Almost everyone in the gym shows up to work for a goal, be it overall health, bulking up, losing weight, or increased power and flexibility. Of course, there are a million different fitness roads you can take to get there and watching others work it out can be fascinating and (occasionally) giggle inducing. Whether you're attracted to the average man or a more muscular build, you've undoubtedly checked out your fellow gym goers getting their groove on. Here's a guide to decoding the most common types of gym guys and what we can learn from them. That is, when you're not just ogling their form.
- The Former Athlete: The rest of the team may be just as tall as him now, but he's still the big man on campus. He shows up sporting his college gear though his frat days are a distant memory. He watches the game on the TV while cycling or running, but is dedicated to his workout. What's to love? Men with years of workout experience just get better with age. They remind us to appreciate a challenge — be it an occasional marathon, game of pick me up, or Sunday soccer league. The healthiest way to relive your glory days is to keep them alive.
- The "I Will Pump You Up" Dude: Mike "The Situation." Vin Diesel. Jake Gyllenhaal circa Prince of Persia. These buffed up boys sustain themselves with protein shakes and pump serious iron. Why do we love them? Whether you like the body or not, you have to hand it to muscle-minded men for understanding the importance of a well-rounded routine. It takes daily dedication to maintain a beefcake bod.
- The Marathoner: These guys head to the gym to get sweaty and compete with themselves. They are focused, goal-oriented, and typically don't pay much attention to other gym goers. Why do we love them? Runners understand that stretching is crucial, as is working different muscle groups and maintaining a schedule. They also know it's smart to plan days off to let your muscles heal and keep your knees healthy.
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- The Guy with a Goal: Whether these men are trying to lose weight, train for an event, or just keep in shape is usually a mystery, but we've all noticed the fellas with notepads, the heart rate monitor, and fitness apps galore. Why do we love em? They remind us that having a specific goal and striving to break through a fitness slip or plateau is paramount. Make a goal and reward yourself when you reach it.
- The Man in Crisis (Usually Midlife): His face and expressions may be little bit weathered, but he's working on a healthy body. These guys remind us life changes are a healthy reason to get back in the gym after a hiatus.
- The Health Student: What does the pumped up or former athlete need? A sidekick! This gym newbie shadows his more experienced pal for tips and tricks. What's to love? The buddy system is a surefire way to challenge yourself and keep yourself accountable.
- The Gentleman He wipes off his machine, and lets you use it first if you arrive at the same time. He's friendly, but he doesn't look you in the eye. We love the gentleman because he doesn't sexualize or socialize the gym experience. He's just there to work out and knows you are too.
- The Crunchy Guy: He uses the elliptical wearing Tevas and REI gear. He's in every yoga class and wouldn't be caught dead without his Sigg water bottle. What's to love? The hippie guy knows the importance of working out for mind, body, and soul.
- The Grandpa: He moves a little slower on the track, but he's steady and strong. Older grandfather figures know age ain't nothing but a number and health requires a lifetime commitment to healthy habits.
- The Know-It-All: He tells you (and anyone who will listen) what to do and how to optimize their workout. He corrects people's form. He wears braces somewhere on his body while working out in a fitness-related tee. What's to love? As agitating as it is to have a stranger tell you what to do, he reinforces the fact that sometimes you do need support from a personal trainer or expert.
Honorable Mention: The Flirt (See the "I Will Pump You Up" Dude. See the Guy With a Goal. See the Former Athlete. See the Man in Crisis.) Fact: The gym is full of sweaty people exuding pheromones and wearing tight clothes. It's natural to notice other people's bodies, but the professional gym flirt can't put down his game while he picks up the weights. He may spend more time chatting up the regulars than worrying about intervals. What's to love? If you're lucky, love. If you're not, the reminder that it's nice to share healthy interests with your spouse.
Naturally, we all appreciate different things and learn differently. What's your favorite gym guy type and why?