“It’s nice to have a home away from home”

The gym is its own little world. Many of you reading already know this. Those of you just getting into a routine have probably started to recognize it and that regular gym-goers have tendencies.

You’ll notice members operate on schedules. Some come at 5:05 a.m. on the dot every morning, others adjust their time slightly but it’s always based on when their class of choice is offered.


Three favorites in my crew – and I met them all through the gym.

You’ll notice there are groups and cliques. Some do cardio together, some take classes together, others lift together.

You’ll notice people have habits. Some drop their weights on purpose (assholes), others throw their weights (giant assholes). Some hog cardio machines or benches for an entire workout (FYI I’m totally THAT girl – gym confession) while others bounce between multiple machines in a single workout.

In the spirit of the gym being THE place to be this time of year, I’ve come up with 10 clear-cut signs you live at the gym. If you’ve reached the point of becoming an official gym rat, the following 10 items are going to resonate with you. If you haven’t yet reached the point, look at this as a fun preview of what’s to come!

1. The “They Know You” Effect
The front desk staff knows you by name. The trainers know you by your routine or unique habits. The class instructors smile and wave when they pass you in the locker area. You spend as much time there as those who are paid to be there.

This effect extends to your fellow, regular gym-goers too. Which leads into my next two points.
2. The “Reverse Cheers Bar” Effect
There’s an awkward moment all gym regulars know about. When you go to the gym a lot, you get to know others who are there regularly too. But thanks to headphones, planned workout routines and limited equipment availability, you can get caught in your own little world and may never actually talk to others. You know their faces but it’s literally the reverse of Cheers; your regular spot but NOT everybody knows your name. This can lead to some awkward moments when you see them out in public.

“Do I say hi? Do I smile or just nod my head? Do I avoid eye contact completely because technically we don’t really know each other?”

If you go to the gym a lot, you’ve had these conversations with yourself. Guaranteed.


The man, the legend behind the Ron Swanson Effect

3. The “Ron Swanson” Effect
…Speaking of those people, even if you never speak to them, you get to know that core group of people really well. You can learn a lot about people based on their etiquette at the gym – or lack thereof. You also know their schedule, how they look in spandex, maybe even how much they squat or how fast they run. All of this and likely never speaking to them.

The reason for the name of this effect comes from the brilliant, albeit fictional, Ron Swanson who said, “I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.”

4. The “Gym Bag” Effect
I’ve never been one to carry a purse. But you best believe I never leave for the day without my gym bag. Part of my routine is to head there straight after work – good habit and prevents me from stopping at home and winding up in comfy sweats on the couch with a box of Cheez-Its. To forget my bag of essentials throws a major wrench in my routine. When you become a gym rat, you’ll value this cargo carrier above all others.

5. The “Locked, Stocked and Two Smokin Barrels” Effect
And about that gym bag…a gym rat’s is always stocked full of any item that may be needed – and likely a whole lot of stuff that’s not. I don’t swim every day but my swim cap and goggles are always packed, just in case. Backup earbuds, extra socks, gum, ponytail holders and headbands? Got em! Even band-aids, just in case a blister has emerged that could hamper a workout.

Some people lay out their outfit the night before. I like to make sure the bag is ready to go, every night before I go to bed. There’s no worse feeling than getting to the gym, amped up for a workout, only to realize I’ve forgotten a sports bra.
6. The “Pseudo Trainer” Effect
This is what happens when you’re not a trainer yet people seem to think otherwise. About five years ago, I was exchanging pleasantries with the manager of the gym I went to when, out of the blue, he offered a job as a personal trainer. When I told him I wasn’t a trainer, I was a PR Director at an ad agency, you’d think he was a five-year-old and I just told him Santa Claus wasn’t real.

Then there’s the simpler side of this where you’re often asked for advice because others have seen you and trust you. There have been a handful of times a fellow gym-goer has asked me about exercises I’m doing, and if I ‘d recommend them. One told me he copies moves I do on a regular basis – that’s something I totally do too when I see someone doing something that looks legit. No shame in this, people. Learn from others whenever you can!
7. The “Favoritism” Effect
You have a favorite treadmill, bench, bike in spin class, even locker or parking space. It can throw off your workout in a big way if your favorite is being used by another person. This is one you must and will quickly get over. It happens all the time, busy season or not.
8. The “FOMOG” Effect
Otherwise known as Fear of Missing Out on the Gym. You hate missing two days or – gulp – more! And when it happens, you’ve never been so excited for that first workout back.
9. The “Search Party” Effect
Just as you notice those two days in a row you missed, others notice too – and may even become concerned.

Last year I was really sick and missed the first part of the week at the gym. When I returned on Thursday, a fellow regular came up to me and asked where I had been, even said he was worried I was sick or hurt. I’d give him a shoutout here, if only I knew his name…
10. The “Social Calendar” Effect
I always plan out my week at the gym. I have to think regulars do this too. Planning is the best set up for a successful, regular gym routine. You know if you have something going on and need to get your workout in early in the morning vs. a usual evening sesh. You know if you should move your rest day based on other obligations. Personally, it also helps me decide what days I want to focus on a running workout vs. lift legs or upper. Naturally, peak gym times factor into that planning too.

Can you grab lunch tomorrow? Let me check…nope, lap swim is over the noon hour, sorry!

Going to the bar Friday night? Well, that’s the least-crowded night in the weight room so yeah, I’m gonna be “bellied up” to the bar, so to speak. I mean, what better way to start the weekend anyway, right?

These things will happen.

Can you relate to these? What are some other signs that confirmed you were a gym rat? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.


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