People at the gym

Sometimes what happens at the elliptical doesn't always stay at the elliptical

People at the gym

Words: Talya Galasko | Illustrations: Maxine Aufrichtig

Party season is over and if you’re anything like me, you would have woken up this past Monday from a two-week bender to a half-eaten hamburger and four extra kilos.

If you’ll be spending the better part of the new year burning off all the regained weight you lost last year, you’re bound to run into the sorts of odd characters one finds only at the gym. It’s true – there’s just something about the elliptical that brings out bizarre behaviour in otherwise ordinary adults. And there’s something about that 10am yoga class can make one feel more judged than the “it” girls in the third grade (in an incident involving a cabbage salad and something along the lines of “you smell like fart”...not speaking from personal experience).

Whatever the case, it’s time to get familiar with the people you’ll be meeting at the gym this month on your way to the new you.

People at the gym

The fit moms

Just as every reputable establishment is upheld by its core membership, so too is the gym upheld by a team of 35 to 50-year-old women who are able to bang out an hour-long walk on the treadmill at an incline of 15 before making bacon and brioche for breakfast and then taking their kids to school. Big ups to them for looking better than those of us ten or twenty years their junior.

Key trends: brightly coloured tights, sculpted arms (think Michelle Obama), tanned from Jan-Jan and generally involved in high-intensity cardio activity.

Names include: Michelle, Sheryl, Nadine and Bernice.

People at the gym

The overachievers

Although few and far between it’s not impossible to encounter someone at the gym that’s clearly walked off the cover of Men’s/Women’s Health. We call this type the overachievers. Their extended stay at the gym is generally unwarranted and really, there’s no need to run at 20km/h next to the rest of us when we’re clearly having an off-day that involves that back-up Mumford & Sons playlist. The over-achievers are inclined to misuse equipment by mimicking a human flagpole on a basic pull-up bar and launching themselves from the second floor to the first in a modified jump squat-type motion.

Key trends: Does not sweat very much (even when engaged in 12th minute of plank), has six-pack, shows off six-pack and owns all Nike footwear styles.

Tips: Avoid eye-contact.

People at the gym

The swipers

The swipers comprise a group of medical aid-savvy individuals whose stay at the gym (often short) involves the total avoidance of any and all physical activity. Any instance of exercise will be accompanied by light entertainment (think reading a book from the comfort of one’s recumbent pedaling bike seat). Otherwise, the swipers come to the gym for the things one could easily get outside of it – think latte at Kauai, long showers, using the scale (accompanied by dramatic removal of towel), WiFi and at best, a steam.

Key trends: Prone to engaging in discussion with all willing candidates, the only users of the blood pressure-reading machine at the entrance (???), most likely to leave their underwear off in the changing room until all activities completed.

Think: gelled hair, button-up shirt, knee-high socks, shoes and hairy buttocks.

People at the gym

The BBG girls

If you’re not familiar with the twelve-week program that helps you get a bikini body (a.k.a. Bikini Body Guide), you’ve clearly been hiding away from Instagram or have your Instagram explore settings customised right. The BBG girls are just like a sorority, but one whose key intention is to look bloody tight in a bikini this summer (or next).

Key trends: if you see a girl jumping around the gym, doing circuits of back flips and flip flops with a step and/or medicine ball, she’s probably a BBG girl. Workouts are followed by long sessions in a studio room, comprised 10% of stretching and 90% of trying to take the perfect selfie to share on her Instagram account, Melissa_BBG, MyBBGjourney, BBG4life and the likes.

People at the gym

The screamers

Screaming at the gym after you’ve completed a set of four curls with 5kg dumbbells can only be described as a verbal form of peacocking. The intention is to exhibit one’s “flipping toughness” and strength (interview notes – it seems to warrant the reverse effect). Screamers are found almost always in the weights area or on the bicycle next to you at your next spinning class. Unfortunately they cannot be avoided in all group classes but for everything else, there’s self-inflicted deafness at 100% iPod vol.

Key trends: YouTube search “tortoise mating.”

People at the gym

Golden oldies

If I’m certain about one thing it’s that my retirement package will include malva pudding for breakfast, lunch and dinner with peak snackbars of Cadbury in between (Top Deck preferred – Wholenut’s okay).

But not all of us are cut from the same cloth, so bravo to those 65+ year olds who have chosen to enter old age with both grace and consideration for their well-being. No doubt, flexibility and skill differ enormously for these types. For every bobba on the stretch mat with her toes behind her ears, there’s an old guy in a vest and PT shorts with a misguided ball sack peeking out from the depths of his hemline.

Key trends: Loose vest w/ food stains and sports cap for him. Book, leopard print tights and headband for her.

Note – no MP3/iPod gadget used. Impressive.

People at the gym

Seriously klapping gym boet

If the exercise doesn’t look or sound impressive (note: overlap with screamer), your average gym boytjie’s just not interested. This guy’s here for three things: to shake his protein shake as many times as possible, to get massive, ripped arms and meet the girl of his dreams (unexpectedly, she’s the female counterpart of the gym boytjie, cue “couples that gym together stay together”).

Key trends: tight-fitting vest with ‘I <3 [something]’ logo (‘vac’ in most instances), USN bottle, old Reeboks, plenty side-boob but NO nipples.

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