Another day, another gross story from the gym. Thankfully, this tale details significantly fewer threats to my personal health and hygiene as my last gym horror story, but I still find it quite appalling. I guess by now it’s probably not hard to imagine what’s so offensive this time around, what with my headline spilling the beans rather obviously. Still, I’m never one to turn away from telling a compelling yarn, especially when it highlights a breach of etiquette, hygiene, or some ungodly mixture of both…
Yesterday, I hit up the gym, and for the most part, it seemed to be a very productive experience. Not only did I sufficiently wear myself down, but I also crossed paths with a few D-list celebrities: Stephen Spinella (a.k.a. the weasly Miles from season five of 24) and the two-for-one America’s Most Smartest Model combo of Brett and “Pickel.” It wasn’t much by way of star wattage, but it certainly was better than today’s gym offerings: Zach from Real World: Key West and what I think was Ross The Intern. Blech. (Update: It wasn’t Ross The Intern, but it was a fat doppleganger who still incurs my wrath for making me look up the real Ross and see his terrible Youtube videos.)
Nevertheless, with a light sprinkling of celebrity in the workout, it seemed as though nothing could kill the good vibes. I should have known though that sooner or later, some ignorant and disgusting gym-goer would sour my mood. Sure enough, I encountered the first of two flagrant sweaters. No, I’m not talking about a sweater like the comfy garment one puts on to stave away frigid temperatures. I’m talking about people who sweat so intensely that their shirts instantly become translucent windows into their often unsightly bodies. Now, I may be a dick, but I do occasionally have moments of sympathy, and while sweating is fairly gross, no one can really control it; so I’m not necessarily going to begrudge anyone just because I can see every nipple and oversized back-pimple through their shirt (although, a darker t would be nice). What I will begrudge people for is what they do with their free-flowin’ sweat. People who wipe down their seats and equipment are A-OK with me. People who go the extra mile and actually get the little anti-bacterial spritzer out are even better. But people who do nothing in the face of such disgusting liquids earn nothing but my complete and utter disdain.
Anyway, I was sitting at some machine yesterday, and this one guy plopped himself down next to me at another piece of equipment, which, thank God, I didn’t have to use. Immediately I could tell this guy was awful. In fact, I can sum up both his hairstyle and the way I felt about him in one succinct word: dreads.
Yes, with the stench of patchouli oil floating around him like some hazy, protective armor, this guy had several burgeoning dreads stemming from his head. Well, they only stemmed from the back of his head. He had kind of a dread-mullet: business in the front, AWFULNESS in the back. This was all bad news for me because in general, I try to avoid people with dreads in gyms. I’m not against dreads necessarily, but I also don’t want to smell them when they’ve been moistened by sweat-tinged air. Making matters worse was that this guy was in his mid-forties, and I simply do not trust middle-aged men with dreads (women are okay — so don’t you worry, Toni Morrison). Dreadlocks connote youthful activism (read: pot smoking), and while people may never grow out of their lofty political ideals (or pot smoking), they should grow out of their dreads. When guys keep their dreads too long, it seems less like they’re holding onto their activist youth, and more like they simply don’t want to take a shower — which brings me back to another reason why this gym-goer was repulsing me so. (I know, I know. I make too many assumptions and generalizations. Whatever. YOU didn’t have to sit next to him).
Nevertheless, this guy was awful in so many ways. I mean, even his individual dreads looked bad, and if he didn’t have high enough standards to tend to his stupid hair, he clearly wasn’t going to be observing good hygiene at the gym. Sure enough, when he peeled himself off the exercise equipment, he did NOT — I repeat — he did NOT wipe down the seat back. We’ve all seen this happen before, and it’s an unsettling sight, but this was one of the worst instances I’d witnessed. You see, the guy’s shirt was so soaked through that it had become totally saturated. That meant any new sweat was immediately deposited on the gym equipment. There wasn’t just a light moist spot on the machine (as is usually the case). There was a full on swath of undeniably visible SWEAT coating the seat back, from the very top to about three-quarters down. Pure, dripping wetness. And this moron didn’t even attempt to wipe it up! What the f?? Granted, he had a towel, but that poor sucker was being reserved for special moments: like an occasional wipe of the brow. It was pretty horrid, but oh, it got worse.
I later headed over to the cardio area, and that’s when I encountered the second flagrant sweater of the day. This guy was bad because he not only profusely sweated all over the place, but he actually inflicted bad hygiene on himself. Here’s what happened. I waltzed over to the Stairmaster section, and there trudging up the never-ending staircase to physical fitness was some middle-aged man with Richard Simmons hair and a similarly Simmons-esque tank top (loose, saggy, ugly — but sadly no sparkles). Hey, gym attire is gym attire, but if you’re gonna sweat up a storm, you might as well wear something with more absorptive powers.
Anyway, this guy was relentlessly heading up those stairs and sweating so hard I thought maybe he had three leaking bags of saline solution hidden under his tank-top. He wasn’t going particularly fast on the machine, but he clearly was running low on stamina, as evidenced by his barely upright body. You see, he had propped his elbows on the sidebars, clutching the center console with his hands, thus creating a makeshift cradle for his entirely-too-heavy head. Of course, all this did was make it easier for sweat to drip off his face and onto the Stairmaster below (and let’s not overlook the increased surface area of the sidebars which came in contact with this guys sweaty forearms). Well, his straddling of the sidebars was gross enough, but what was worse was that he was stomping up those stairs barefooted.
That’s right. HE HAD NO SHOES.
And I’m not saying he had socks on. No, I’m saying bare mother-effin feet! ON THE STAIRMASTER!!!
In case you’re still not grasping the scope of the situation, let me put it this way: the sweat flowed off his face, landed on the stairs, intermingled with old sweat from previous gym members, and then sloshed all over his exposed feet. It was beyond repulsive. I mean, I was so shocked that I turned to see if anyone else had noticed, but they all seemed to be in their own worlds. I couldn’t believe this guy. Who DOES that? Does he want athlete’s foot? Chances are he already has it, not to mention whatever else might be colonizing on those nasty soles.
And of course, it should come as no surprise that when this guy was done, he made no effort to wipe up his mess. I’m telling you, it was so nasty that one woman came by five minutes later, saw the machine, recoiled, and moved on to another. Had she come close to getting onto it, I would have advised her otherwise. Disgusting.
Where do these people come from?