FITNESS Who’s who in the zoo?
Spot the Swarm, the Angry Roider and the Lurker. When on a safari in your gym, keep a keen eye out for the wildlife!
We are nothing but slaves to the gym – and the occasional locker room perve. For those who hit the gym regularly, you know the names of the receptionists and trainers; you prefer a particular weight bench and stationary bike, you even have your favourite locker. You could find your way from the lat pulldowns to the bench press blindfolded and walking backwards, but have you ever stopped to take a good long look at the fellow beasts drinking from your local exercise-hole?
Behold, beware and be rewarded as I present the Gym Wildlife Spotting Guide, a handbook to identifying the thrilling spectrum of animals known as Gym Users. The Chicken Legs. This well-studied breed may be found on the bench press doing chest, lat pulldowns working out his back, or the preacher bench doing curls. He is master of all machines except those dedicated to legs. In the event of encountering a hostile specimen, one need only say “legs day” to both confuse and frighten. The Angry Roider. Commonly mistaken for a spotted castrated bull, this common creature blusters its way through equipment in the pursuit of sheer muscularity at the expense of social niceties. There are scant few pleasant aspects to this creature in full rut. He will throw weights, grunt, intimidate smaller species and mark his territory with greasy sweat pools. Treat with caution. The Lycra Lover. This species hasn’t realised that spandex went out with in the 1990s and still clings to the outfits that cling to him. In all the wrong ways. Often spotted slinking between light weights and the cardio equipment, he feels at home in the class setting as well as on the exercise bike. If you spot the sheen of ultra tight fabric on human flesh, it is considered polite to simply look away. The Chatty Roider. In contrast to his angry brethren, the Chatty Roider can most often be spotted hanging next to or in the squat cage or bench press. This prize has two distinguishing features: the massive size and vascularity of a Classic Roider; and a penchant for chatting to a fellow gaggle of Roiders about all things bodybuilding. It’s a rare sight to catch him perform activity other than chatting in the two hours he roosts at the gym per night. Some variants spend a deal of time preening, flexing various muscles or lifting string tops to observe abdominal definition. Do not attempt awed admiration as you may not be able to free yourself from his advice until closing time. The Supplement Stacker. You can spot the SS by the fine coat of powder he is covered in, and the ubiquitous container of bright green, orange or yellow liquid he constantly sips. Scientists believe that this breed cannot function at all without a carefully measured pre-, intra-, post- and post-postworkout combination of pills, powders and liquids. Take care not to mention your lack of knowledge about supplements within earshot or you may be forced to become an inadvertent Supplement Stacker yourself. The Inadvertent Dancer. This specimen is remarkably more common than anticipated. You may have even been one of these. More a fast-attacking muscular disorder than an actual species, the Inadvertent Dancer can be seen especially in homo-heavy gyms unconsciously gyrating in time to a bubblegum rhythm apparently beaming into their heads via earphones. The Inadvertent Dancer can be distinguished from the related Back-Up Wannabe by their reaction once spotted. The former will blush and look somewhat sheepish; the latter will keep right on twerking it, girl. The Social Butterfly. Similar in nature, but different in stature to the Chatty Roider. This genotype can be found at the same time each week, wearing something flash and flitting around hummingbird-like to engage anyone who makes eye contact in small talk. Occasionally a flock of two or more will coalesce into one loud Squawk, which accomplishes very little else other than ‘catching up’. The Newbie Trainer. You can spot this fauna by the intoxicating sheen of enthusiasm and aroma of over-enthusiastic interest in each gym member. Usually quite buff and often highly attractive, their shirts are tight and their smiles ready – which sometimes make up for their incessant revelations about how to improve your workout form. A successful Newbie Trainer will soon have an eager flock all his own. Not to be confused with The Jaded Trainer who has been there, done that and owned the T-shirt before management and years of split shifts broke his spirit. The Jaded Trainer has a more established flock, and engages less with gym-goers and more with other Jaded Trainers with whom he
shares a special, weary bond.
The Class Guy.
Rarely spotted anywhere outside of group classes, the Class Guy can be identified by his cheery familiarity with a large segment of the female gym population, tendency to smile and high-five; a lower level of muscularity and a higher level of fitness. He prides himself on routine, schedule, being in the front row and mastering the 160 bpm Body Attack track without breaking a sweat. Take care when approaching – they form tight cliques and pairbond with their respective Aerobics Demigod (a variety of group fitness trainer). The Lurker. This person seems to require large amounts of preening and self-maintenance, given their time spent in bathrooms, change rooms, steam rooms or open-door showers. While he may at times fit into other families (from Avid Weightlifter to Reads Magazines On Cardio Equipment), the Lurker primarily awaits his prey in the non-exercise areas of the gym and takes an inordinate amount of time getting dressed and undressed, all the while making uncomfortable attempts at eye (or body part) contact.