I've worked out at various weight rooms for nearly seven years and have become familiar with more than just the equipment. While the equipment is what makes a weight room, the people inside the gym provide the environmental flavor. It doesn't matter their age, background or location, these universal gym goers can always be found.
The Know Nothing: a unisex role
These people don't know a microscopic amount about gym etiquette. Know Nothings realize that the gym can help them get into better shape, but their comprehension stops right there. They aimlessly walk around wearing nothing but a blank expression, jeans, dark socks and 20-year old Reeboks — trying to copy those around them.
The Regular: a unisex role
These people tend to go to the gym five times a week for about an hour. They can lift an above-average amount of weight but nothing record breaking. Usually listening to music on an iPod, Regulars drown out the metallic clinks of weights and the soft rock pumped through the speakers. Never spending too much time on a particular machine, you can tell that they know what they're doing, but they just want to get in, get out and get on with their lives.
The Lord of the Gym (LOTG): a male role
These guys live at the gym, have bodies that would make the Incredible Hulk jealous, get easily irritated with Know Nothings and look at themselves in the mirror — a lot. LOTG attire is either very loose- or very tight-fitting tank tops, with tiny, tiny shorts. LOTGs often carry around a jug of water — as in a gallon-sized container that originally contained milk. I have never understood this. There is a water fountain located near the weight room. Apparently their legs can squat 500 pounds but can't carry them the 10 steps it takes to get to the water fountain.
The Showoff: a unisex role
The Showoffs are typically women who are very confident, dressing in “booty shorts” and sports bras. The LOTGs love to flirt with the Showoffs. The male Showoffs like to wear tight-fitting tank tops and strut around the gym flexing every muscle while trying to make it seem as though they're not flexing at all.
The Lightweight: a female role
Never seen sweating, these women lift two-and-a-half pound weights a few times with exaggerated breathing. The workout accomplishes nothing except the satisfaction of telling their friends that they went to the gym.
The Personal Trainer: A predominately male role
You may have thought that the LOTGs ranked the highest on the gym totem pole, but the Personal Trainers outrank the LOTG. They get an official uniform — usually a polo and track pants — and while the LOTGs treat working out as though it is their job, Personal Trainers have actually made it their job. The enjoyment these people get from the gym is so great that they must be there for their regular workout routine on top of a nine-to-five workday. Often wanting to converse for long periods of time, they can usually be seen standing among the LOTGs, the only other people in the gym who stay just as long as the trainers.
Then, there's me. Of course, I do not see myself in any of these archetypes. I see myself as a TT, short for “Truth Teller.” TTs believe they are in their own personal sitcom that occurs in the gym.
Michael J. Goldberg is a student at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and loves working out with the universal gym goers.