Until my knee injury, I hadn't really spent much time in gyms. I've spent time in high school gyms and college gyms, but not weight rooms or health club-type places. And certainly not in a mostly public weight room on the North Side of Chicago.
I've come to find that blocking out distractions at the gym is near as difficult as the feats of strength and tests of endurance we undertake. In order to summarize the madness, I've broken the "gym people" into five broad categories.
THE NARRATOR--This person likes to loudly detail all of his or her actions in the gym. "Let's see if I can do 150 on the bench this week" or "maybe next time I'll do the leg presses" or "wow, I'm sore." It's best to avoid eye contact with this person. Actually, it's best to avoid eye contact with most everyone at the gym.
THE TV ADDICT--This person turns up the volume on the one crappy gym TV so that it can be heard over the whirr of the treadmills and ellipticals. Usually he or she prefers a show like "American Idol" or "Deal or No Deal."
THE WEAKLING--These people put way more weight on the machine than they should. They can do one or two reps of 400 pounds but then the whole rack comes crashing down for everyone to hear when there joints give out.
THE SPEEDSTER--This person doesn't really do a complete curl, leg press, bench or anything. They fly through every set in a really half-ass way, mostly achieving nothing.
THE FRIENDS--These people actually have a loud conversation across the gym, yukking it up while "American Idol" blares on the television. Believe me, when you are on the treadmill at Mile 1.5 (hey, I'm still rehabbing) and your thoracic diaphragm is about to explode, these are the last people you want around.