Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is It Okay To Be A Snob At the Gym?

My favorite machine at the gym is the rowing machine. I, like several of the other contributors to this blog, rowed in college, and having been coached at a relatively high level I sometimes have trouble not judging the untrained rowers with whom I have to share the ergometers at my neighborhood New York Sports Club. Sometimes, I worry that I'm a rowing snob - not everybody is going to know how to use the rowing machines as well as somebody who rowed competitively for eight years. But then, some people are just terrible klutzes - hitting themselves in the chest with the handle, awkwardly lifting the handle over their knees on the recovery, sitting bolt upright and rowing half slide at 30 strokes per minute with the resistance damper set at 10 while pulling 2:40 splits, you name it - and I can't help but be distracted by them.

Analogy: Let's say you're a serious runner. Consider what it would be like if you were on a treadmill at a gym and somebody from the Ministry of Silly Walks got onto the treadmill next to you and began to exercise in their peculiar fashion.

Would you be able to concentrate and get a good workout with somebody like that on the treadmill next to you? Is it snobby to look down your nose at them? What are your thoughts on this?

7 comments:

Lauren said...

okay, whatever you do, just resist giving them pointers. It's wrong, even though I bet you really want to. I have this problem when I see people running with poor form or with sneakers from the 1980s...

Ellen said...

Don't underestimate the calorie-burning potential of those Silly Walks.

8yearoldsdude said...

the gym, much like the large city, is an egalitarian space. People come to it with their own motives, experience, and interests. They have the right to suck as much as you have to be competent. they are best left alone.

Wade Garrett said...

I don't offer advice on the rowing machine, but occasionally somebody will ask me for it. I always feel awkward giving it, because I've always hated practice heroes, and I don't want to be thought of as the douchebag who takes the gym too seriously!

For me, its sort of an athletic intelligence issue. I know next to nothing about golf - I've only played once in my life. But, if I watch it on tv, I can figure out who has a good swing and who has an unorthodox swing - some movements just look inherently athletic, and others look awkward. I'm surprised that more people, after rowing thirty strokes or so, don't say "hey, I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but this just feels like an awkward motion, maybe I should ask an instructor about it" instead of grimacing and puffing through it for 15 minutes before moving on to the stairmaster.

Senor Beavis said...

Just pretend they're on Harvard or something.

I agree with 8yearoldsdude. I was a college swimmer, but I realize that people who weren't still like the exercise. I just make sure to only swim when I have my own lane.

Now when it comes to people talking on their cellphones or wearing makeup at the gym or reek of cigarettes on the elliptical next to you, then I wholeheartedly endorse being a snob.

Anonymous said...

yes, you're being a snob, and it's just that kind of attitude that keeps adults from trying new things!
It's tough enough to try something new, something you're bad at. Leave these people alone or offer advice if asked - and try to be supportive!

ryan said...

i am still baffled by the gymgoers wearing jeans, polo shirts, and nice watches. just baffled.