The Gym Life


So, I don’t know about all you gym go-ers out there, but I’ve noticed something about the gym life. I guess I should start by stating that life in America (and every other culture) is governed by social rules and mores (that’s pronounced more-ays for you people who haven’t taken Sociology 101). These consist of actual laws, such as “no murdering allowed”. The social rules (mores) are the expectations of behavior that prevent or encourage people to act a certain way. For example, if someone says hello, it is expected that you say hello back or else people with think you’re a dick. Today’s topic is about how these rules and mores go out the window if you’re in a gym.

Number 1 Rule Broken: Unwanted commentary, conversation, and/or remarks.

After a good hard workout, I’m a big fan of relaxing in the sauna, or if it was a swim, I sit in the jacuzzi to warm back up and ease the tense muscles. My first encounter with a rule breaker was in the sauna on my first night as a member of the gym. While relaxing in the sauna, and my music playing (to distract myself and warn off potential talkers) a man suddenly asked me if I was John’s sister. I say no. Thirty seconds later he asks if I am sure. WTF?!!! Ummmm, yeah. I’m sure. Folks, the weirdness did not end there. He had a big jug of water with him which he alternately chugged and poured over himself. After every gulp session, he let out monstrous burps. Now, I’m no delicate flower, though I was raised with Southern manners, but this is just nasty! Then, he sits with his face turned down and alternately spits on the bench and shakes the sweat off his face. After encountering him multiple times, I realized his purpose in doing this was to cover the entire area below his face in liquid. As far as other unwanted conversation goes, I’ve had plenty. A big theme at my gym is that strangers strike up a conversation to get to know me, then either a stranger who is obviously hispanic or someone they know comes in, and they relate the entire conversation we just had in Spanish to the other person. I know, cause I speak Spanish; I have yet to ask them (in Spanish) why they do that. It makes no sense, people! I’ve even had one person, after asking what I did, if I was married. And when I said no, he asked if I was a virgin!!!!  I’ve asked my friend if the same thing happens to her, and she said no, but pointed out that she wears her wedding ring at the gym (Hi B.) If that’s what it takes, I might have to get me some bling! Moving on…

Number 2 Rule Broken: Polite courtesy of not being overly loud or having a loud phone conversation when you’re in close proximity to someone else, especially if it’s a quiet place.

To me, this is kind of like the library rule. I used to go to the Aquafit class 3 times a week. It never failed that at least 2 time per week, a small group of women used it as their social hour. I’m sorry, I’m focusing on not drowning and remembering to breath as I contort my body through the water, and your inane chatter is freaking distracting! There’s a freakin’ instructor! How’s about we shut up and listen so she doesn’t have to put on her pissy face, and repeat the directions while giving you meaningful looks!!! And people on the phone! Are you really exercising?! NO! Take that conversation about your baby daddy or the guy that’s blowing you off outside!! I admit, I have had many personal conversations at the gym before. But I was with my gym buddy (Hi guera!) and we spoke quietly, and normally in Spanish, which most people in STL don’t speak.

Number 3 Rule Broken: Inappropriate Attire….or just really ugly stuff.

  • A guy wearing speedos with rubber duckies printed on them to do his laps. Just…no thank you. Speedos in general.
  • Guys wearing their boxer briefs to swim in. Probably the ones they’ve had on all day and are soaked through with jungle butt nastiness.
  • Men working out in jeans.
  • And women looking as though they’re dressed for an event, puffing away on the stair climber.
  • Women wearing wigs while working out or in the sauna. (I profoundly apologize if you’ve lost your hair due to a medical condition) But, if it’s for vanity’s sake, then you’re stupid.

Number 4 Rule Broken: Locker Room Nudity

Obviously, nudity is to be expected in a situation where people are changing clothes, and showering, and whatnot. However, there are still limits! Now, I don’t hide, and I don’t rush. I change my clothes cause that’s what I have to do. What I don’t do is parade around naked, or do stretches while nude. (I know this is probably a dream situation for the male population) I guess I’m just more modest than the average person. But when I see anyone parading from the showers to the lockers with the towel around their head instead of their body, my brain immediately goes into shock. I have now seen more naked women, of every age, race, and shape, than I ever expected to in my whole life. While I admit that I have admired a body or two (not as a creeper, or in a sexual way, but in the “Wow, she has a great body” kind of way) I still don’t want to see all that!

I ask you, what is it about the gym that let’s people get away with all kinds of stuff? What makes people feel so at ease to be disgusting or overly friendly? To cross personal boundaries? I just don’t get it. Is it like this in other cultures? Do the rules just go out the window as soon as you put the jogging shoes on? If I ever make it to a foreign gym, I’ll let you know. Until then, I’m trying to keep my eyes averted, head down, music loud, and stay away from the spit. Vagabond out.



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