dealing with self-absorbed seniors at the gym

I’m not going to call out an entire group of self-absorbed people and complain about them all being self-absorbed. That would be stereotyping, profiling. Like saying all teenagers are assholes. Instead, I will make an observation about a certain mentality I’ve noticed about some people at my gym. Some people at the gym don’t understand they’re in public. I exercise at an everyday people gym. It’s family-friendly. No one would confuse my gym for a place you might find in South Beach.

sharing the gym with senior citizens

A few friends and I signed on with a personal trainer who is kicking our collective asses by lunging and squatting ourselves into shape, dammit. We love him. We pay extra for this privilege. The only downside is that we don’t have a designated room or spot to train. It’s not usually a problem to commandeer a place in the gym. The ladies doing T.R.X. along one wall are, by design, contained in a certain area and we shout out encouragements to each other once in a while. We all seek the same thing at the gym and respect each other.


personal trainer at YMCA

There are certain high-traffic times when it’s hard to find someplace to work-out. Sometimes we end up on one side of the basketball court, until the fitness zombies start arriving. The Biters are very slow and creep around before we know they’ve infiltrated our space. Their exercise class starts in 40 minutes, but still, at 9:20, they start coming. They set up chairs around us as we try to spread out. We try to exert dominance over the area, like when you purposely put your forearm on an airplane seat armrest. Once you notice the Walkers’ self-absorption, you can’t not obsess about them. With each burpee, you fan a little further out of the circle. Jumping jacks propel you outward.

senior citizens on exercise balls with weights
photo via

The space hogs leisurely raid the weight rack and place their 1 and 2 pound weights at their feet. They re-fill their work-out thermoses with hot coffee and watch us sweat with indifference. Sometimes, they read newspapers. Their deafening ultra-loud jitterbug cell phones interrupt your flow. After cleaning their trifocals, the self-absorbed get more towels in case they sweat. You can spot them from their thick terry cloth head bands and brand new white sneakers.

there is no place to escape them

At times, their exercise street clothes or high-waisted dockers give them away. Which is not to say that we are bastions of fitness or gym fashion. Truly, we are glad they are there. We applaud anyone who goes to the gym, for whatever reason, at any age and at any fitness level. Still, we gird our loins. We want to scream, “It’s not time for Yakety Yak by The Coasters yet! We have thirty more minutes in this space, bitches!” Instead, we suffer in silence.

self absorbed senior citizen at the gym
photo by

Maybe we are a little afraid. We know these same folks will soon make their way to the locker rooms, blow-drying their anatomical parts that are now four inches below where they started. And they like nudity, these people. I thought most people were modest? They just don’t give a shit. About anyone. Body confidence gone amuck. As if they’re taunting others in the locker room. “You gonna say anything about my granny panties? I was wearing these before you were born!” Thanks. I can never not know that now. They sit on the locker room benches naked. They don’t wear flip-flops in the shower area because no fungus could ever penetrate their insanely thick toenails.

Please tell me we can stop the cycle. We enter this world completely self-absorbed, and apparently are destined to leave this world in the same way. Say it isn’t so?

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One Comment

  1. V

    Welcome back! That was a lovely rant. I really do not like to shower at the gym, because I really do not want those visuals irreversibly ingrained.

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