Gym Pet Peeves

If you’re at a group dinner and the conversation starts to fizzle, here’s an idea: Play a game where each guest shares a pet peeve — for example, when you waste time on a meeting that could just as easily have been an email.

I played this game recently at a work function, and it got me thinking about what drives me crazy at the gym. Here are 10 health club pet peeves that I wish would go away.

1) I will never understand why so many gyms place their pullups station/pullups bar right where the ceilings are the lowest. Near the top of each pullup, you have to ram your head through the ceiling tile, and end the rep somewhere in the crawl space.

2) A significant number of bent barbells around the gym represent a failure of all involved. First, it means gym members are heaving dangerous amounts of weight that literally bend steel. Second, members are also failing to re-rack their weight plates after their preposterous lifts, and gravity takes its toll. Gyms, for their part, are buying cheap barbells that are prone to bending. Then, gyms don’t replace the bars when they do lose their shape, leaving normal members to manage a balance and control nightmare.

3) I can’t believe I have to continue doing my own maintenance at the gym, but here we are. Most recently I brought my air pump and exercise ball plug remover to the gym so that I could fully inflate the gym’s exercise balls. Movements like stir the pot lose their effectiveness with a half-deflated exercise ball.

4) The guy fogging up the entire locker room with his noxious deodorant and foot spray powder. This is the one time I miss wearing my mask at the gym.  

5) People monopolizing the equipment I want to use. I’m annoyed not only because they’re in my way, but also high-volume lifting (lots of sets) is counterproductive — especially for amateurs who don’t use steroids for recovery. These people exhibit a nasty combination of selfishness and ignorance.

6) People who use available machines, benches, and dumbbell racks as tabletops for their water bottles, phones, and backpacks. You are astonishingly self-absorbed if you think of gym equipment as an extension of your gym locker. Leaving one’s belongings on a piece of equipment is, not surprisingly, the international fitness sign for “item in use.” Just because no one is currently using that bench doesn’t mean someone isn’t planning very soon to use that bench.

7) Gym equipment clutter, meaning hardware no one uses, like old stationary bikes and outdated machines. Gyms ought to remove/throw out everything on the gym floor that is only collecting dust. Clubs should consider the aesthetic of open space and the utility of more room for members to move around.

8) Speaking of which, there are lunatics that pull out a jump rope and start skipping away in tight, high traffic spots on the gym floor. Guaranteed at some point a jumper is going to decapitate someone. Meanwhile, there’s an empty aerobics room just a few steps away.

9) I am grateful that my gym has janitorial staff trying to keep the place clean and organized. However, I am annoyed when the custodian is banging the vacuum cleaner arm against my bench in the middle of my set, and that I trip over the extension cord when I go to get up.  

10) The guy who grabs dumbbells and does side laterals directly in front of the dumbbell rack. No one else can get to the dumbbells that sit within a 10-foot wingspan of where he’s exercising. I hope he’s just deficient in self-awareness, rather than intentionally getting in the way. Either way, what a dumbass.

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