NEW YORK, NY – It’s hard to believe, but there was actually a time, not too long ago when gyms were associated with athletics. Up and coming hoopsters such as Chris Mullin were referred to as “gym rats” running endless full- and half-court games on indoor courts while practitioners of the sweet science used to dream of becoming the next heavyweight champ, plying their trade in places like Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. Though these pursuits still continue today, the term “gym” has pretty much been hijacked by an entirely different subculture. Though it’s a pretty far reach to associate the inhabitants of today’s gyms as having anything to do with sports, they are nevertheless a fascinating group. Come along as we introduce you to this cast of oddballs and weirdos one might only find in the bar scene from Star Wars. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting your Gym Dandies:
The Steroid Monkey: Let’s just get this one out of the way first. Baseball and Football have made this guy (or gal) instantly recognizable. Giant head, muscles of nauseating proportions, back acne, perma-scowl. Basically, this is the gym’s version of a drug addict. Don’t make eye contact and everything will be cool.
The Lurker: This is the spook who just stands and stares and waits and waits and waits and stares some more until someone using a machine or other apparatus finally gets uncomfortable and vacates their station. This serial killer approach is both incredibly annoying and highly effective.
The Tag Team Partners: These are mostly guys. They go to the gym together, they work out together, they shout loud encouragements such as “C’mon! One more you p***y!” at each other, they shower together, and they do all of these things… every… single… day. Basically, they’re in love with each other but are unable to express these feelings except with a friendly spot and another set. Anyone who thinks that keeping yourself in shape is a team sport is fooling themselves.
The Junkman: His main habitat is the locker room because that is where he can spend the maximum time naked in front of men of his own gender. This guy will dry his hair, read the paper, make a few phone calls and do just about any task imaginable before putting his underwear on. As I mentioned here before, I once saw a Junkman eat a sandwich in the locker room before donning his drawers. I’m sure there is a female equivalent to this guy.
The Hanger-on: This is the guy or gal who hang onto the control module of the treadmill for dear life as it rolls at tortoise-like speeds. Though this person often appears over-matched, they nevertheless keep plugging away in an effort to get some sort of exercise in their life. Can’t crack wise about that.
“Jane! Stop this crazy thing!”
The Resolutionaries: Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, this group of broken milk bottles descend on their local fitness palaces like clockwork every January. The only difference is, they are gone by February. National Geographic should do a special on their odd, short-lived migration.
The Filthy Fantasy: She’s a knockout. Far too beautiful to even be under the same roof as you and the rest of the sub-humanoids. Still, she’s there, so you may as well make the best of it and imagine making sweet, sweet love to her all over every square inch of that gym as well as exotic locales stateside and abroad. Don’t get too carried away though, you don’t want to be walking around Crunch sporting a full stinger.
Ma Bell: The only major lifting this clown does is the cellular-to-ear variety. Research shows that 100% of these phone calls are less-than-pointless.
The Canary: This pop star wannabe has the old ipod cranked up to 11 and may or may not realize that he/she is singing England Dan and John Ford Coley’s I’d Really Love to See You Tonight at the top of their lungs. There are no shortage of amateur Li’l Waynes out their either.
The Moonlighter: This person appears to be a dyed-in-the-wool fitness freak because you see them at the gym quite often. What you don’t know is that during the rest of their free time they are busy eating and boozing themselves into an early grave. Get close enough and you’ll smell the bourbon and burger grease coming out of their pores. Their gym visits are a futile attempt to help stem the tide of the oncoming, full-blown beer gut. Yours truly is a devout Moonlighter. Pray for me.
The Pig: What can you say about the pig? He’s a classic. Gargles and spits at the water fountain, leaves chewing gum in the cup holders, does the nostril hold and blow over the garbage can, and that’s not even mentioning the myriad locker room atrocities for which he’s responsible. In a way, he’s a an artist, you never know what level he’ll sink to next.
“Can I borrow your towel for a sec?”
Sir Talksalot: A close relative of Ma Bell, Sir Talksalot likes to engage his or her fellow gym patrons in inane banter every chance he or she gets. To these guys, the gym is their own personal cocktail party and you are their hostage.
The Workout Warrior: This person is at the gym so much they should be paying rent. They don’t have a full-time job but they most likely have a nutritionist. Pretty much any Hollywood action hero of the last 30 years can easily be placed in this category… except maybe Kung Fu Panda. Say what you want, Kung Fu Panda’s still in better shape than Jack Black.
The Surgery General: Typically this person has had so many sports-related operations that you can’t tell where one scar stops and the next begins. They’re still out there giving it their all but, basically, their bodies are being held together by spit paste and prayer. Short Matt being a fine example of this specimen.
and last but not least…
The Silver Superman: This marvel of nature defies all laws of physics and aging. They’re usually found at the gym at the crack of dawn bench-pressing the equivalent of 20 cases of prune juice or running on the treadmill like Death or Carol Channing is chasing them. The poster boy for these Gray-haired Gargantuans is, of course, Seinfeld’s Izzy Mandelbaum. “Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!”
“You think you’re better than me? It’s go time.”
OK, that’s it for this week. I know this had very little to do with sports but, what did you expect? It’s March friggin’ 3rd, aka the sports dead-zone. Besides, my ulterior motive for writing this column was in hopes that Sam’s-a-Fan or West Coast Craig would someday pen something truly hilarious on the denizens of the race track.