Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
Sunday, September 29, 2002
Why do people go to the gym when they don't want to? Is this a New York City thing? Is the rest of the gym population of the US of A having fun going to the gym or are they equally as miserable as some of the women who come to NYC's various gyms?

Now, I have been taking shots at the NYSC population but this goes for Equinox, Crunch, and David Barton (I have worked for each of these clubs as an instructor). So, in all fairness, here is a story from each of these gyms:

David Barton Gyms

This story happened earlier on in my fitness instruction career, so I actually did give a crap if someone injured themselves in my class. Nowadays, I give you one warning and you're on your own! It was a 8:00am Body Sculpting class and, of course, being David Barton on the Upper East Side of NYC, it was populated by women who had too much time and money than they knew what to do with. In one corner of the classroom was this fleshy, pale-as-a-ghost, doughy-looking woman who had the poorest form I had ever seen. She would do exercises with a hunched back, locked knees, head sticking out, etc. I gave my usual verbal cues to watch their form, i.e. bend your knees, stand up tall, BUT she did nothing to correct her form. Finally, on my bent-over row, I went straight up to her and pulled her shoulders back and stuck my finger on the small of her back and said "Lengthen your spine before you hurt yourself!" Then it dawned on me, "Oh my god, this is Isabella Rosselini AND, boy, does she have bad skin, awful posture, and thick thighs."

Crunch Fitness

I was teaching a 9:30am Low Impact class to quite a number of people. As a matter of fact, they were now all return customers who obviously enjoyed the class. People were screaming and yelling and having a good ole time when I noticed this woman in the back doing class while covering her ears. I remembered her as the woman who had asked me if I need to teach class with such loud music. I also remember telling her that I always teach with the music at the same level AND that all the other students took my class because of that energy AND that next time she should not stand next to the speaker during class. Suddenly, she walked up to me up front and yells out, "It's too loud!!" Since the other students and I were stunned that she had done this, we were not prepared for the fact that she proceeded to turn down the volume on the stereo. Since I was so stunned at this, I could not even react when a regular attendee of my class grabbed her arm, screamed "We like it loud, now GET OUT of class if you don't like it!". The only thing I could do was make sure no fists were thrown. I dropped the class two weeks later.


I arrived at Equinox to teach my very first class for them ever. I was excited and absolutely psyched that I had started working for what was then considered the elite place for instructors to teach. I got to class and proceeded to set up class. Now as some of you know, there are members in every club who like setting up in the front row. To these people, it is imperative that nobody obstruct their view of themselves. They are almost fanatical about this. Well, here I am setting up my body sculpting class, when I noticed this lady set herself in front, right next to the mirror. She was so close that if she exhaled, she fogged up the mirror. She spent the rest of the class working out next to the mirror never taking her eye of herself.

So, is it only in New York City that this psychosis exists or is it just me? On the other hand, please don't tell me if it's only here; it would just depress me. Later.
Saturday, September 28, 2002
Thanks to all those who have sent me compliments on these stories. Remember that I am doing nothing but writing down what I observe. Scary, eh?

Have you all noticed the number of people who work out at the gym wearing a walkman/discman/headset? I just realized it today when this guy walked by with his headphones blaring. First of all, turn it down!!!!! Doesn't that hurt your ears? If you are really trying to block out the rest of the world, maybe the gym isn't the place for you to hang out. Second, does listening to a Broadway musical soundtrack that loud pump up your adrenaline? Especially Les Miz? I love Eponine singing On My Own but at the gym? Really?!?!

I began to notice the number of people using headsets as they worked out. It seems like about 2 out of 3 people work out with headsets. My favorites are the ones who have headphones that are so big it seems like they lifted them off their father's stereo/8-track/tape player/tv console. Someone please correct me if I am wrong but aren't those things too cumbersome? Do you really need the cord to be 20 feet long and made of spiral telephone cord?

The only thing more ridiculous than those big headphones are the people who carry a selection of CD's with them AND in a carrying case. If you need to change your CD mid-workout, you are definitely working out too long and definitely not hard enough. Come on, guys! How long does a CD run? At least 45 minutes? Maybe more if it's one of those heavy-based mixed CD's? Who works out for more than an hour? Who really wants to work out for more than an hour? Next time you work out try looking for someone who carries a case of CD's with them.

Now, I know what you are thinking. If I do cardio, then I need to carry a walkman and a selection of CD's. OKAY, some of you do. Cardio is a very different story. The mundane, repetitious movements that remind one of a hamster wheel is utterly boring and that's why you should come and take my step class. BUT unless you are about to compete in a bodybuilding contest, you need not spend more than 45 minutes lifting weights. You can only do so many exercises and then the muscle no longer responds. So, if your weight lifting routine borders on an hour, stop cruising the boys, get your lifting in, and go home and shower. Be like the rest of us and cruise the boys at your local bar/restaurant/home depot/Target/Blockbuster. Later.
Thursday, September 26, 2002
After working out this morning, I thought I would share some things that I think most gym users should keep in mind the next time they workout:

If you don't know how to use a piece of equipment (cardio machine, weight machine, drinking fountain), please ask anyone from the training staff for help. That's what they are hired for. Don't ask the housekeeper (who barely speaks English) about the proper settings for the new stairmaster or the correct amont of weight to lift.

When checking in at the front desk, check in, get your towel, and move on. The rest of us would like to get in as well and we really don't care to hear your idle chit chat with the receptionist. By the way, most receptionists don't really want to hear your point of view on the state of the economy; especially not at $7.00/hour.

If you see an "Out of Order" sign on a piece of equipment, it's OUT OF ORDER!!!!! Don't try to start it, shake it, or kick it. It still won't work.

Try to remember that the quality of your exercise is BY FAR more important than the quantity you do. Just because you can lift 350 lbs on the incline bench press twice, while you contort your body into positions that any gymnast would envy, doesn't mean you are doing your body any good. Unless you are training for the Mr. Universe contest, you don't need that much weight. A note to my "sisterhood": You don't look that butch lifting that much weight. Plus the tight 2xist tank top and shaved legs give you away.

When exercising whether its cardio or weights, WATCH YOUR FORM. Here's a phrase to remember: Work out the way you want to end up looking. So, if you want to look locked-kneed, hunched-over, and lop-sided, GO FOR IT. Who the hell am I not to tell you to look like that. Plus that may be the latest thing; I've been out of the loop when it comes to the latest trends.

Guys....... get rid of the MC Hammer pants.

Ladies...... STOP with the lifting of 3 lb. weights. Your Coach bag weighs a lot more than that.

Is it me or do people hang out too long in the locker rooms? Just checking.

If you haven't done any cardio or lifted any weights, alternating between the steam room and sauna for an hour is not considered exercise. Unless I am missing something. Am I?

Couples who work out together: please do not wear matching outfits! Just plain TACKY!!!

And finally, no matter how bad your day is, no matter who wronged you when you were a child, no matter who turned you down for that job/date/one-night-stand, when you make eye contact with someone, SMILE!!!!!!!! It makes all of us feel more comfortable. Plus it just might get you a date with the cute boy who works out on the same days you do. I speak from experience. (hee hee hee) Later.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
I started working for the gym in 1994. I had originally moved to NYC in 1992 to work for the electric utility (Con Edison). After about a month, I realized that my future was not in "babysitting" a bunch of tecnicians and mechanics (read: union brats). I got out of that and immediately started working at the New York Sports Clubs' front desk to make some cash (albeit $6.00/hour) while I decided what I wanted to do.

Little did I know that I would be "babysitting" a bunch of spoiled middle-class brats who mostly worked in middle-management and a whole lot of upper-class hags whose lives consisted of way too much time spent deciding what shoes to wear. In all fairness, I have to say that I started working at a location on the Upper East Side which is a section of NYC that these overly insecure and irritating people seemed to have an affinity to. That is not to say that other locations in other parts of the cities don't have their members who occasionally send you into moments where you wish you certains acts were not considered a felony.

Why is it so difficult for some people to understand that paying a monthly fee to use a gym facility does not mean that you are superior to the staff at the gym? I cannot tell you the number of times people use the phrases "You work for me!" or "I pay your salary!". To which I respond, "Can I get a raise?"

Why do people insist on bringing their valuables (minks, diamond earrings, $1000 in cash, laptops, etc.) to the gym without bringing a heavy-duty lock for their lockers? People, spring for the $6.50 lock for your locker. Better yet, leave all that crap at home AND "NO! We won't put keep an eye on your stuff behind the front desk."

Do people really need more than three towels when they come to the gym? You need one for when you shower, a second one to help you dry off more, and possibly a third one for the sauna/steam room. What's going on with the need for six towels? Dude, is your butt that big?

People, what's up with not carrying your gym ID card when you come to the gym? It's really easy, put the card in your wallet, when you get to the gym, show it to the front desk representative who in turn will punch in the numbers and let you in. Done. No fuss, no drama, more time for you to workout. Is it me or is there something difficult about that process?

The front desk is definitely the most difficult place to work in the gym. For a measly hourly rate, you get to listen to the gripes and neuroses of members who think that they are doing you a favor by showing up at the gym. I, for one, am glad that I no longer am there.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
At the risk of throwing stones in my glass house, here are some FASHION DO'S AND DON'TS at your local gym. That being said, i just want remind everyone that if you are going to err on the fashion don't side, at least have a body that could double for Kim Catrall or one of the male Calvin Klein models.

Thanks to my friend Diane for compiling most of this list:

Ladies, if you must wear a thong, could you PLEASE wear something under it other than Control Top Pantyhose?? Especially if you weigh north of 210lbs!

Men, Support CAN be beautiful. USE IT!

Ladies, the excessive blush and foundation will only help clog up your pores causing skin outbreaks that any guy at the gym will find repulsive. PLUS you always end up looking like a hooker.

Men with excessively hairy backs...could you leave the wife-beater tee at home and go for a Champion full-coverage tee? Most of us are usually so nauseated from your liquored-sweaty smell that the VISUAL puts us over the edge!!!

Men, black socks and shorts?!?!?!?! ENOUGH said.

Ladies, bandanas, sunglasses, and cell phones do NOT enhance your workout. Leave them at home.

Ladies, PERFUME is not necessary. Some of us get enough polluted air outside of the gym.

And finally, no matter what you do and no matter who you are, WEAR SOME UNDERWEAR!!!!!!! The last thing we really want to see at the gym is "your business"; especially while you are stretching on the stretch mat.

Okay, pass 'em along kids. Let's try to make our gyms a lot less visually-intimidating. Later.
Saturday, September 21, 2002
The scariest part of the teaching fitness classes is the obsessive nature of some of the participants. There are always the people who must have the same spot in the class over and over again or else they will not be able to take class. Then there are those who insist on doing more than they can (like lifting too much weight or increasing the difficulty of the cardio machine or adding too much height to a step).

On Friday, I taught two classes in the evening: a body conditioning class and a step class. Exactly in between classes, a fire extinguisher, next to the aerobic studio, fell on the floor, cracked open, and began to spew loads of chemical dust all over. At one point it looked like smoke, albeit yellow, billowing around the gym. The people in the body conditioning class began to file out of the room because of concern for their lives. What did the rest of the gym do? NOTHING!!! People did not get off the treadmills! People kept lifting weights!

The killer part of all this is that the women waiting for the step class, stormed into the aerobics room and began to set up for step. These were the exact words of one of the young ladies who came in for step:

"Are you done because I have to set up for step class?!?!?!??"

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen. These women did not care that there was chemical dust flying around; mama needed a workout and she was going to get it despite the fact that she would be inhaling chemical extinguisher. So, what did I do? I put my step tape in and began class. As a final note, the class had 40 people in it. Crazy ass people. Just thought I would share that one with you. Night.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
For those of you who think that working at the gym is easy, THINK AGAIN!!! What makes it tough is not the work or the hours or the help that some people require when working out. What makes it tough are the stupid questions we get asked. And before you say it, there are stupid questions.

Here as just a sampling and the answers most of the staff wants to give:

Can you switch the channel on the TV? Sure, I'll switch the channel again for the 18th time in the past 10 minutes you have been on that bike because I have nothing better to do than to be your gym bitch.

Why aren't your towels softer? We like our towels to be both an exfoliating and drying implement.

Your classes are not really effective; can you do something to change that? Sorry, we always assume that most of the students might actually put some effort into a spinning class.

I'm sweating too much, can you turn the Air Conditioning up? Right away, I wouldn't want you to generate perspiration. After all, this is just a gym.

Can't you guys let me in before you open because I really would like to start working out earlier? You're right, we really should look into opening the gym at 4:00am because everyone else likes to work out at that time.

Why isn't there a juice bar and lounge area in here? Because the PAX deli and Starbucks next door don't have stairmasters and free weights.

Do I have to work out in athletic footwear? OH NO! Feel free to wear your open-toed stilleto-heeled Gucci shoes. You don't really need the support or protection, do you?

Are men allowed to use that weight machine? Only real men are, so you don't qualify.

Anyway, that is what we have to deal with. So if you come across a staff member who seems pissed off, you know now. Just smile at them, ask them how their doing, and wish them a nice day. Later.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
First things first, I have to give some credit to Scott ( for inspiring me to do this.

It's Tuesday and I only teach three classes today (I actually teach 5 tomorrow). I know that sounds insane, and it is, but honestly most instructors do three a day up to five times per week, sometimes more classes. What is up with some of these people who take classes at the gym? Do people really think that working out is something that we all inherently know how to do? I swear that the gym is full of idiots sometimes. When the instructor asks you not the do the advanced optional exercise, it's because it is obvious that you are about to fall of your bench or drop the weight on your head. Try to give it some thought, if we really wanted to hurt you (as we sometimes do), we would have done it earlier.

I normally tell all my classes that if anyone is new to taking class (be it step or body sculpting), they really will not get it at first. BUT I also say that it is not about getting IT on the first try, it's about coming back on a regular basis to "get used" to the class and isn't that what exercise is really about? Regular participation to increase cardiovascular and overall health? Somebody please correct me if I am wrong!

I always simultaneously abhor and relish the beginning of the fall season at the gym. All the people who decided that they would "workout" outside in the nice summer weather are back in the gym. The truth is most of these people ended up lying on the beach imbibing too much alcohol, noshing on too many snacks, and treating themselves too much gelato. Hey, I love gelato! I even love gelato in gallon quantities! But I also teach anywhere from 15 to 18 classes a week, lift weights 3 times a week, and attend a yoga class or two. I don't sit my ass on some sand and slather on SPF 15 and call it a day at my share in the Hamptons/Fire Island/Any-other-excessively-expensive-resort. Anyway, here they are, back from their Summer of slothness, ready to mold that body into one that would make Madonna jealous. Hey people, word of advise: It took you 3 months to look like gelato, give yourself some time to melt of that weight. Oh, also, by the way, it takes more than two weeks of lifting two-pound weights and more than a combined time of 14 minutes on three different cardio machines to change your body.

So, here is some advise that I would like pass on to these people:

Please do not blame the instructors or the gym for your lack of results: We don't lift the spoon to your mouth (PUT THE SPOON DOWN AND STEP AWAY FROM THE ENTENMANN'S!). Also, spend more time on that treadmill: at least walk a bit farther than you walk to go pick up that pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby (U are what U eat!). To the women who take more than three body sculpting classes a week: please try to lift weights that weigh more than your Prada slingbacks AND try doing some cardio (U gotta burn off that excess stored "energy" somehow and shopping at Bloomingdale's does not burn that many calories). To the men who start off by placing two 45-lb plates on each side of the flat bench press: if you can press it less than 10 times, lower the weight before you bust a vein in your temple and we have to call 911 to save your fat ass. (As if you would really be alive and have the energy to lift 225 lbs if it fell on your chest).

Above and beyond all (and please try to spread this around): The gym is a place for stress reduction NOT stress induction! Good night, all.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
Hello and welcome. Just a small explanation as to why I have created this blogspot. I was recently talking to a good friend who mentioned that I seem to have many anecdotes and stories about the gym. After further thought, I decided to publish them on the web. Not for any purpose whatsoever. More of just a way of recording them. If they happen to be funny or thought-provoking, then so be it. I hope that they are at least something to help you forget the "mad circles" that most of our lives tend to run in.

I have been working for gyms and health clubs since 1994. Mostly for the New York Sports Clubs but also for almost every other major chain in New York City. If you even think that working for a health club is all fun and games, think again. Here is a list (not a complete list) of the types of people you will run into when you begin your "exciting career" at your local gym facility:

1. That lady who is standing at the door 30 minutes before the gym is supposed to open, knocking on the door, asking "how much longer before you open" because "it's freezing out here and I am only wearing my tiny leotard" and she must the get to the 5th treadmill from the right on the second floor because that is the only treadmill that will possibly help her achieve her goal of losing that cargo load on her back she calls her butt.

2. That woman who must sign up for all the classes possible to take (step, kickbox, body sculpt, pilates, yoga, meditation, etc.) but never shows up to any of them and then wonders out loud why she has not achieved any results and it must be the fault of the instructor because they are not helping her achieve her goals.

3. That man who does 5 minutes on the stairmaster, lifts weights for another 5 minutes, stretches for 30 seconds, and spends an hour and a half in and out of the showers, steam rooms, and saunas. (You figure it out).

4. That exceptionally muscular guy who lifts everyday as he fills out his journal to properly establish what he has done and what he needs to do and to make sure that he is not overtraining because he has to look good for the other cute boys who roam the gym only to act so aloof to them that they never really end up making a love connection and now he thinks that all other gay men are jerks because nobody will pay him any mind because he is not muscular enough, so he lifts more and chats with the trainers about his "girlfriend".

5. That really thin 20-something girl who just moved to the big city and is trying to make it in business but is really just being pushed around by her fellow workers because she is the newbie and she decides that since she pays club dues, she owns your butt and you must be the reason she is so miserable and has not reached her goals, so she screams at you because she does not like the treadmills that are available and that someone else is using her favorite leg machine and how is she going to be able to live if she does not get into that boot camp class because it is the only class that the instructor (him being black and muscular and flirtatious) really cares for his students and that she can never get into class (even though she has been in all his classes for the past 10 weeks) and that will totally ruin her week and she will have to someday just quit this gym.

So there you have it. Just a few of the types of members that you meet. Believe me there are more and I will definitely share them with you as the days go on. Wait until I talk about the staff. Anyway, thanks for your time and check back soon.
I'm just writing down some of the things that run through my head.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Eating up the City before it eats me up. I'm a freelance cook who spends his free time working out, cooking for "my man", and wondering why the Right is so concerned about my bedroom.

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