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But They Don’t Know Your Name.



Every gym has shifts where different people show up the same time every day.

Regulars know each other by their routines, clothes, and attitude.

One man calls anyone in a gray hoodie Rocky, then slips in a Philly accent and raises his hands over his head.

This is a very fit man, one who does sets of muscle-ups, a sort of pull-up that ends when you’ve got straight arms pointing down and the bar at your waist.

He’s also an accomplished hand-walker. He can pop and hold a hand stand anywhere and walk calmly on his hands.

He teaches attractive women his technique.

His name: The Handy Man.

A tall man wears the same gear everyday: white t-shirt with gray gym shorts he’s sewn a back pocket on. Because of his height he looks like a praying mantis on cardio machines, all knees and elbows while he hunches over.

The unfortunate part of his gym membership is he works up a sweat before stretching and lifting. Because of his gray shorts he looks like he’s wet himself. A dark half-circle of sweat begins at each hip and drops to crotch level.

With that look, he finds a mat to lay on. It’s working for him, keeping thin and all, but not so much for anyone looking for a spare mat.

His name: Depends.

A woman, a runner, comes in to finish her workout after running. She’s not much of a sweater.

She combines all sorts of dance and yoga moves with light weights. Watching her makes others want to try her routine. But they don’t dare. It’s too hard.

The best they can do is copy her determined look. Never a sign of fatigue or exertion, just a stoic face that says, “I’ll get through this.”

Her balance, toughness, and solemn dedication set her apart.

Her name: The Finisher. You’d be finished if you did her workout.

Every gym has an unofficial mayor. He’s friendly, has a good laugh, and lifts like a madman.

He helps everyone, running to spot the bench press if someone struggles, offering a helping hand on the pull-up bar.

You can hear him woof when he’s repping on his pec-day, doing half-lifts on the bench with 315 lbs. Anytime you see an Olympic bar with three 45 lb wheels on each end, it’s 315.

He helps others with their lifting technique, being careful to teach the right way.

Unfortunately, everyone he helps is doing it all wrong. They need more help, and he gives it. Things go sideways when he helps too much. If you don’t follow his advice, you’re shunned.

His name: The Way, as in his way or the highway.

One man shows up in running shorts from 1975. Short shorts, an elite college t-shirt, and high socks complete his ensemble.

He reads and spins and hits the locker room where he goes buck naked to the sink area and grooms himself for the day. Anyone walking in sees him first in all his pasty glory.

The naked part is one thing, but he’s also barefoot on a public floor. Most people do than just once and they’ve got the creeping crud crawling from their feet and up their legs.

Not this guy. Then he wraps up by getting dressed like a Wall Street commuter in NYC, complete with bow tie and suspenders.

His name: The Broker. He breaks all the hygiene rules and gets away with it.

If fitness is a struggle, ease the burden by noticing how others manage. After a time, you’ll have your own gym name. You just won’t know it.




About David Gillaspie
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