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February 21, 2006
Rack ‘Em!
by Jay Cascio

What’s the big deal; you use the weights, then return them to the rack when you’re done.

But a lot of you don’t.

Yes, I’m talking to you - the Gym Member.

Don’t you hate walking from one end of the gym to the other in search of that 50lb dumbbell? Drives you nuts, don’t it? But some don’t care. It doesn’t faze them. They’re not bothered simply because they’re used to the hunt. And they’re used to the hunt because they belong to the same group of Bozak’s that never return the weights where they belong.

That’s right, I said ‘Bozak’s.’ It’s a name I learned a long time ago. Anyway . . .

I’ve been in many a gym thus far, and out of roughly two-dozen, I’ve only seen three that fully enforced a ‘Rack Your Weights’ policy (and one was 3000 miles away while I was on vacation). Why is it so hard for people to return their equipment to the racks?

Keeping in mind that there are various personalities guilty of this health club infraction, certain particular culprits come to mind. Let’s start with the most annoying of them all:

1 – The Macho-Man.

You’ll find this guy in every gym in every city of this world. He’s the guy who screams “Almighty God!” at the top if his lungs during his sets. Sometimes Macho-Man is really strong; sometimes he’s not as strong as he thinks. Pointing him out is easy: after a spine-chilling cry of “everyone-look-at-me-while-I-heave-this-weight,” he slams the dumbbells to the floor, sticks out his chest, and walks away with his arms hanging from his sides like he’s got bricks stuck in his armpits, convinced the entire gym is impressed with his machismo. Macho-Man thinks of himself as the ultimate He-Man in his 10-year-old jogging pants – and truly believes his fellow members envy his physique.

I hate this guy. Every time he walks by, I want to remind him of the Rack Policy and offer him some coupons to Modell’s for new sportswear. But I can’t. His lack of gym etiquette is none of my business, and commenting on his clothes might garner me an unwelcome invitation to the Blue Oyster – and I don’t swing in that direction.

2 - The Office Weenie

The Office Weenie is similar to the groundhog in the sense that he appears during a particular month of every year. In The Office Weenie’s case, he’s only seen every January (purchasing a gym membership on the 2nd or 3rd of the month, and gone by the 21st).

This individual walks in without a clue about weight training and bounces from one bench to the next. He performs movements never-before-seen by the weight-training community, and assembles odd poundage’s on the barbells (experienced gym members know what I’m talking about). He (or ‘she’, but c’mon, we all know it’s usually a ‘he’) will engage in some half-assed set of an unheard movement, whimper during the lift, and walk away without disassembling his invention or returning the plates to the rack.

We tolerate him, because after 2 weeks we will never see him again. We pity him because he is alone. I myself have tried many a time to offer helpful advice to this creature, but my intentions are almost always met with a “you have no idea what you’re talking about” glance. When this happens, I return to my own workout, and secretly laugh to myself that this guy showed up in yellow shorts, blue sneakers, and white tube sock’s that sit just below his knees.

3 – The “I Still Live At Home With My Mom” Guy

“ISLAWMM” for short, he’s used to everyone picking up after him, because his mother babied him his entire life. He’s in his late 30’s or 40’s, been married about 3 times, and never learned that picking up after himself is a noble thing to do.

This is the guy I totally go out of my way to avoid, because he’s quick to start a conversation that involves him doing all the talking - and you doing all the listening. He takes pride in knowing he is better than everyone, and could do a better job of running the gym, running the city, and ultimately running the country. He’s quick to remind those within earshot that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, and that college is for pussies. “ISLAWMM” Guy never returns his weights to the racks because it’s his sole belief that he paid good money to join the gym, so “the f’n staff can put the weights away for me.” He loves to say that out loud too, thinking his bravado impresses the women on the treadmills – the very same women HE IS CONVINCED want him (the very same women who avoid him and Macho-Man).

Usually, “ISLAWNN” Guy just broke up with a girlfriend, and coincidentally, now has an order of protection against him (because he was stalking her).

4 – The Slob

The Slob is a creature that perplexes my mind. I’m mystified with his existence. I beat my head against pointy steel objects around the gym in search of the reasons for his continuation.

Not only does he disobey gym policy, he outright rebels. The Slob is convinced there is no need for order anywhere in the world, much less a need for weight racks in the gym. I have the unfortunate luck of always bumping into this guy in the bathroom (always asking, ‘why me’). I watch with great fascination as he takes the disposable towel he had just dried his hands with and tosses it NEXT to the trash bin – deliberately. Putting it INSIDE the trash bin would obviously contradict his refusal to conform with the rules of society.

This is one smelly guy, and the foul odor trails in his wake. Destruction and mayhem are his motto, as not only does he simply drop the dumbbell he is using during a set, but throws it to the floor with gusto. He sweats up a storm, and feels no obligation to wipe his wetness from the benches.

The Slob is blindly unaware that his fellow members wish him death. I don’t, because I never wish anyone an untimely demise. But I do wish he’d just go to another gym.

These are some of the types at fault for a messy gym, but others from different walks of life share the blame as well. Sure, these people annoy members who prefer to train in a clean and organized environment, but they cannot be blamed directly.

In the end, all the blame falls upon gym management. Much too often, I find myself joining a new gym because the last one was a wreck. It’s my pet peeve. I just can’t stand working out in a club where half my time is spent searching underneath racks and benches for equipment that I need. I always return my dumbbells/plates/equipment to their proper stations. I might get perturbed when I witness, first hand, someone breaking the rack’ em policy, but it’s not my business and I keep my mouth shut. It’s not my place to say anything. That’s the job of management.

But this article isn’t a cry to everyone that manages a gym. It would fall on deaf ears. Many health clubs today are owned by people who have no business running them. But I digress . . .

This article is a call-to-arms for all gym members. It is a plea for everyone to return the weights to where they belong. Why? Because it helps. It saves others the time of looking for what they need. It helps to keep things organized. It helps your fellow gym member to achieve a productive workout in a timely fashion. It helps people to . . . help people . . . which in turn . . . helps you!

It’s simple. It’s proper gym etiquette.

Help your gym, and help yourself.

Rack ‘Em!

© 2006 Jay Cascio




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