It’s 8:30 in the morning, and I’m at the gym, finishing up a set of power cleans. There are approximately 10 other people in the gym at this time. Even though I’ve never met them, I feel like I could walk over and start a conversation as if we were old-time buddies. Not because I’m particularly outgoing or that I slack off when I work out, but because I recognize them as representatives of the predominant roles of a gym.

You can go to any gym, with any kind of machines or free weights, and these main groups will always be present. Over in the corner, always facing the mirror and wearing the sleeveless t-shirt, is the curl jockey. He warms up with bicep curls, does working sets with bicep curls, and burns out with bicep curls. No one’s told him that biceps make up two percent of your body’s total muscle mass. Not that I have any quarrel with the curl jockey, but sometimes he ends up curling in the squat rack.

On the other side of the gym, I spot the proponents of the “Core Strength” doctrine. If ever these guys get stuck in an earthquake, while wearing roller blades and skating on an oil slick, they’ll certainly be able to clean and press a 30-pound dumbbell – while standing on a large ball. They can also be seen doing hanging leg raises, with a partner holding on for extra resistance, in the squat rack. But don’t be fooled, a core strength guy can probably grab you with his abs and proceed to do backflips on a large ball.

To my left, repping 365 on the bench press is large, intense, scary dude. He is the envy of all those who know what it takes to get that strong, and the derision of those who want to stay cut all year ’round and refuse to use the most powerful anabolic substance known to man – food. These intimidating fellows have a soft side, though. They are usually happy to share tips, give you a spot or growl “Spot me! Encourage me!”

Upstairs are, as I call them, the cardio bunnies. Lean, toned and possessing a great VO2 max, these people spend hours cycling, running or ellipticalling, and they probably have a better chance of outrunning and surviving a stampede of angry hippopotami than we, those muscle guys. Occasionally, for a change, they come downstairs into the squat rack to throw 20 pounds on the bar and proceed to bang out 50 quasi-squats.

I’m sure everyone has seen “those” guys. They saunter into the gym, looking as if they are carrying kegs under each arm, usually wearing baggy jeans, long-sleeve shirts and boots. They chat it up, laugh amongst themselves and try to hit on the ladies (who are putting up more pounds than all of “those” guys could combined), but they never actually do anything. It’s not my place to tell them where to socialize, I guess, just as long as they don’t socialize in the squat rack.

Finally, there are those who walk in wearing Converses and toting a small journal to record their lifts, and performing ancient and arcane rituals of strength. Deadlifts? Barbell rows? Olympic squats? They will more likely than not leave a trail of sweat wherever they walk. There’s nothing too special about these guys – they aren’t huge and fit well within the bounds of normal human anatomy. But they have the work ethic, and they have headphones, so as not to be distracted from the task at hand. Most importantly, they know that the squat rack exists for one reason: squats.

I appreciate that Goergen is accommodating for all of these groups. Some places prohibit deadlifting and others will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t. Luckily, the rules are pretty lenient and allow people to train in what way they see fit. All we need now, I guess, is a bodybuilder’s meal plan.

Deland is a member of the class of 2010.



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