The Mind of a Gym-Goer: An Investigation

Max Barrett
by Max Barrett
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The Mind of a Gym-Goer: An Investigation

I just saw you look at me, what was that about? Is my outfit ridiculous? Am I not lifting enough weight? Say something you coward!*

*OK, Maybe your inner monologue isn’t that intense, but it’s long overdue that we go inside the mind of a gym-goer. I will assume that my experience at the gym is a universally shared human experience…


The dialogue starts at the check-in desk. There’s usually no trouble here: I go frequently enough, I don’t get the “are you sure you’re in the right place?” look from the attendant. I’m also not getting the hero’s welcome some of the really hardcore members get. It’s like an NBA pregame intro when those people arrive. I’m surprised their name isn’t being blasted out of a PA system. I scan my card and continue on my way. Humble and ready to work.


That humble nature is checked at the door. I walk up to the workout area like I deserve a medal for just being there. Tunes bumping, pride flowing. Now it’s time for a temperature check. I have to gauge the room, see who’s there, what machines are being used and avoid the guy who yelled at me for not cleaning up my chest fly station last week. I do a full room evaluation. Once I’m comfortable with my surroundings, the routine starts.


The days of neglecting to stretch are long gone. You’re begging for something to pull or pop if you don’t at least bend over and let your hands dangle above your feet for a few seconds. I look for a nice treadmill to get those juices going. This is a strictly male analogy, but looking for a treadmill is like trying to figure out which urinal to use. It’s a delicate art. You want to avoid being sandwiched and find a nice, comfortable position where you won’t be disturbed. Don’t approach the row of machines until you’re ready to fully commit.


I’m going to spend at least half of my time at the gym browsing my music to find the perfect song. How can someone expect me to workout until I get to that ultimately satisfying verse or hook? Music is the one aspect of my workout where I can confidently say I will never settle for anything less than the best.


It’s never too early for a break, although this is actually the trickiest part of the workout. Do I use the water fountain? I’m thirsty. Really thirsty. But am I going to be drinking some refreshing spring water, or a mixture of flat tap water and the sweat of 30 other people? It comes down to the old saying “what momma don’t know, won’t hurt her.” By that I mean if I don’t see anyone drinking before me, that thing is like taking a sip from the fountain of youth. But if I have to wait behind a couple people, and witness that exchange of liquids, I might as well wring the shirt of the guy in front of me and drink the extracted moisture from a cup.

Although, I would choose that over the $4 bottles they offer at the front desk.


Let’s throw some freaking weight around, eh? I see you repping your two plates on each side. Don’t mind me over here warming up with only one. Just warming up, bro. I’ll see your two plates in one second. Just warming up. Did he leave? OK, next exercise. Let’s check my calendar quickly. Is it leg day? Mmmmmmmm … nope. I ran on the treadmill anyway. Let me see if these pull-up bars still work. Yup, still work. One crunch, two crunch, three crunch, four. All right, upper body is done.


Once you feel that sensation of your upper body getting full and swollen, it’s time to parade around a little bit. Show off the goods. I feel like I look big. And the mirrors can’t help but agree. I think I’m going to “shake it out” for a solid five minutes and temporarily become gym supervisor, checking on each station to make sure everyone’s form is OK. I have the right to judge you because I just got my absolute pump on.


I warmed up and did some pull-ups. It’s only been 20 minutes. I can’t help but feel really, really happy with the productivity I’ve just displayed. That’s a full-body workout, buddy. I’m ready to bust out of this joint. I don’t even mind when the guy working the desk asks if I forgot something in my car because of how little time I spent there. I’ve got a strut in my step, my head is held high, and I’m ready for a nice three-day rest before my next display of freakish physical gifts.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that what I just described is a tad off or extremely far from what’s in your routine. Am I overthinking things? Underthinking things? I feel like I didn’t scrutinize the water fountain enough. What really goes through your mind? The more we understand each other, the more we understand ourselves. Let me know.


> Men’s Workout Tops
> Men’s Workout Pants
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> Women’s Workout Pants

About the Author

Max Barrett
Max Barrett

Max is an LA-based writer. He is the most athletic of his three brothers. 


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