Among the 58 million gym users in the US, the split between men and women is about 50/50, and among the 29 million men who regularly use gyms and fitness centers, there are certain character traits that will be very familiar to other members.
The industry is very happy that some of these hardcore members are turning up week in and week out to get their cardio on or to pump some iron. Thanks to their membership payments and personal trainer bills, the fitness industry has US-generated $31 billion in revenue in 2016/17–a figure that is forecast to keep growing over the next five years.
Personal training is a big money spinner in itself. There are nearly 300,000 personal trainers in the US, providing bespoke training routines and personal motivation to their clients and earning an average of $55,000 while they’re at it. Of course, personal trainers to the stars can expect to earn significantly more than that! Well, dealing with different behaviors is also part of the package.
Whether you’re a trainer, fellow guy, or a fitness-loving female, you have to deal with other gym users, no matter how unusual or unpleasant their habits are. Check out the list below and see how many of these guys you recognize from your own gym or fitness center.
15 Newbies, Especially In January
Usually spotted in the first month of the year, January, when New Year's resolutions to get fit and lose some weight see new gym memberships soar, the newbies tend to be either a little on the large side or super skinny guys looking to bulk up. Easily identified by their nervousness around the cardio machines and particularly around the heavy lifting section of the gym, most of these newbies will have likely disappeared by the end of February when they forget about their New Year's resolutions. Some will stick it out, changing from newbies into one of the other guys on this list. It's true that not so many will stick it out, but there will be some.
14 The Not-So-Strong Guy
It can be intimidating for guys to hang around the free weights section of the gym, where the strongest men usually spend a bulk of their time lifting huge weights, apparently without even breaking a sweat (we're not sure how that's even possible). There are also some guys who man up to their inadequacies happily starting at the bottom and working their way up, while others take a much different approach. You can always spot the fake strong guy at your gym, though. He’s probably the one who loads up the weights to a ridiculous level, barely making the machine or bar move an inch before he has to try and let go.
13 The Phone Fanatic
It's no secret, we're in the year 2018, and we’re all obsessed with our smartphones, but there are some guys who seem unable to put down their device even when they’re working out. Each to their own, you might say. While these guys are chatting, texting, or surfing the net, they are also hogging a valuable gym machine or piece of equipment. There is nothing more annoying than waiting to use a piece of kit, only to have the previous occupant sit on it while he ignores you and either checks his messages or takes a call, oblivious to the fact that other people are queuing up while he chats.
12 The Guy Who Struggles With Mass And Muscle
Everyone knows that muscle weighs more than fat, which is why people who are dieting and exercising can often end up disappointed that they have piled on the pounds despite the fact that they are getting healthier and slimmer (fun tip: they might want to avoid stepping on the scale for a little while). However, there are some guys at the gym–usually found in the weights corner–who take the muscle/mass comparison too far. These guys are incredibly strong, piling the weights onto bars and machines alike, but they are also strangely fat. It seems that no matter how much they exercise they do, they are always going to be big and brawny.
11 The Model Material
Girls are often accused of using the gym as a fashion runway, spending a fortune on designer exercise wear and then barely breaking a sweat. However, some guys can be just as bad as girls. The wannabe model is easily spotted among the guys who are actually there to work out. As well as wearing pristine and stylish workout clothes, he will usually be seen hanging around the mats, where he can do a lot of stretching and a lot of sitting around–all the while looking like he is building up to exercising–whereas in reality, he doesn’t want to spoil his designer gear, or ruin his perfect hairstyle by getting it sweaty and dishevelled.
10 The Pack Animals
And it's true, girls are NOT the only ones who see going to the gym or going to a fitness class as something of a social experience. Just check out the groups of guys in the free weights section who work out together every single day. While there may be a good reason for this–after all, having someone to “spot” you while you’re moving up in weights and reps is just common sense–they do seem to be there to give each other a bit of moral support, as well as physical support, and can probably create an intimidating atmosphere for anyone wanting to try out free weights for the first time. They are almost like an intimating wolf pack.
9 The Gym Joker
Most women would likely agree that a sense of humor is an attractive quality a guy can have, but there is a time and a place to crack jokes, and the gym is not one of them. It’s a sad truth that gym jokers tend to be young men usually working out with their mates and that their idea of a good gag is to play a horrendous (and sometimes rather disgusting) prank on one of their pals. They also seem to think that it’s funny to mess around on the gym machines, when in fact the only funny thing is when these gags suddenly go wrong and the treadmill shoots them across the room at a rate of knots… #SorryNotSorry.
8 The Flirty Fellas
Men are far from alone when it comes to flirting at the gym. In fact, 50% of members admit that they go to the gym to check out members of the opposite s*x (or same s*x, depending on their preference). A survey by fitness company Nuffield in the UK even found that 10% of their members were actually living with someone that they met at the gym, which just goes to show that it's true what they say, the couple who works out together stays together. A bit of flirting is harmless fun, just as long as the guy takes the message if you’re not interested and doesn't keep trying to bother you while you're working out.
7 The Guy Notorious For Unwanted Advances
Unfortunately, there are far too many guys at the gym (like everywhere else) who just do not take the hint when a girl gives them the (very clear) brush-off. Some sleazy guys take to hanging around a girl’s machine, trying to chat while she’s in the middle of a set and very clearly out of breath from actually working out. Others invade her personal space to try and help her weights, even though she does not look like she needs any help at all. And let’s not even get started on those guys who see it as their job to mansplain exercise machines to any girl who walks through the door, regardless of the fact that she’s probably been going to the gym for much longer than he has!
6 The Pumped-up Guy
There are big guys at the gym, and then there are the ridiculously oversize weightlifters. You know, the ones who could basically be professional bodybuilders and who have probably had to resort to a little chemical help in order to achieve their ridiculous (and impossible) looking physique. One million Americans admit to using anabolic steroids illegally, although the true figure is probably much higher. It’s difficult to spot steroid users, but chances are that anyone with a freakishly muscular body or guys who seem to making suspiciously quick progress with their workouts have been using a little something else to build on their gym work.
5 Mr Know-It-All
We’ve already touched on the sleazy mansplainers–guys who feel the need to explain in detail how gym machines work so that they can get up close and personal with girls at the gym–but the know-it-alls are almost as annoying, even if they’re not as sleazy as those other guys. These are the men who feel the need to tell everyone, male or female, why their workout is wrong and what they should be doing differently instead. They’re usually wannabe personal trainers who have zero qualifications but still think that they know everything and anything. Here's a clever piece of advice: just ignore their patronizing advice and carry on with your workout.
4 The Zen Master
It might be true that Yoga and Pilates classes tend to be the dominion of women at the gym, even though men don’t realize that they are missing out on a great toning and strengthening workout class. However, most yoga classes will have at least one guy in them—he likes to go up front and center, showing off the authentic yoga pants he probably bought on his retreat in India and tying his (more likely than not) long hair up into a practical man bun for the entire duration of the class. He might wish that he was living in a 1970’s hippie commune, but a yoga class at his local gym is the next best thing. Don't even get us started on a hot yoga class...
3 The Gentleman
Don’t let this list put you off going to the gym—there are some gentlemen out there. Gents at the gym are pretty easy to spot. They’re the guys who give a polite smile to your face (and don’t look anywhere else!) when handing over equipment or waiting for a machine, and they always (without fail) wipe down anything they have been using so you don’t have to do it yourself or be grossed out by the remaining sweat. You can rest assured that they won’t try and chat you up or tell you how to work out, although they will politely intervene if they are worried that you are going to hurt yourself by using a machine incorrectly. But you could tell it is genuine.
2 The Guy Going Through A Midlife Crisis
These guys are also more commonly seen in January (like the newbies), although as a midlife crisis can hit at any time, they can make an appearance at any time throughout the year. As the title suggests, they are guys of a certain age, usually in terrible shape and often without a clue on what they are doing when they first walk into the gym. They have probably spent a fortune on expensive gym gear that are completely inappropriate for what they are planning to do, and they will be the ones shelling out on several pricey personal training sessions every week. Still, as midlife crises go, getting fit isn’t a bad one!
1 The Guy Living Past Glories
Former athletes may be more of a rarity today, but they still pop up at their local gym from time to time. They may be a little older, but they are no wiser and are trying desperately to hold on to their past successes by showing the young guys how it’s done—usually with pretty embarrassing results. Even though they’re now middle-aged, you’ll see them squeezed into their old athletic jerseys from school and college, wearing their past glories like a (not so subtle) badge of honor. It may be a tragic sight, but at least give them some credit for getting back in the gym and trying to get back into shape. It's not easy for anyone.