Rantastic Gym Stories: Texty McTexterface

I entered the gym today feeling excited about my workout. It’s the fourth and last gym day of the week, my circuit training day. This is something that I’ve added into my regular weekly routine recently and it’s been a real nice change of pace.

The thing about circuit training is that you have to keep moving. It’s frustrating enough that I can’t really do a true circuit…the interruption by other gym members who, rightfully, want to work on a piece of equipment causes issues with my flow.

young man lounging on a piece of gym equipment, texting with caption that says "Everyday is Thumbs Day"
Don’t be this guy.

So, I make up for it by doing four sets on each machine and limiting myself to 30 seconds between sets. It’s not non-stop movement, but I keep my heart rate up where it needs to be and the end result is good enough for me.

Anyhow, I jump onto the Leg Press machine, and I notice there’s a guy on the next machine I need to use, the Ab Crunch machine. He’s an older guy, probably in his forties. He’s kind of just draped over the device, rocking the swivel chair from side-to-side, texting on his phone. He’s wearing a light blue t-shirt that strains a bit at the center. The word NOPE is printed on his t-shirt, distorted bold white letters curving, ironically, around his dad gut.

I can see my immediate future and it’s already got me a little aggravated.

I move the weight key to 300 pounds and press out a quick 12 reps, then enter my results on my tracker while eyeballing NOPE Guy. He’s still sittin’…still swivelin’. Given the bemused smile on his face, he’s obviously flirting with someone.


Thirty seconds pass and I knock out another 12 reps. Then do two more sets. This guy is now officially blocking me and I’m perturbed.

I take a deep breath. I remind myself about First World Problems. I tell myself not to sweat the little things. Gotta be a better human.

Oh hey! I realize that I should add some Toe Presses into the mix here while I’m on this particular machine. There we go! Take a negative and turn it into a positive!

So while I’m taking much more than 30 seconds to enter a new exercise in my routine, my fiancée’s pretty face appears to my left.

She smiles, kisses me, informs me that her three hydromassage sessions were so awesome and relaxing, then notices me glaring. She looks over at that guy, gives him her most disapproving, hard-ass mom/art teacher glare, then turns back to me. “I’m going for a walk at Deepwood. I’ll see you at home, Babe.” Kiss kiss and she leaves.

And that dingleberry NOPE Guy remains unphased, despite Babe’s murderous laser eyes. He’s still on the Ab Crunch machine and hasn’t used it for anything more than a prop for his lazy ass during the entire time I’ve been there.

It’s now been at least a five minute break, which is a lot longer than a 30 second one, so I start to bang out the Toe Presses…four full sets of them at 300 lbs.

I get off the Leg Press machine, wipe it down, then shoot NOPE Guy another glare as I bypass him and get on the Seated Row machine in the precious 30 seconds I have to move to the next exercise. Four more sets.

Nothing has changed over at camp Ab Crunch. The urge to scream “Why are you even here?!” is so real.

Move to Seated Leg Curls…then to Biceps Curls…then to Triceps Extensions…I look over again at NOPE Guy.

Oh wait! Hold up now! He’s moving more than his thumbs!

He grunts out a set of 10. I get hopeful. Then those hopes are immediately squashed as he returns to his phone, chuckling at something on the screen, blissfully unaware of the fact that his inaction is causing me to seethe.

I move to the Leg Extension machine and man, I’m now, perhaps, unreasonably irritated. I wonder if my T levels are a little high because I really want to throw something at this clown.

I bang out two sets then see him meander over to grab a wet wipe to clean his machine. He finishes as I complete my fourth set of leg extensions.

This sloth sat on that mother lovin’ machine for over thirty minutes and did a total of 10 reps.

To be fair, I totally understand when someone has to park on a piece of equipment for awhile. This happens often with cables, for example, because there are so many angles you can hit a muscle group with on a cable machine. When possible, it’s efficient to knock out three or four exercises at one station.

I totally understand entering data into your tracker or making adjustments to the app you’re using between sets.

Hell, even dashing off a quick message or snapping a gym selfie is fine…if you’re doing it between sets and your rest period is a reasonable 1-5 minutes.

This guy leaves me fuming because there’s an actual LOUNGE area at this gym. It has a couch, a comfy chair, and a coffee table. We can actually see it clearly from where we are in the gym. NOPE Guy, take your loafing ass over there to text out your midlife crisis. While you’re there, you may want to ponder why you’re not making any progress.

In general, however, many people who go to the gym are on a tight timeline. We have jobs we have to get to, families and pets we need to be mindful of, or, basically, a life to freakin’ live outside of the gym. Lollygagging around and blocking access to something when you’re not actually using it productively shows such a clear lack of awareness, consideration, and etiquette.

I’ve been a gym rat since I was 13 years old…old enough to officially use the weight room at the YMCA by myself. I’ve sweated it out in high school weight rooms, college weight rooms, my first pure meathead gym where the owner actually built all the equipment himself, Albany Fitness, Downing’s Gym, Gold’s Gym…many different gyms. I’ve been a gym manager and personal trainer. In all of these places, up through the 80’s, 90’s, and early 00’s people just didn’t do shit like this because it’s the antithesis of the culture.

Today we have bargain gyms…franchises and chains of low cost facilities…which are great! They’re well-lit, very clean, attractive, spacious, and the equipment is usually in pretty good shape. These facilities aren’t really intended for a particular sub-culture that operates under a fairly standard ethos of hustle and consideration. Instead they operate under a culture of I pay for this membership and will do whatever the hell I want.


Let’s set it straight. Paying for a membership entitles a member to certain things. That’s what “entitled” means…it means you’ve paid for something and you should get what you pay for. Members are entitled to come into the gym during business hours. They are entitled to use the facilities…the equipment, the restrooms and showers. Other members are also entitled to use the equipment and when a NOPE Guy blocks another member from using something that he’s clearly not using for its intended purpose, it seriously diminishes the vibe of the place.

I give a little grace to teenagers; they’re young and still figuring things out. I should not, however, have to tell someone in their 40’s that this kind of behavior really isn’t cool.

Please. If you’re in the gym I go to…if you’re in any gym…don’t be a NOPE Guy.

Published by Jonah Sheridan Fenn

Nerd herder, word wrangler, working on the next chapter...

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