Believe it or not, there’s a lot to whine about in a group exercise class -- like the other members. At the top of my whine list is the Floor Hog, who invariably saunters into the room three to five minutes after the class begins and sets up shop within inches of me. There is an intuitive and tacitly agreed upon distance between exercisers, and the Floor Hog violates that rule. If I stay where I am, I will bang into her (and she into me), but if I move to the right, then I’ll run into someone else. Doesn’t the Floor Hog see this?
Yes, of course, she does. But hers is a deliberate tactic, executed to guarantee herself her favorite spot on the floor. It works like this: If she arrives early to claim her space (like the rest of us), she risks having it usurped by some other Floor Hog, coming in late, and forcing her to move. Her modus operandi is to be the MOVEher, rather than the Moveme.
I re-position my mat and equipment a foot to the right, thereby forcing the person to my right to move further to her right. She glares at me, and I point an accusatory finger at the Floor Hog. She nods and moves, thereby forcing the person to her right to also move – and so it goes, down the row.
You think I’m making this up? That I’m paranoid? I’m not. It’s very real, substantiated by the Floor Hog’s body language. From the door… to the floor …she avoids all eye contact, appearing almost catatonic, as she inveigles her way into your floor space, seemingly oblivious to your existence. Her eyes are glued on the instructor, and she quickly joins the exercise. But at the end of the set, her persona changes. She surveys the room, makes eye contact with me and smiles. It’s not a warm, loving smile but a snide one, that says, “won again.” I’m not going to take it anymore, I tell myself. The next time she pulls this on me I’m going to tell her to move her fat ass to some other space, where no one is standing.
Another annoying type is Motor Mouth. Lord only knows what conditions created this monster…
Maybe she lives alone and suffers from sound deprivation…or she simply loves to hear the sound of her own voice… but whatever the underlying pathology, why do I have to suffer? Ignoring her doesn’t help because she doesn’t need a respondent. Any upright body within hearing distance is enough to provoke her blather. I want to say, “Shut the hell up,” but I don’t because I was raised to be polite. We don’t offend. We let others offend us.
Today’s shirt reads: “Survived the Gulag.” Last week it was “Amazing Race Finalist” and yesterday -- “Last One Standing.” I was tempted to ask if she was the last one standing in Murphy’s Bar, but I didn’t because I was raised to be polite.
There is only one element missing from Pseudo-Jock's costume – a sweatband. But she doesn’t disappoint. She reaches into her (otherwise empty) gym bag and pulls out a florescent green sweatband, stretches it over her very short curly hair, and languorously covers her brow. She needs a sweatband like I need a hole in my head. This class isn’t called “Suddenly Senior” for nothing. We range in age from 60 to 80, and no one – not anyone – has ever been worked hard enough to drum up even a bead of sweat!
I want to suggest that this senescent wannabe -- twenty years past her prime -- drop our class and take "To the Death" instead, down the hall in Studio Z. That's where they work up a sweat, and that's where an occasional body is carried out on a stretcher. But I keep my thoughts to myself.
Another irritant is the Exercise Dyslexic. She’s the one who moves to the right when everyone else is moving left. The class steps forward…she moves backward, stepping on your feet. You try not to look at her because her contra-moves are disorientating. She should move to the back row where she can do less damage, but I don't say anything because I don’t want to hurt her feelings.
Newbies should also go to the back of the room; at least, until such a time when they’re familiar with the exercises. The first row should be restricted to people who know the routines and who, in a large class can be an example for those towards the back of the room, who may not be able to see the instructor.
You ever suffer the Perfume Shpritzers?
Personally, I’d rather stand next to a farter. The stink of a fart usually dissipates after a few minutes, while perfume stench hangs on for the entire class. Someone needs to tell the Shpritzer that she reeks and is giving us a headache, but no one does. We don't want to offend, no matter the offense.
And don’t think the instructors are beyond criticism. There are a number whose classes I’ve dropped because they waste time -- arriving late or waiting until class time to decide the exercise program for the day. Some raise the music volume so high I have to take out my hearing aids. Others music selections leave a lot to be desired -- funeral dirges and hip hop.
But the worst, the very worst sin an instructor can commit is to be PERKY. I don’t do “perky,” not at any time of the day or night! There is NO acceptable time to be subjected to high-pitched cutesy dribble; such as what the instructor had for dinner the night before…
…or what her precocious six year old child said at breakfast that morning. After five minutes of blather and no audience response, our chirpy cheerleader decides to change tactics: to query us rather than make statements.
“Who has a good recipe for Chicken a la King?” she asks. No one answers. “I heard a fascinating story on radio this morning about the Loch Ness Monster. Did anyone else hear it?” Still no answer so once again Perky changes her approach. Now she’s personalizes: “Carol, what are you planning to do after class today?”