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It's Not Cool to be
It’s one of the most
infamous lines of recent times.
“Are you talking to me?”
Robert DeNiro was downright chilling in his award-winning role from
1974’s “Taxi Driver”, but these five words hardly
perished along with the character who used them. A quarter century
later, you can hear them almost every day at your local health
club, often times from characters who are – indeed –
just as creepy as DeNiro’s.
“Excuse me, sir, could I bother you for a spot?”
“(Grunt) Are you talking to me?”
“Um, well, yes. Actually, I was. Do you mind helping me for a
“(Growl) Yes, I mind! I’m busy! Get lost!”
Of course, a gym without attitude is like a Registry of Motor
Vehicles without an hour-long line. It’s almost impossible to
Unfortunately, there are always a handful of gym patrons who feel
that being buff and being gruff need to go hand in hand. Being lean
does not require you being mean. And no, it’s certainly not
cool to be cruel.
Here are some of the leading pet peeves when it comes to gym
1) You’ve been eyeing that piece of exercise equipment for
the past fifteen minutes but the guy has been using it as a
recliner for what seems like the duration of the millennium.
Finally, you approach him with a kind, gentle tone in your voice.
“Excuse me, sir. Do you have a lot of sets left here?”
you ask him. “Three more,” he answers, without even
making eye contact. It is proper gym etiquette for a patron to
offer a fellow trainer to “work in” on the machine,
especially if his regimen is as animated as an episode of
“Thirtysomething”. But if he does not extend the offer
– and many people don’t - then perhaps it’s you
turn to flat-out ask him.
2) In some cultures, it’s considered an act of celebration.
Throwing plates around a kitchen, breaking them, stomping on them,
it’s all an act of wonder and glee. Yet, tossing those iron
plates around the gym can create a stir of another kind, the one
that’s buzzing between your ears. Nothing can be as
unsettling (or dangerous) to your workout as the jerk who fires
these plated weights around the gym in attempt for him to blow off
some steam. Maybe he’s taking out a week of frustration on
those harmless 45-pounders. But it’s even worse when he just
leaves them there! Not only can the sudden, abrupt
“CLANG!” be intrusive and distracting in your workout,
it has also been known to lead to a number of unnecessary
3) You feel like that guy in the desert as you await from the back
of the line. Your mouth is chapped, your throat is begging for a
drop of salvation from that water bubbler up ahead. Then, the next
guy steps up to the bubbler and pulls out a bottle the size of a
waste basket. It takes soooooo long for this man to pour his water,
you’d think it was Guiness Beer. He hardly cares that there
are 13 unlucky people behind him dying of dehydration. But perhaps
it’s time he should. There are two solutions to such a
nagging problem: a) refill your bottle in the sink, preferably the
one behind the juice bar; or b) fill a moderate amount of your
bottle at the bubbler, instead of a marathon fill to the brim.
4) “What are you looking at?” Well, DeNiro never made
those five words famous, but they’re certainly ones that
we’re all accustomed to. But perhaps the leading cause for
scuffles among gym patrons entails no words whatsoever. Most
incidents merely involve glances or “dirty looks”.
While it may sound a bit absurd, excessive staring can be
considered rude. More importantly, too many trainers are more
concerned about what “the other guy” is doing than what
he himself is indulged in. Keep your eyes – and your comments
– to yourself.
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