Lightner Lays it Down: five people to avoid at the gym

Working in the gym has been a pretty sweet deal. Besides picking up sweaty towels and dealing with machinery that “mysteriously” gets broken, the job is pretty low-key. The types of people that come through here, however, never cease to amaze me. And because there really is no one in here as I write this (no one with an inkling of sense works out before 7:00 a.m.), I’ve decided to compile a list of different gym personalities based on bullshit statistics I made up just now.


The Mall-Walkers

These are the more, shall I say, mature gym members who pop in two or three times a week. As they shuffle in with their fanny pack, florescent ’90s track suit and white Reeboks, your inner boy/girl scout kicks in, and you feel this immense urge to help them. Like, hold their arm as they walk on the treadmill or pick up the dumbbells for them so they don’t get a hernia. But then you turn around and see these same old people bench-pressing 195 lbs., and you realize that they outlived the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, ’80s hairstyles and Y2k, and the last thing they need is help from your scrawny ass who pops a blood vessel whenever Tumblr is down for more than two hours.


The Locals

These are the folks who come to the gym every day, seven times a week, and they pride themselves on it. I mean, I would consider watching Netflix and eating leftover chicken nuggets a much better way to spend my Saturday morning, but hey, to each their own. But sometimes, that pride becomes smugness, which can turn any local from a familiar face into a gargantuan pain in the ass. When they come to pick up their ID card from the table, they just stare at you like you should automatically know who they are. Yeah, I know who you are! You’re the one who left that puddle of sweat under the elliptical machine yesterday and didn’t wipe it up. If you’re here so much, you should know that it’s a gym, not fucking SeaWorld!


The Grunters

Yes, they are exactly what they sound like. Eighty percent of the grunters I have encountered are male. Female grunters are not impossible, they are just extremely rare, like an EMS-free Halloweekend. Grunters always work out in pairs. I mean that’s cool and all, I’m sure the whole workout experience is less painful when you suffer through it with someone else. It’s just that they obnoxiously grunt phrases like “Yeah!” and “Whoo!” and “Get it!” so that you can hear them from anywhere in the gym. I swear to God, if you close your eyes and forget that you are in a gym, you would think that you are listening to a former child star’s sex tape.

The Overly Ambitious

These poor souls strut in convinced they are the descendants of the Hulk, when in reality they more resemble Steve Urkel from “Family Matters.” As they gasp, groan and nearly kill themselves trying to squat-lift 300 lbs., all you can think is, “Oh God, this kid’s eyes are going to pop out of his sockets,” or, “Jesus, please don’t let this kid accidentally void his bowels all over the floor.”


The Over-Achiever

This person is so ripped that they have muscles on their uvula. Unlike the Overly Ambitious gym-goer who is about to rupture their aorta trying to pick up a medicine ball, the Over-Achiever makes the gym equipment look like their personal jungle gym. Everyone else marvels at them as they work out, like they are some supernatural phenomenon—like the flying spaghetti monster or a double rainbow.


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