Funny People at the Health Club

I work out regularly at a local health club. You might assume it’s because of my passion for wellness, my desire to stay trim, and my commitment to quality of life. It isn’t.    

I like watching the people. 

There’s no better place to people watch than a health club. Every known Freudian behavior is demonstrated along with many that haven’t yet been categorized. 

I consider them laboratories of human behavior. Observation spots if you’re a psychologist, comedian, or copywriter needing a blog post. If I hadn’t worked out the other day you’d be looking at white space. I know…you’re thinking…and this is better? 

So I’m on the elliptical, listening to my I-pod, chugging along at a consistent pace. At least, I thought so. Then this guy with a Type A personality gets on the machine next to me and immediately kicks into high gear. Let’s call him Get Ahead Harry. 

In 10 seconds he’s huffing and puffing and moving at the speed of…okay, it was hard to estimate the speed because the obnoxious huffing and puffing was distracting. But I was suddenly worried that Harry was going to over take me—if that’s possible on a stationary elliptical. And I did have a 15 minute head start. 

Now I’m an old jock. Still competitive. Still ego driven. I didn’t appreciate the feeling I was suddenly in a race—especially when I had already established a comfortable rhythm to Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

It called for an intervention. I looked over and said, “Hey, where are you going in such a hurry?” 

Harry looks at me like I’m crazy. Maybe because I had just broken the unwritten health club rule that frowns on initiating conversations with a stranger while he’s exhibiting strange behavior. Maybe because he thought it was a crazy question. Hard to know. I was, after all, in a health club. Where the pursuit of physical wellness is a given, but mental stability is questionable. Either way I didn’t care.  

 “Well, maybe you should pick up the pace so you can you can hurry up and go nowhere,” I suggested. 

I guess Harry didn’t hear me, didn’t get the play on words, or just considered me socially reprehensible. He immediately switched to a stationary bike. Watch out Lance Armstrong. 

Of course, maybe it was just his contrast to the Angelina Jolie look alike on the other side of him. Angie’s graceful strides were slow, measured, and carefully choreographed to maximize her form. Sweating was absolutely out of the question and even a slight glow was discouraged with the constant, delicate pat of a towel across her forehead. 

Personally, I have a hard time calling it a work-out. But Angie gets extra credit for the increased oxygen consumption used to chatter on her cell phone most of the time to someone named “Sweetie.” Don’t think it was Brad Pitt. 

In the back, hovering around the free weights was Brutus. Serious muscle that flexed frequently in the reflection of the big mirror on the wall. He communicates in guttural language, the primitive nature of brute strength by an accompanying level of noise. Every increase to the stack of weight is announced by level of grunt. The more the weight, the louder the grunt. 

However, his breaths with each lift are a finely tuned demonstration of balance and beauty—they’ll knock you sideways and curl your hair. And if that doesn’t gain your attention, at the end of the final monumental strain, there’s the victorious slam of weights to the floor with a ground shattering force that registers on the Richter scale. 

But the most solitary person in the health club is the guy that ate 4 burritos for lunch. I’ll call him…Fargo. He might actually be a great guy…who could improve his diet. I just don’t have the nostrils to get that close and find out. 

I’m sure he usually conforms to most forms of accepted social practice. But when you’re working out and there’s a push a both ends, something has to give. We all gave him lots of space.  

I could go on about other interesting characters at the health club. Maybe another time. I had to cut my work out short this week. Between Brutus and Fargo I only got to 3 machines. And just wait till I talk about the grocery store…

    You can leave a response.

  1. submitted by Dave Stacy - on January 17 2011

    I needed a few laughsoutloud tonight. 🙂

  2. submitted by Ken Brown - on February 16 2011

    I think you would characterize me as one of those old huffing and puffing old men. I was on the treadmill yesterday running my workout. Then some young buck hops on the treadmill next to me. He was doing some speed workout. I look over at him and he has the speed setting at 6 minute per mile pace.

    Well, I have my pride. So, the next thing I know I have cranked my machine to 6 minute per mile pace. After 2 tenths of a mile I began to recall the scene in the recent movie about the racehorse Secretariat. The trainer is talking to Secretariat’s jockey and say’s, “We can’t have you pushing the horse so his heart explodes like the other horse you rode.”

    I am alive today to tell you that my heart didn’t explode. LOL

    • submitted by ChipTudor - on February 16 2011

      I’m with you, Ken. I just keep plodding along. Thankful I can do what I can do. I also swim laps in an indoor pool. Some of the young guys that lap me 3-4 times in 5 minutes create wakes that practically swamp me. Perhaps another post?

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