Tuesday, April 8, 2014

what you're doing wrong: gym ed.

I consider myself an expert on quite a few things. Probably way more things than I should. But I mean, this is minor expertise. Like, lower-case e expert. I realize that on any given topic there are probably people with doctorate degrees and forty years of experience. Real Experts. I have neither of those in regards to anything on earth, so take my expertise on anything with a grain of salt. 

But for real now. I'm no vision of a physical specimen. But I'm pretty much an expert on what you should be doing at the gym. (If only I could also be an expert on How Not to Eat All the Cake in the Break Room...then you might actually take me seriously.) I've been a regular gym attendee for the better part of the last decade. I may not be a personal trainer or fitness class leader, but I think it's safe to say that I understand the essence of what most people should be doing at the gym. And I'm going to share it with you today. For free (*ahem*, personal trainers who charge a crap ton of money at my gym...pay attention here. PEOPLE LIKE FREE.)

How to Succeed at the Gym:


Preferably, you should be doing something that you cannot or would not be doing while sitting on your couch at home.

Examples of things you should be doing at the gym: running, walking, stretching, picking up heavy things, jumping, cycling, dancing, holding your body in contorted poses, reaching, bending, skipping, sweating, pushing, punching, climbing. Choose one or 10...if you are doing any of these things while at the gym, you're fine by me. 

Now if all you ever do is walk, are you going to get huge muscles and defined abs? Probably not, but that's neither here nor there. I can't really help you get to your personal goal- I'm not a personal trainer. But if you're walking, you're meeting my personal standard of doing something you cannot do while sitting on your couch at home, and therefore you're meeting my standard for appropriate gym usage.

I feel like my standard here is reeeeeaally low. REAAALLLLLY attainable. If you are basically MOVING at the gym, you earn a high five from me.

You wanna know what does NOT earn a high five from me? And may even earn you an eye roll or sigh of disappointment?

This. Which I observe approximately 228 times a day at my gym.


Are you kidding me, people? Really?? You're going to go to all the trouble of putting on workout clothes, driving across town, finding parking, locking up your bags, and then you're going to go TAKE UP VALUABLE MACHINE REAL ESTATE SO THAT YOU CAN TEXT AND CHECK FACEBOOK?!?! Is your couch at home broken??

If texting counted as working out, America would not have an obesity problem. So keep that in mind as you sit there not breaking a sweat, making tiny movements with your thumbs. YOU ARE NOT WORKING OUT. You need to go home.

I'm not judging everyone walking around with a phone. I'm one of them. I totally understand that you're listening to music and that you might have a panic attack at the thought of not being reachable for an entire hour. That's me, too. But occasionally glancing down to see if an incoming text or email is urgent, or starting and stopping the timer for your circuits, or skipping the 20th Pitbull song in a row to come on your Pandora station-- all which are totally fine things to be doing while still moving and working out-- takes about two seconds at a time. I'm judging you-- yes YOU-- sitting there for 10 minutes at a time, CLEARLY just texting for the fun of it, and NOT bothering to get up and let other people...you know, people who are actually trying to exercise...use the equipment you're hogging.

I'm thankful that my current gym is large enough and has enough equipment to accommodate both the textercising crowd and the rest of us...but seriously. It's still ridiculous. 

AND FURTHERMORE. If your idea of working out is showing up (in cute workout clothes, I'll give you that) with your sorority sistah and walking up and down the rows of machines, taking turns doing measly sets while you both text and converse as one of you does 12 reps of something and the other one watches/texts, then you switch...here's a news flash. You're basically not doing anything. You're burning like 2 calories. Doing 12 reps of a seated exercise (while pausing for a text break mid-set!!) and then having a five minute break before you do your next something? Your heart rate isn't up. You're not breaking a sweat. And so forgive me if I snicker as you two complain that you're not seeing the amazing results you'd anticipated getting out of your gym membership.

(I'm not judging anyone for not getting amazing results-- I mean, neither am I. But that's due to my aforementioned cake problem and the inability (or unwillingness, rather) to eat less than 5,000 calories a day. So I can pat myself on the back for doing it right at the gym...but I need someone to follow me around 24/7 and slap the desserts out of my hands.)

In conclusion, if you need a nice place to hang out and text for the next hour, I would recommend going to your couch, a coffee shop, a (parked) car, or a bench in a park. All of these places are totally great spots to park your derriere and let your thumbs fly across your screen at lightning speed. Plus, all of those places probably smell good. Leave the gym equipment for those of us pathetically trying to make amends for our eleven cupcake indiscretions today. Thanks!  


  1. Wait... I text on almost all lifting machines! I find it's MUCH less awkward to check my phone after every set than to stare at other people! So I do a lift 10 times and then take a break in between sets and will just glance at my phone during the rest. You have to give your body a good :60 or so in between each set and there's not a lot you can do during that time! Now.... if you're talking about someone sitting there for a long time texting, then I'm with you!

    1. Nah, you're good!! I think that as long as you're actually exercising for at least, like...50% of the time you're on the machine, you're fine. Rests between sets are totally understandable. But not parking it there for 5 minutes of uninterrupted phone time. ;)

  2. Haha, I totally agree. But wait. . . do I have to actually spend time in a gym to agree with you? These texting people burning 2 calories are burning, well. . . 2 more calories than me!!!

  3. I feel like I need photos of this. Maybe a few pretend selfies but the screen is really flipped??? It could be a thing... don't get caught lounging or you'll end up publicly humiliated on Erika's blog!

  4. I like Amanda's suggestion above! It could be like your own version of "People of Wal-Mart." When I actually had a gym membership (a thousand years ago, give or take), smart phones weren't a thing, so I don't remember the texting/surfing being the issue I can imagine it is now. There was, however, a woman, who dressed like she had come straight from the set of Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical" video--and this was in 2006. I nicknamed her "1984". If only my dinky phone had had a camera back then...

  5. Another no no at the gym is sticking a big wad of chewing tobacco in your mouth before your workout and reaching for your spit bottle in between reps. Seriously witnessed this the other day!

  6. Well since I don't go to a gym either they are still getting more accomplished than me I suppose. haha BUT I am guessing just like every place else you go nowadays please are so attached to their phones they pay attention to nothing else..sigh.

  7. This reminds me of how, when I worked full-time, I convinced Wade to get up at an ungodly hour each week day to work out with me. Because he was a good sport, he would come with me whether he felt like it or not, but on tired days, he would sit and watch tv in a little lounge area, or "stretch" for 30 minutes, or just sit on a bench and fall asleep - all in his workout clothes, ha! Good husband, that one.

  8. Best thing I read here: textercising. It might just fit my Honey perfectly. I stole that image and emailed him. Awesome!!

    1. Has textercising been published or coined yet? If not, someone needs to get on it! :-)

  9. LOVE this. I also love the comments. :) You're the best!

  10. I used to drag Brian to the gym with me twice a week at 5:15 am and he is (a) not a workout person and (b) not a morning person. So I was not all that surprised when I would turn around from my treadmill only to find him lying down on a weight bench watching ESPN on TV. Boys :)

  11. YESSS. so true. My frustration was when there was a guy flirting with a girl on a machine I WANTED. I sat there working out on the leg press for .. forever because they couldn't flirt anywhere else. #feelyourpain side note: I took the HIIT class you mentioned and it kicked my bottay. like woah.

  12. I'm loving your humor and straight-up insights on what we do wrong inside the gym! Having a fit lifestyle is definitely attaining worldwide prominence from various walks of life, and these observations may have been the ones that bought about this growth. Do you think putting up big signs and banners inside a gym delivering subtle hints to make people guilty about texting while on the machines would work? Haha! Anyway, this are very welcome observations! Stay fit at keep on burning those cupcakes!

    Ari @ InFighting

  13. Okay, do people seriously spend money to textercise at the gym?!?! Crazy.

    It's like the people at the gym I used to go to who would only go for the massage chairs. Not exercising people, not exercising.


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