Pumping Poseurs

Super Man

I have nicknames for people at the gym.

There’s The Nymph, Gangnam Style, Bookie, The Amazon, and My Doppelgänger (she’s the in-shape version).

Mostly I name the regulars, the ones who are there any time I go -even though I don’t go the same time, day, or often month.

I could ask their real names, of course. All I’d have to do is get right up in their face, break their exercise focus, wait for them to pull out an earbud, then smile and say, “Oh, hi! What’s your name?”

…Assuming, of course, that I get over my habitual shyness to get as far as eye contact.

Besides fond titles of my own devising, I can’t help but participate in everyone’s favorite gym tradition: measuring myself up to others, physically. Like, to the few people who look less fit than I do.

For example, I like running when older people are walking the track. I see them and think, “Oh, good. Someone I can actually pass.” …Except when a buff old man wearing an X City Marathon shirt walks in. Then, I’m more like, “Oh, crap.”

What is especially funny to me are the attendees who are clearly, boldfacedly, attemptingly-ignorancely showing off.

One time, I plopped down on the mat in a sweaty fit to start my abdominal routine. A man and his girlfriend/wife/significant other walked in. He was dressed like most of us: t-shirt, basketball shorts, running shoes, and socks. She, on the other hand, was wearing strappy sandal HEELS with tight jeans and some sort of loosely-fitting top. Flipping her styled, sprayed hair behind her, she sat at a stationary bicycle and actually tried to pedal for a few minutes while he pumped iron.

They have couches downstairs. She could have waited there. I mean, what if she got sweat stains on those jeans? What if she popped a seam?

I was reminded of her when I finally revisited the gym yesterday. Whilst running -okay, okay- shuffling my two miles, a tattooed, stringy-muscled guy walked in wearing loose gym clothes and flip-flops. Flip. Flops. His long hair was tied back in a curly ponytail and his expression was just like that of JP Sears when he imitates yoga fanatics.

You know: serious, thinks-he’s-all-that STARE. In flip-flops.

I don’t know if there are groups of people who look at the gym as a great hookup place, because I don’t. I intentionally go looking grungy, so my makeup doesn’t sweat into my pores and give me teenage acne. My hair’s a mess because I’m going to exercise and get sweaty and don’t want hair spray sweat pouring into my pores and giving me even-worse acne.

I see people showing off, and think something more like, “I’ll run that mile, too, Pretty Boy. And, I’ll do it with my shirt on.” Er, with my gym shoes on.


I go to the gym to exercise. Period. And show off. And, probably, to people watch. Hey -it’s boring to run for two miles with only your music for distraction. I gotta pass the time somehow.

6 thoughts on “Pumping Poseurs

  1. Nitin January 23, 2018 / 10:21 pm

    The in shape version made me laugh out loud. It’s a classic Chelsea post though. Great sense of humour, check. Conveying the serious point, check. Very well written, check.


  2. Michael B. Fishman January 24, 2018 / 12:40 pm

    This was really funny! I couldn’t stand going to the gym because of the personal comparisons so I quit for a long time and now I go to one of the small 24 hour places that are always somewhere in the middle of a strip mall. You’d think that going to the gym at 4:00 am or 3:00 pm would eliminate the comparison dilemma but it didn’t. (Why are so many other people there at 4:00 am anyway?)


    • Chelsea Owens January 24, 2018 / 12:59 pm

      😀 I don’t know! I suppose they’re there for the same reason you are.


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