Rethinking The Gym | HumorOutcasts

Rethinking The Gym

January 5, 2013
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I have a strange relationship with gyms. I’m grateful they exist, but leery of some of the people they attract. For example: as a birthday gag a few years ago my wife bought me a headband, a tight muscle-tee, and a pair of tiny pink running shorts that barely came down past my junk. Not one to shy from a dare, I donned the outfit (going turtle) and threw in a pair of knee-high tube socks to complete the 70’s look. Then I headed for the gym at our community center. I kept to machines that required my legs to be elevated, thus offering other gym rats the chance to glimpse my huevos. And until the chlorine dissolved them, my little pink shorts were quite effective in navigating the always crowded hot tub – I rarely failed to get a seat.

See what I mean? Gyms are a total magnet for weirdos.

The other day I was at the gym, conservatively dressed and using a leg-lift machine. Halfway through my set I heard a loud grunting noise. I glanced over and saw a ripped guy wearing those bulge-producing shorts favored by high-school gym coaches. He was trying to lift an entire stack of weights using just one foot. I stopped and stared in the same way you gawk at a dog that’s in heat and humping someone’s leg. At rep #7 the guy yelled, dropped the stack with a crash, and limped away cursing.

The only place in a gym where it’s cool to grunt and curse is in a bathroom stall. Everyone understands your plight.

So it was with great interest that I read about Planet Fitness. Their corporate motto is “No Gymtimidation.” They’ve implemented something they call a “Lunk Alarm” – if some agro dude starts grunting and slamming weights, a manager hits a button and an alarm goes off inside the weight room. The grunter is then called out, publicly. If the grunting and slamming don’t stop, the violator forfeits his membership.

I feel for agro-grunters. Their aggression is likely the result of some poison humans have put into the environment (i.e. researchers now believe that leaded gasoline poisoned kids and caused a spike in violent crime in the ‘70’s and 80’s). Perhaps we should use a less punitive approach to grunting, like requiring grunters to wear a motorcycle helmet with a face shield to muffle the noise while they work out. Regardless, the grunting and weight-slamming need to be stopped, and Planet Fitness is leading the way.

And thank god someone didn’t invent the Lunk Alarm a few years ago and use it to target nut-flashing John McEnroe impersonators. I really liked that hot tub. Losing access to it would have sucked. It was the only reason I was able to make myself go to the gym.

Thomas Sullivan

Thomas Sullivan is the author of So Much Time, So Little Change (a book of essays published by Wayman Publishing). It is available at Amazon in print and Kindle. Thomas lives in Seattle.

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10 Responses to Rethinking The Gym

  1. Deb Martin-Webster
    January 6, 2013 at 9:04 am

    You had me at “Going Turtle.” Plant Fitness sounds like the best place for me to do excusercise . Any time I can make an excuse not to work out, I do! Funny stuff Thomas!

    • Deb Martin-Webster
      January 6, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Oops, that’s “Planet”

  2. January 6, 2013 at 6:12 am

    I think I like this gym. Any gym that uses the word “Gymtimidation” has got to be at the very cutting edge.

  3. January 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I belong to an LA Fitness. yes, there are shares of gymintimidators but there is also a lot of regular people But I admit that I time my exercise and go the after the I have to rush to work crowd, to avoid the young and hip crowd that seem a bit angry. I prefer to work out when the less stressed and more established new hip crowd comes into the gym.

    • January 6, 2013 at 1:51 am

      People go to the gym before work? That would make anyone angry.

  4. January 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Dropping or slamming weights is definitely uncool. I haven’t heard enough grunting at the gym to be bothered by it. I use weight machines, so I stay away from the free weight area.

  5. Kathy Minicozzi
    January 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Gyms also attract people who are nicely toned, athletic and fit. This intimidates those of us to whom the idea of exercise produces great agitation.

    Fortunately, I found Curves. They cater to people like me and make exercise do-able, palatable and even fun. No more gymnaphobia for me!

    • January 6, 2013 at 1:54 am

      I think gyms hire those toned/ fit people to cruise around and pretend to be customers. I’d do that if I owned one. Glad ya found a good place, seems to be the key.

  6. January 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Planet Fitness truly is blazing a trail. Do they throw protein shakes infused with sedatives at the grunter if he gets aggressive with the person who pulls the Lunk Alarm?

    • January 6, 2013 at 1:57 am

      Totally unrelated, I love the Thrush Limbaugh. Sedatives are a good idea.



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