s, and Five Seasons health clubs over the years, and I’ve seen people fitting these categories at all of them.

Here are the eight locker room types I have been repulsed by out of the corner of me eye over the years of trying like hell to retain the modest physique and barely functional athletic ability God gave me:

The Doppelganger – This is the guy (by the way, these are restricted to men because I have never been in a ladies’ locker room, which I would imagine must be similar to a 24-hour strip club in a bad neighborhood on a Monday at 9 a.m.) who looks in the mirror and sees something the rest of us must miss.  He stares admiringly at his physique like a 16 year-old looks at his 1974 Pontiac Catalina.

The Inkblot – God bless the 78 year-olds that continue to train.  I hope I do, but fortunately I made it through idiotic nights without being arrested or getting a tattoo.  Some of the old guys at the gym have what I’m sure used to be beautiful murals etched into their now leathery facades.  Ironically, what happened to the subjects of the pictures, happened in real life.  Beauty undone by gravity and blemishes layered upon one another is bad enough without it in 3-D.

The Clacker – Remember the toy in the early 1970s with two plastic balls that were connected by a string.  Kids moved the middle of the string to cause the balls to clack together.  A lifetime of boxer shorts without any mechanism to help the scrotum battle gravity has elongated the nut sacks of the old and near old to knee level.

The Shaver – Just as some people feel like it’s fine to urinate wherever they get the urge, there is a small sect of men who feel right at home shaving in a health club sink.  Those who do it are a little weird, but the worst are the guys who do it in the nude with a foot propped up on the vanity.  I’ve only seen it twice, and should have either told them how wildly inappropriate that was, or given them a certificate of achievement in the area of flat not giving a damn what anyone thinks.

The Close-Talker – These guys are a minor inconvenience, unless they are naked, which they almost always are in the locker room of a health club.  Serious conversations about work or family with a guy inside the radius of my personal space – roughly 18-24 inches – is tough.  Add the dangling schlong, and I turn into a stammering fool like King George VI in “The King’s Speech”.

The Idol – Some men just want to be seen, I suppose.  They walk around the locker room shirtless for a period of time until they feel everyone has noticed their grand physiques.  They sit quietly and game a their own muscles and then finally leave.  Then they head to one of the female trainers and talk about their workout.

The Pair – There are always a couple of exercise fanatics who are sitting in the locker room talking about how many reps and at what weight they lifted.  They speak of squats, curls, and presses with great detail and just loudly enough for everyone else getting dressed to hear.

The Hustler – This is me, and it’s not what it sounds like.  I can walk into the locker room, dress, and leave in 45 seconds.  I make sure that my jeans are big enough to allow me to put them on over my shoes, and when I dress for a workout, I organize my stuff in the locker so I can access them quickly and easily.  A place with that many naked and vain men is not a comfortable spot for socializing, and the less time I spend in their, the better.

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