Remember: We are all unique. Just like everybody else.
Here’s seven characters you’ll typically meet (and hate) in any popular gym.
I’m not talking about you, though. I’m talking about them. Those guys. So not you. And definitely not me….
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1. The Model
You know the ones.
They turn up at the gym with a full face of make-up and proceed to do more selfies than reps.
And I’d just like to point out that it’s not exclusively women who fall into this trap. In fact, guys are the worst culprits. When working at a gym, I once watched three grown-ass men spend 20 minutes (?!) between a set to find the best angle to make them look more muscular.
Here’s a tip – if you spent more of those 20 minute breaks actually working, you wouldn’t need to waste so much time looking for the perfect angle. You can’t filter real life.
How to spot your resident model: Guys will be queuing for the magic mirror in the gym bathroom with the lighting that makes everyone look more shredded. For girls, your best bet is the squat rack. They’ll be doing what I like to call Instagram squats. Think duck pout, ass sticking out at near porn levels and the use of so many filters on their social media photos that if they ever go missing the police will never find them.
2. The Askhole
Ever had a guy ask you for some training advice, only to carry on doing exactly what he was doing in the first place?
That’s classic Askhole.
Is he saying your tips were shit? Don’t take it personally. If you watch closely, he likes to go around the whole gym doing this to people, finding out how everybody else trains so that he can, you know, ignore it.
The Askhole is a distant cousin of another gym character, The Teacher. The Teacher stalks the gym floor like a lion, looking for weak antelope who will be too polite to interrupt when he starts telling them they are doing everything wrong and why they need to train the way he trains.
How to spot your resident Askhole: You won’t need to find him, he’ll find you. He’ll think nothing of interrupting you mid-set, casually throw gym law out of the window by gesturing for you to remove your headphones, only to disregard anything you say and carry on with his set of full body biceps curls.
3. The Corebro
Once upon a time, a heavy barbell squat was a great way to train your entire body.
Alongside the deadlift and a few other select movements, it’s an exercise which has the unique ability of hitting almost every major muscle group in one go.
Nowadays, however, it is not good enough.
You just hit a new PB? Great stuff, Milky Bar Kid, but now try doing it while standing on a Swiss ball. Or, even better, half a fucking Swiss ball. One leg at a time. While drinking a protein shake.
Yeah, welcome to the world of functional training, where no qualifications are required although a smug sense of superiority is preferable, as your gym’s very own Corebro takes you through an unrequested 20 minute lecture of why every movement must be done on a wobbly surface, and how he is “training for life”.
After all, why do one exercise when you can do 5? You’d have so much more time to tell others how great you are.
The singer from Coldplay. He looks like a sure-fire Corebro.
Now, as you know, I’m all for new training methods and experimentation with different styles. If you want to strengthen your “core” (i.e. the wall of muscles which make up the trunk of your midsection) then that’s great, it has many crossover benefits which will help you in other exercises, and it’s something everybody should dedicate some time to.
But it’s not all you should ever do. Every other exercise is not “useless”.
And the whole concept of replacing fundamental exercises, like the squat and deadlift, for unstable versions of the same exercises is both unnecessary and unproductive. (1)
And while I’m on a rant, keep your fucking feet on the floor when you are doing a bench press!
Because here’s the thing – the word “functional” has been taken vastly out of context since the late 2000’s, with every hack desperate to tell everyone they need to over-complicate everything they do in order to justify why you need to hire them to teach you their mystical ways.
If he were an actor, he’d be Core-y Feldman. If he were insane, he’d be admitted to a hospital for the physically unstable.
Anyway, I digress. The common mistake here is that the word functional doesn’t mean abs. Nor does it mean anything to do with engaging your core.
It means your training is geared around your training goal. So a bodybuilder could deem biceps curls functional for building bigger biceps ahead of his next show, and a powerlifter could deem barbell squats functional for, you know, being more powerful.
Likewise, a corebro could deem his insistence on telling people that every non-abs exercise is useless functional for achieving his goal of being a complete motherfucking douche.
How to spot your resident Corebro: He’ll be the guy wearing five-finger training shoes, calling food “fuel”.
4. The Sales Rep
So you happened to make the godforsaken error of engaging in conversation with the girl on the treadmill next to you. Fuck.
At first, you’re happy that you have made a new friend. Maybe morning cardio won’t be so dull now, hey?
Three minutes into the conversation you realize you’ve been talking an awful lot about yourself and your frustration at the whole weight loss thing. And that’s when it dawns on you – she’s not talking to you, she’s fucking screening you.
Just so happens, Jill is one of the 3 worst people to be stuck in an elevator with.
No, not Satan.
No, not even a cat with a machine gun.
She’s a Juice Plus rep. And now you’re stuck with her.
Worse still, she’s added you on Facebook and mentioned sending you a free sample of her latest detox drink, which achieves the seemingly impossible goal of looking worse going in than it does coming out. If you take action quickly, she might even throw in an ebook about 3 foods you should never eat, and some cling film that you can wrap around your body to lose weight (yep, that’s a thing now too).
Cue months of changing your workout schedule around even though it totally doesn’t fit around your life. Well done.
How to spot your resident sales rep: She’ll be hanging out in weight loss central – the cardio machines and abdominal area. This is where she finds her most susceptible targets.
5. The Bus
The red face. The crazy eyes. And then you hear it… “TSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.”
I swear I was once about to begin a set when I absolutely shit myself as the guy on the adjacent bench let out a hiss so loud I thought the number 12 bus had pulled up beside me.
No one knows the true origin of this sound, but The Bus is often seen training besides another great character, The Screamer.
The Screamer classes his ego as a muscle group, one which must be trained every day. You see, it’s not just about lifting a heavy-ass weight, it’s about you knowing he just lifted a heavy-ass weight. He’s the guy who’s Facebook profile lists his place of education as “School of hard knocks”.
How to spot your resident bus: remove your earphones. But watch out for The Askhole when you do so.
6. The Suppbro
Suppbro comes to the gym with a bag that wouldn’t make it through customs. Better yet, he carries that motherfucker around with him while he trains.
Because he needs his pre / intra / post / mid-set / post blink BCAA’s and whey.
Yup, Suppbro has fallen victim to the number one enemy of any fitness lover – the supplement industry.
The supplement industry wants you to believe that it’s impossible to get anywhere on your own. That you need to pop so many pills you make a rattling sound when you have sex.
Worse still, the supplement industry will convince Suppbro that he’s a “hard gainer” and therefore must buy even more products, including a sugar-filled “mass gainer” which is essentially bullshit in a tub. When in truth the simple issue is that he hasn’t ate a decent fucking meal in the last 6 weeks because he’s spent half his wage on supplements.
Suppbro is a close relative of another gym favourite, Appbro.
Appbro arrives at the gym with so many trackers and wearables he could well have spent the morning battling Jean Claude Van Damme on the set of Universal Soldier.
7. The Shirtlifter
Fair play, you have abs. I know the sacrifice involved (unless you are one of the many guys who is just skinny, in which case GTFO).
But either you suffer from a medical condition that causes you to sweat profusely and need to wipe your brow with your tee every time a girl walks by, or you are just being a complete cockwaffle.
And my money is on the latter.
- Saeterbakken, A. H., et al. Muscle Force Output And Electromyographic Activity In Squats With Various Unstable Surfaces. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Jan;27(1):130-6. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182541d43