10 of the worst (and best people) you encounter at the gym

6/28/04 Detail of the weights used on barbells at body pump class at the Uptown YMCA in the Wachovia Building on College St. Body Pump is a group exercise class which is choreographed resistance training in a group setting involving the use of barbells with added weights that are adjustable between different types of exercises. Body Pump builds muscular endurance and burns calories. According to the article, classes use added weights of roughly 2.2, 5.5 and 11 pounds. DIEDRA LAIRD/STAFF

I reluctantly begin each morning with what I hope will prove a refreshing workout before heading to the office. The rush of adrenaline replaces the need for an expensive coffee, and I feel as though the toughest part of the day has already passed.

Anyone who’s spent more than a day in any fitness center will likely understand the frustration with certain individuals (looking at you, Squat Rack Thief), but without the Workout Buddy or the Class Motivator, you may not perform to your peak ability.

Prior to sharing my opinions, I will say I have been the Bench-Claimer and the Barely-Moving-in-the-Running-Lane-on-the-Track. I’m the basic girl doing BBG in the corner to achieve Kayla-Itsines-level abs, and I’ve probably gotten in your way one time or another.

That being said, here’s my roundup of the best and worst people at the gym:

The worst

The Elevation Mask

Via @thedarkknighttrilogy on Instagram

The Elevation Mask believes the second floor of the gym is akin to the tip of a mountain. For peak performance, one must restrict all airflow in an Uptown Charlotte gym. Because everyone knows you can’t get #gains with ample air. The Elevation Mask parades around Bane-style, looking to crush Batman and his workout.

Note: Those training for an actual endeavor (e.g. military, competitions, etc.) are exempt from this facetious rant. YOU GO GLEN COCO.

The Sweat Puddle Leaver

Nothing quite gives you that warm feeling like a fresh puddle of unwiped sweat. The Sweat Puddle Leaver knows how much you adore mornings, and she’s here to spread the love. Ten sets of crunches, seated curls, and chest presses later, and she’s whipped up the most beautiful liquid concoction for the next visitor. She’s wearing a crisp white towel around her neck, but it’s purely for decoration, not for wiping down the equipment. Wiping equipment is for peasants, and she’s the queen of the gym. Sweat on, your highness.

The Squat Rack Thief

Leg day is every day for the Squat Rack Thief. You don’t get horrifically ripped quads by sharing the coveted rack, and you lose out on precious gains when you let other gym peasants work in with you. The Squat Rack Thief always arrives exactly a minute before you every day, snagging the only rack in the gym for 2.5 hours’ use. Today’s exercise? 2,000 squats with 15-minute selfie breaks between each set.

The Always on Fleek

I’m going to be honest and say this one is written out of pure jealousy. Nothing quite makes me feel like a sloppy sack of sweat than The Always on Fleek. Her outfit is straight out of a fitness magazine – her sports bra matches her shoelaces, and her smooth ponytail makes you rethink the messy bun atop your head. She doesn’t sweat, because why ruin the $100 fitness outfit? Make Lululemon proud, girl. And as much as I hate to say it, WORK IT.

The Grunter

Nothing makes me quite as happy as the person I can hear over my headphones. Not only is form questionable, but the extreme noises emitted from The Grunter make me wonder if he’s okay. He comes in many styles, ranging from the low growl to the awkward, high-pitched sigh. The only thing more painful than ten sets of squats is the savage sounds emitted from The Grunter. He’s everywhere.

The best:

The Workout Buddy

Via Instagram @sweatnetclt

This girl sticks with you through all the sweat. She’s right beside you, wondering how many more burpees she can handle before she keels over. She’ll make you perform one more push up, or inspire you to run faster than you thought you could to keep up. For my BBG girls, she’ll make you finish that last set of jump squats, no matter how badly your legs are shaking. She’s your sweaty bestie. Thanks, girl.

The Headphone Lender

It’s cardio day and you forgot your headphones. Now you’re faced with the option of sitting out the exercise or engaging in the unthinkable – a run without music. Luckily, the Headphone Lender comes to your rescue. She’s done with cardio and only working her abs, and she offers you the next best thing to extra guac – she asks if you’d like to borrow her headphones. Unfortunately, you still have to run, but at least now you can stride to your ’90s jams.

The Class Motivator

This person restores your faith in humanity. If you’re like me, you’re crabby at the gym – you don’t want to talk, you just want to suffer in silence until it’s over. But The Class Motivator ensures you finish your workout with a positive attitude.

He’s teaching the impossible body pump class, and you can’t imagine succeeding in another lap around the track. But he sees past the sad wheezing and sweat to give you a high five. He tells you that you’re a rock star. And suddenly, you can run another lap on the track. You don’t need the trainer who barks orders military-style, you need The Class Motivator. (Shout out to David at the Childress Klein YMCA for making me run laps with a smile! You’re the real MVP).

The Hairdryer Sharer

It’s Monday morning, and the giant hairball that’s been silently collecting in your hairdryer smells like it’s burning. As much as you’d like to fish the burnt hair from the hot metal prongs, you don’t have time, because your meeting starts in 30 minutes. You’re pacing the locker room in your towel, wishing all of the gym’s resident hairdryers weren’t in use.

And then she speaks: The Hairdryer Sharer. She’s been in your shoes, and she understands the importance of dry, silky hair before a big presentation. She offers you her hairdryer. And then you walk through the doors of the conference room like Sandra Bullock in “Miss Congeniality” post-makeover. You got this, all thanks to The Hairdryer-Sharer. Pay it forward, ladies!

The Front Desk Greeter

Often overlooked, the Front Desk Greeter starts your day with a smile. This adorable older woman asks you how your morning is going, calls you “sweetie,” and bids you an enjoyable workout.

On the way out, the other greeter assists in validating your parking ticket, because you earned a college degree, but can’t work an idiot-proof machine. He helps you find your key in the lost and found, because you’re a mess and can’t keep track of your items.

Here’s to you, Front Desk Greeter. You may not feel appreciated, but we need you!

Honorable Mentions:

The worst

The Towel-less Wonder in the Locker Room

The Creeper (also known as The Only-Works-the-Eyes)

The Weight Dropper

The Music Out Louder

The best

The Non-Creepy Spotter

The Ponytail-Holder Lender

The Friendly Form Corrector

All of you, the best, the worst — I see you. And I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had my share of time on the “worst” list (when I’ve reluctantly been the Music Out Louder the few times my headphones died). And I always aspire to be on the “best.” 

At least until it’s time for circuit training.

Featured photo: Diedra Laird/Charlotte Observer


  1. 100% Weight dropper should be in the top 5. There is nothing gained by dropping weights except to piss everyone off, especially the gym owner.

    source: work at a gym

    • I actually strongly considered this one, Jennifer! Nothing like the sound of too much weight slamming onto the floor at 6am…ask for a spot, bro.


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