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Workout Your Mind and Muscles with this Guide to Gym Culture

From going to the gym so much (in case you couldn’t tell), I’ve learned you can tell a lot about a person based on how they work out. Most people don’t pay much attention to what others are doing in the gym (which is probably the normal thing to do), but I can’t help myself when it comes to observing how people act in different places. First to get the boring group out of the way, there are “the norms.” These are the kids who come in, work out and leave. They do nothing special—no cool habits, no fun little tendencies—just a solid workout. Who would’ve thought somebody would actually just “workout” in the gym? That’s no fun! These kids can be so inconspicuous. You’ll walk into the gym with them, exercise for an hour and not see them and then walk out of the gym with the exact same kid wondering where the hell has he’s been for the last hour?

Watch out for “Ragers” at the gym.                           Jon Tunnell / Flickr

Watch out for “Ragers” at the gym. Jon Tunnell / Flickr

Moving on to the fun categories, the first group I like to call “the ragers.” These are the kids that right when they walk into the gym turn into a different person so amped up on whatever pre-workout drug they’re taking, you can’t even look them in the eyes. You can already name three kids in your head that fit this category. Every set, on every machine is the most intense thing I’ve ever seen in my life. These kids lift as if their whole family’s lives depended on it. And of course it wouldn’t be right if a “rager” weren’t listening to music. Their music is blasting so loud that if you’re within five feet of one of them, you can clearly hear the lyrics to whatever death metal or hard rap song they’re listening to (because there’s no in-between for music at the gym). It’s only extremes of all genres. You’ll never hear anyone say “Wow, that Jason Mraz song really gets me in the mood to work out!” “Ragers” always seem to be in a trance; I wouldn’t be surprised if I walked out with one, and they immediately asked, “Where have I been for the last hour?" Then there’s the group I like to call “the social lifters.” These kids are in the gym for the sole purpose of saying “I went to the gym today.” These kids are easy to spot because the first thing they’ll always tell you is how long they’ve already been at the gym, (because how else can I be impressed if I don’t know how long you’ve been at the gym?) and try to start a long conversation with you as if you don’t have anything to do. “Hey bro! I’ve been here since 2 p.m. (it’s currently dark outside) the workout’s been crazy today! How have you been? What’s going on with you? What’d you do this weekend? Did I tell you how long I’ve been here?”

Then, there’s “the nutritionist.” Everybody knows at least one of these people. If you ask them one thing about working out, they’ll sit you down and give you an hour-long lecture about your body. Walking into their room feels like you just stepped into a GNC with so many supplements set up on their desk.

“This is my pre-workout supplement, my pre-workout energy pills, during a workout N.O. drink, post-workout protein shake, pills I have to take after dinner to make sure I’m always in a current state of anabolism, and I have to take these pills before I go to bed, which causes me to dream about working out.”

You’ll always see them watching their friend exercise only to then step in every few seconds to show them what they’re doing wrong and how they should be doing it. Since they know so much, they’re not doing something normal when they work out. They need to take up half the gym while doing some crazy exercise, which works every muscle in the body and looks extremely hard to do.

Finally, there’s the special group of girls you’ll always see in the gym that I could only classify as “the machines.” These are the ones that are always on the elliptical, who are running (ellipting?) so hard non-stop for hours at a time, that it could only be in comparison to a machine.

When you walk into the gym you’ll see these girls working insanely hard on an elliptical, dripping sweat, and think “she must be tired,” but even when you’re leaving the gym that same girl is still going strong on that elliptical! I’m pretty sure if you just hooked up a generator somehow to one of these ellipticals, these girls could power the city of Tampa for hours at a time. And if it’s not hard enough to run on the elliptical at 1,000 miles per hour, these girls can actually read and study at the same time! In fact, I guarantee one girl is reading this article right now while exercising on the elliptical.

So next time you’re in the gym just look around, and you’ll be able to identify someone from each of these groups, and I’ll be the kid in the corner with a notepad watching all of them.

John Jacobs can be reached at jjacobs@ut.edu.

3 Comments on Workout Your Mind and Muscles with this Guide to Gym Culture

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  2. So true. More fire from JJ.

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  3. Baby Chester // October 29, 2009 at 4:20 pm //

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