It’s been a while since I’ve publicly berated groups of individuals for making poor choices in social settings. I think the last time I climbed atop my soapbox was for an article I wrote about men’s footwear and how their shoe decisions drastically impact my everyday life. (In case you missed that one, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Don’t wear CROCS if you enjoy female interaction in any form.)
For the past few months I’ve been bottling up my qualms with everyone’s gym attire, but I can’t let you people fly under the radar any longer. So I’m just gonna go ahead and set a few ground rules now before things get ugly around the bench press machine.
Author’s Note: All of the below rules are based upon actual encounters and experiences I’ve had at the gym. I’ve been silently observing from afar over the course of many months and, unable to suppress my indignation any longer, these commandments were born. Men: listen up. It would behoove you to take heed. I’m doing a lot of you a huge favor here, and I’m doing it purely out of the goodness of my heart (and also because I’m sick of looking at your black calf-socks while I’m trying to do crunches.) If any of you take offense to any of the below commandments, please take it up with the patrons of your local gym, as they are the real criminals here.
1. First and foremost, thou shall not, under any circumstances, don the footwear abomination known as “Vibrams.”
For those of you who are still pure and haven’t been corrupted yet, Vibrams are those five-finger toe shoes that really aren’t shoes at all. In my head, even though I know the two brands are totally unrelated, I view these as the athletic spin-offs of CROCS. Like, if you deem it acceptable to wake up and present yourself to the world in Vibrams, then I can also assume that you have CROCS in every color that you wear to the bar, along with your thumb ring and Bluetooth headset.
Unless it’s possible that at some point you might have to sprint up the side of the gym wall, these shoes are wasted.
2. Thou shall let thou’s head breathe freely.
This means that there should be no wearing of any sort of visor hat while working out, especially turned around backwards, and super-especially if it has any variation of the Affliction logo engrained anywhere on it. (Yes, under the brim counts as“anywhere on it.” I will find you, and I will see it.) Also, strange bandana-like fabrics wrapped around your head will not be tolerated. The only man who can remotely pull this look off is the eternal eye-candy known as Hulk Hogan, so don’t even try.
3. Thou shall not broadcast the fact that you are a tool.
This is a broad commandment that covers many facets of gym attire abuse. But the most recent and relevant example comes in the form of the man who enjoys wearing his bright neon “What’s Your O-Face?” T-shirt while strutting around and rubbing his biceps. If you are that man, the next time you’re driving to the gym and you start to see the YMCA sign in the distance, promptly make an illegal U-turn and retreat back to your mother’s basement for the next three to five years.
4. Thou shall not rub thou’s supreme athleticism in my face.
And I’m serious about this one. The other day I watched a man with a negative percentage of body fat running fast and furiously on the treadmill … backwards.
And to that man I’d like to say:
Stop. Just, stop.
There is no need for this. I can assure you that you are making enemies by the millisecond in the amateur peons around you who ignorantly insist on running facing forwards. The entire gym isn’t watching you in awe and adoration of your supreme athleticism; the entire gym is watching you because they’re secretly praying you trip and fall, tearing several vital ligaments on the way down.
5. Thou shall not bite off more than thou can chew.
This is mainly directed to the pipsqueak with LMS (Little Man Syndrome) who chained a barbell to his waist the other day and proceeded to attempt chin-ups. He was struggling something awful and I was instantly annoyed at his presumptuous undertaking, yet I still found myself silently pulling for him from across the gym. “You can do it, Little Man!” I kept chanting inside my head. “Don’t let these other beefcakes intimidate you!” I was already emotionally involved at this point, and there was no going back now.
The problem came when Little Man could only do two and a half chin-ups before dejectedly giving up, and a little part of me died right there on the yoga mat.
6. Thou shall fight the urge to stare at oneself in the mirrors next to the treadmills while running.
There is a guy at my gym who literally cannot take his eyes off of his own reflection when he’s jogging (and no, surprisingly, it’s not Clay. C’mon guys, Clay doesn’t jog. Clay spends his time at the gym doing other productive things. I know because I’ve seen it. The breakdown is as follows: 25% Tweeting, 70% talking to everyone else who is working out around him, and 5% actual attempted workout. It is amazing.)
Gym narcissism is obnoxious, but more importantly it makes me look bad because I absolutely cannot be in your presence without rolling my eyes to the point where I appear to be having a seizure. And that’s just not a good look for me guys. You don’t have to watch yourself; I’m already watching you, and it’s not looking good.
7. Thou shall keep in mind that I do not know what you look like naked, and I’d prefer to keep it that way.
If you feel it is okay to walk around the locker room wearing nothing but a smile, then you are wrong.
Now I don’t know what goes down in the men’s locker room, but I’ve had my fair share of traumatic encounters over in the women’s. Listen, just because public nudity is not technically illegal within the confines of the locker room does not mean it isn’t illegal within the confines of acceptable social behavior. I realize that the shower is probably a good 20 feet away from your locker, and the option of casually strolling naked (or hurriedly bouncing naked) from the shower to said locker is alive and well, looming on the horizon, ready for the taking. However, this is where the omnipotent magic of towels comes in.
Towels are good! Towels are not the enemy!
And, in what may be their most impressive quality yet, towels are extremely portable. The beauty in this is that you can absolutely bring the towel with you to the shower.
(Editor’s note from a male perspective: men, stop putting on your shirts before you put on your pants. Please. We beg you.)
8. Thou shall not emit disturbing grunts while lifting heavy weights.
It’s a rather strange phenomena that, while the grunter should be the one feeling embarrassed, it’s actually all of us innocent bystanders who end up nervously shifting our eyes and fidgeting uncomfortably when we’re within earshot of you. Even Gucci Mane yelling obscenities at maximum level capacity from my earphones can’t drown out the unpleasant, troublesome groans coming from you on the chest-press machine.
Personally, I always try to remain as inconspicuous as humanly possible while at my gym, which is why I simply cannot comprehend why this keeps happening in workout facilities across America.
If you’re questioning things, just remember this one simple rule: if it sounds like a guttural birthing noise, hold it in.
9. Take the bluetooth out of your ear.
What call are you expecting? Does the President work out with a Bluetooth? No? Well, I think you can manage an hour without being immediately reachable.
The only thing worse than wearing a bluetooth?
Taking a call mid leg-squat.
When in doubt, just don’t do it: Stop wearing your fraternity t-shirts after the age of 25, untuck your tight wife-beater tank (and then burn it), unstrap the fanny pack, take off the Chubbies—do whatever it is you have to do to ensure a pleasant gym experience for those around you.
Commandments sound more official in sets of 10, so I’m leaving the last one up to you guys in case there’s anything I missed. I know one of you is guilty of something far worse than what’s listed here, so fess up. No one knows the crime better than the criminal.