April 23, 2012

On Being a Horse’s Ass at the Gym

As part of an ongoing quest to experience more bliss and de-stressify the twisted circuitry of my cranky brain, I'm trying to get less pissed off about stuff. As it happens, the gym is a great laboratory for experimentation.

The gym is awesome because there are so many potential annoyances! I won’t even attempt to list them all. But current highlights include the constantly clogged toilets in the women’s restrooms, and meathead bodybuilders who, in order to prove their manliness, feel compelled to screw down the knobs on “adjustable” equipment so tightly that dynamite sticks are required in order to change the settings.

There is also the issue of my mental state when I arrive at the gym...

...which is fully caffeinated and amped for action.

Approximate size of Crabby's coffee cup:

Approximate strength of the coffee within:

The great aspect of this neurochemical “javactivation” is that it pumps up my motivation and endurance, gets me through strength training (ick), and makes for lovely little lightning bolts of euphoria as I dance on the elliptical to the pounding rhythms of my very odd playlist.

The downside of my hyper-aroused state? Minor irritations can easily explode into major rushes of self-righteous indignation.

The most heinous offense of late:  It’s the godawful television sets they’ve installed in the locker rooms, cranked up to high volume.

So I arrive in my own little cloud of pleasantly jittery pre-workout self-absorption and go to stow my stuff in a locker so I can start flailing and sweating, and I am brutally yanked from my anticipatory reverie by a sudden burst of senseless noise.

It could be the forced laughter of a talk show host sucking up to a celebrity with the IQ of a rutabaga, or the hysterical screeching of a game show contestant who just won a trip to Tahiti, or the braying of an infomercial pitchman trying to get me to buy a cat umbrella or an inflatable SUV or an electric toe jam remover. Whatever it is, it's pretty much guaranteed to be something unwelcome.

Unless they're broadcasting a public service announcement telling me precisely how to avoid being vaporized in an imminent alien attack?  I think the TV should shut the hell up. My reflexive emotional response to a blaring tv set that I have not turned on myself is: an uncontrollable surge of exasperation.

My next response is to scowl and sigh, and then I write irate letters in my head to the management and start imaginary worldwide Facebook campaigns to banish all public televisions (as opposed to Public Television, which can be annoying too with all those pledge drives but at least has stuff like Downton Abbey) and then I peer up at the tv set placed high on the wall above and wonder, if no one else happens to be around, if should try to clamber up on the lockers and try to find an off button and risk an awkward scene should an employee walk in unexpectedly, or if I'm not alone I might make a whiny comment about it to anyone who looks similarly irked. (And FYI, folks at the 24 Hour Fitness in Hillcrest, San Diego: the vast majority of women's locker room visitors polled HATE THE FREAKIN' TV! However it's possible there could be some sampling error due to the somewhat crazed demeanor of the particular pollster seeking opinions on this question).

On several occasions I've voiced my irritation to the personnel at the front desk (all very nice folks), and sometimes it's resulted in a reduction in volume and sometimes not.

But the last time I did this, I had an epiphany as I walked from the front desk toward my favorite elliptical machine.  It occurred roughly at the same moment I pulled out my mp3 player, put on my headphones and selected my current playlist:

Holy Crap what an asshole I am!

Are you ahead of me here?

I'd been creating this incredible drama in my head around my own irritation, repeating it over and over, day after day, and yet the answer was pretty simple:

Put your headphones on and pump up your music on BEFORE you go into the locker room, Crabby, if the TV bothers you that much. Moron!

And so I started doing that and voila!  Problem solved.

It does make me wonder though, how many other situations I could have avoided getting all riled up had I looked for solutions instead of getting distracted by my own sense of righteousness and weirdly personal sense of values. (Mindless TV is bad! Gyms shouldn't be hot! People shouldn't bring crying infants into movie theaters!)  I suspect there were lots of missed opportunities for happiness had I looked beyond my own view of how the world "should" be and just adjusted my behavior or expectations accordingly.

Sometimes it's as easy as asking myself "do you want to be all angry and annoyed? Do you like this feeling?" (Though unfortunately, sometimes the answer to these question seems to be "yes" and it takes a long freakin' time to let go of whatever it is. But weirdly enough, when the answer is a heartfelt "No!" I find I'm getting better at moving on).

Anyway, I'm sure I'll keep on being an asshole a lot of the time, as I've had 5 decades of practice, but I'm hoping I'll at least try to look beyond my own easily inflamed sense of indignation a little more often.

EXCITING UPDATE: So whaddya know?  On my last two visits to the gym the locker room TV's had been turned off!!!  Thank you, 24 Hour Fitness in Hillcrest, San Diego! 

Also, clever reader Lynn suggested this delightfully evil potential solution: the TV-Be-Gone!

How about you guys, anyone else find sources of irritation connected to working out? Or have other ideas for un-pissing yourself off?

Picture Credits:
Horse's Ass: deflam
Big Coffee Cup: abu
Strong coffee: sh0dan


  1. Hahaha-- this post is hilarious. I also get myself all worked up quite often, and yes, sometimes perversely enjoy being angry.
    Thanks for making Monday morning a little more pleasant with a dose of humorous self-awareness :)

  2. Oh man do I relate! I get really annoyed at the gym with grunters, show-offs, and lazy people. So pretty much everyone. My biggest pet peeve of all though is during yoga when people breathe loud enough for the entire class to hear.

    I suppose it's a good thing I have started working out at home...

  3. Wait, what??? I have the power to not let myself be irritated over the little things? Where's the fun in that?!? LOL. You made me chuckle this morning (and perhaps see myself, too)!

  4. Oh my...you've hit on one of my biggest peeves!! I HATE TV! And they are everywhere!! And one of the last places they should be are in gyms and doctor's offices. God forbid we have some time not being distracted by a freaking talking screen! GRRRRRRRRRR!

    ::::::::DEEEEEEP BREATH::::::::

    So how do un-piss myself off? I take a deep breath or 10 (LOL) and like you, I tell myself that my peace of mind isn't worth it!

  5. Extraneous noise like blaring TVs and children irk the daylights out of me. Usually I tell myself that it's only for a few minutes and then I can have my peace back.
    It often works, though there are days when the irk takes over.

  6. After belonging to or working at a gym off and on for the last 25 years, I can tune out just about everything. But one thing that I just can't handle is people who sweat up a storm and then walk away without wiping down their equipment. That is totally inconsiderate. You would not want to wipe your face with my sweat towel, so please don't think I want to touch your elliptical, or whatever, after you've had your sweaty paws all over it.

  7. I can't hear you, Crabby, over the blare of the damned TV!!
    That bothers me, too.
    Oh, wait..... I don't use a gym, so it doesn't bother me there.
    I have become less tolerant in my dotage, so perhaps I need to take a page from your book and start thinking of ways to change my response.

  8. When I used to go to the gym, I used to get irritated with the guys who were brand new to the gym, who thought they were Muhammed Ali boxing, they would prance around, like "I got this" and it was annoying to the rest of us who had been there awhile, the only satisfying part was the instructor constantly having to correct their form while boxing. I don't go to a gym anymore because I can't afford it, but I try not to let things bother me that is irrelevant. Being hot though, that is a national crisis, I am with you on that, I do not want to be uncomfortable before I start my workout.

  9. During a recent stay in CA I joined a 24hr Fitness, and the TVs made me crazy, too. I was so thankful that they didn't have one out by the hot tub. I'm lucky that I can take out my hearing aids and turn down the noise.
    My pet peeve is restaurants that have the "background" music on so loud I can't hear anyone at the table.


  10. Wow!! TV's in the locker room! Even my fabulous gym doesn't have that!

    I like many more things at my gym than I don't. Since this post is about what we don't, I'd say my biggest complaints have been about noise. For a while, we had hand dryers in the locker room that made a jet engine sound peaceful! Those have been replaced. The other is the high noise level with some aerobic classes. I avoid those, have complained, as medically I know that many people will end up with hearing aids or tinnitus because of their laxity in dealing with this issue. One heavy metal rock concert as a kid taught me this lesson long before getting an MD!

  11. http://www.tvbgone.com/cfe_tvbg_main.php

    I personally think the over-abundance of television everywhere I go in highly unwelcome. I've not yet bought one of these because I am very good at putting on headphones and ignoring the world, but... something to think about.

  12. I am terrible at not sweating the small stuff like this.

    But one thing about blaring TVs (or music even) at a gym has always puzzled me that you kind of touched on. In this day and age so many people gave earbuds in listening to music on various gadgets. Do we even NEED piped in noise?

    I just joined the new Super Sport 24 Hr Fitness on Balboa, and need to get in there today to get my sign-in stuff set up. Now I'm going to have my eyes peeled for a TV in the locker room!

  13. Oh good, I'm not the only one who finds things to be irritated about at the gym!

    Love all these very legitimate gripes.

    So weirdly enough, the tv was off when I went to the gym yesterday, and I almost felt badly thinking that my whining could have been the reason others were forced to miss their morning fix.

    I got over that in about half a second though. And I'm sure the damn tv will be back on and cranked up tomorrow!

  14. OMG.. just clicked on Lynn's link and if this thing actually exists I gotta have a TV-be-gone!

  15. Great read! Thanks for sharing! And I will keep this in mind next gym visit!

  16. I am perpetually pissed off and always feel like a bad person for it. And I probably am, but YOU have validated my reality and made me feel so much better. (At least I have good company.)

    I hate the TVs, but my biggest peeve are the women who leave big chunks of hair on the shower walls. Ewwwwww. I have long hair and also have some excess when I wash it--but I make sure to clean it up before I leave the shower.

    This is not gym related, but if I may share what I think is the funniest p-o'd story ever: My husband (usu. the sweetest, most patient human on earth who things I'm charmingly assertive rather than a PITA) was meeting me for a meditation class. He was running late, then got stuck in slow-moving traffic--at which point he found himself yelling, "Get the fk out of my way! I've gotta get to meditation!"

  17. "I suspect there were lots of missed opportunities for happiness had I looked beyond my own view of how the world "should" be and just adjusted my behavior or expectations accordingly."

    BINGO! I love this and need to keep it in mind at all times. What can I do to change things...I have finally learned (almost) that I can only change me.

  18. OMG - love! How long do you have to listen to me bitch about 24 Hour Fitness & lack of maintenance of all equipment - even their "fancier" gyms PLUS never replacing things gone missing! Good thing I love pumping iron & working it out! :-) I am going to write a letter though as a member since 1982 & they just keep getting worse with all this..

    And yes, I do dislike the people that leave tons of weight plates on machines or drop dumbbells anywhere they stop whether they are light or not and on I could go! ;-)

    I plug in the headphones & just try to get it done & don't let some of this get to me. My workout is too important to me! :-)

    I love your posts! Can you pour me one of your cups of coffee!!!

  19. But Crabby, you have to stay pissed off because you are so darn funny when you are! Cat umbrellas and inflatable SUV's indeed! I'm totally with you on the TV''s in public places-- wish we could go back to not having them at airport terminals, gyms, doctor's waiting rooms, etc. Worst-- the TV in dermatologist's office showing marketing videos for icky plastic surgery procedures, including video of actual procedures-- blargh.

  20. I second the recommendation for TV-B-gone. I don't have one; I seldom enter public spaces with TVs, but if my life changes I will get one. In the meantime, don't look for the off switch, look for the plug!
    My strategy in doctor's offices with TV or radio is to say "I'll be right outside."

    But at my gym I can't turn my iPod up loud enough to drown out the music (TV is captioned) completely without damaging my hearing. So don't lose the outrage to easily.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  21. great article...i would suggest a universal remote to crank the volume down every time you walk in..lol

  22. Don't get me started on the annoyances at my gym. Oh wait...it already happened. Starting with rude women in my Sat Am Body Pump class, overcrowded classes, neurotic folks who love to stand in front of the class and refuse to follow the instructor routine, people who are late to spin and expect their bikes to still be available.

    Ugh..some days it's better to just suffer with my apt complex gym and my DVDs.

  23. For me, it's not the gym, it's while driving. That's where i'm working on not allowing my blood pressure to spike every 10 seconds.

    It's so difficult, but noticing when i'm not being too nice helps me slow my mind down from picking on everyone else.

  24. I don't workout at a gym, but I share a bike trail with all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. Generally, riding makes me feel pretty easy going but I hate it when people stop right on the bike trail. Whether it's on their bikes, or while pushing a barbecue across (yep, that happened on my last ride) -- it caused a clusterfook of epic proportions plus some swearing by me.

    I dunno, sometimes getting angry is the right response. I hope your complaining will lead to the removal of the TVs.

  25. Oh, yeah, I want to know more about your odd playlist.

  26. Oh goodness you guys crack me up!

    @Lee... you may be sorry you asked about my odd playlist-- Stay tuned! (so to speak).

    and @Liz: "Get the fk out of my way! I've gotta get to meditation...Too funny!

  27. In public, TV's and children should be seen and not heard.

  28. Sometimes I have to run on the treadmill in my gym, and they have a bank of TVs overhead. I usually try to seek out a TV that is showing a soap opera or Rachael Ray or Judge Alex or something totally mindless and shiny, but sometimes I get stuck in front of one of the TVs that shows Fox News*, which is like my personal version of hell. I know that the easy solution would be to not look, but I can't help it! I can't not look any more than I can't not bite my hangnails or touch a sore tooth. It hurts yet I am compelled to keep doing it.

    I try to turn it into a positive by using it as motivation to get through my speed intervals as quickly as possible.

  29. The people who annoy me the most at my gym are the ones that come into an hour long group fitness class 20 minutes late. Inevitably, they also invade my space. How is it that the only available real estate is right on top of me?

  30. Hahaha that was pretty funny. I usually stick to the powders though when I'm going to the gym instead of coffee. Check out http://www.suppcodes.com or any other coupon website before you purchase because maybe there will be a code that can save you money!

  31. LMFAO Crabby! This is hilarious and I'm with you on the gyms in the locker room. Back in January, they removed primo counter space used by us early morning exercisers and installed a couple of televisions in its stead. Rather than live with this bad decision, we told administration to keep it off in the morning and they listened. So now the first one of us to arrive on the weekends get to shut the damn thing off.

  32. This is awesome. What annoys me the most at the gym are the people that stack ungodly amounts of weight onto a lift, don't even get one full rep in because of awful form (usually with grunts), and then walk around like they're tougher than everyone. Cracks me up.

  33. After several years in my gym, I've learned to let most of the little quirks go. But the one thing that drives me up the wall is someone coming up to me telling which exercise I should be doing!
    If I ask someone for advice on my form, that's one thing. But to come to me, unsolicited, and tell me I am doing the wrong exercise in the first place? AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

  34. In my opinion, TVs and loudspeakers blasting music don't have a place at gyms.

    You want to listen to music, fine, use your earphones. For anyone else all that noise is simply distracting, which, coincidentally, is one of the reasons why I chose to work out at home.

    Heck, the worst contraption I have seen at gyms is cardio machines that actually have television sets *built into them*. I don't know about you, but you either concentrate on your cardio sesson or watch television. You can't do both.

  35. Love this and the responses...I hardly need to comment because I already feel so well represented in what has been written - the crabbiness, the righteousness and the occasional wisdom that sparks up to help me out of my (mostly internal) rants. Also tv-b-gone is a fabulous link!

    Thank you all...

  36. Luckily my absfuel fat burner helps keep my moods level haha except when someone hogs the abductor machine!

  37. Nice! Made me laugh. Thanks I need that.


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