Elliptical wars

Ever since I joined my gym in 1998 the elliptical trainer has been my choice for cardio exercise. In those days, there was a long row of these machines in the back of a room also lined with stair climbers and treadmills. They were plentiful enough so I usually didn’t have to wait in line to grab one, though then the club gave us a 30-minute exercise time limit if people were waiting.

Fast forward nineteen years. Only two of those old, rusty, decrepit ellipticals are left; the others have been replaced by newer versions.

However, there is a group of people like me who prefer working out on the old equipment, and a few of us prefer one over the other. I always prefer the one on the left because it goes faster.

Here’s my competition:

Two women who can’t wait. When they are ready to use the elliptical they come over and ask how long a time I have left. I hate that. I’m always in the middle of a The New Yorker article I’m reading and their question interrupts me. And if only one of the machines is available one of the women will take it and the other will run on the treadmill next to it – so they can talk. Rather, they yell. One guy got so angry at their shouting one day he told them off and walked over to another exercise area. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him for a while. Maybe he quit this gym because it couldn’t or wouldn’t control its members.

The guy with the backward hat and big round headphones over his ears. And he always wears long sweats and a sleeveless tank. I don’t blame him for wanting to show himself off. He must have lost 100 pounds in the last year or so and looks good. But, I do blame him for using one of the ellipticals – the one I prefer – for 90 to 120 minutes at a time. When I see him there I know there is no way for me to get a turn during my workout time. So, I take one of the new machines.

The saver. If one of the other women sees an available old elliptical, she puts her stuff on it to save it for herself while she goes off to do other things until she’s ready to use the machine.

A few others: A big guy who either watches something on his phone or talks on his phone while working out. I never tell him to look at the sign on the wall in front of him that says not to use cell phones at the gym. But, I did tell him to lower his voice one time and he did so immediately. He also got off his elliptical quickly after that. Two other guys are also worth mentioning. They get to the gym early, grab the two old machines and talk up a storm, loudly. I’m glad they aren’t there every day.

Bottom line:

I don’t rudely interrupt others while they are working out. I don’t save it for myself when I see an empty machine. I only use it for 45 to 50 minutes at a time. And I don’t converse loudly with a friend or on the phone and disturbing others.

Instead, I get on another elliptical – sometimes in the same room with the old ones if I think someone will be off soon. Otherwise, I use the equipment in another room where I can’t keep watch over my favorite machine. Either way I get a good work out. In my own space. In peace and quiet. That’s what I’m there for.


  1. Great examples of annoying gym people. You should post this in your gym.

  2. There are annoying people in my gym class who always rush in as soon as the door opens to save the best spots. One woman in particular comes to mind but I have concluded she is OCD. She would have a meltdown if someone dared take her spot so no one ever tries. It’s annoying for sure. Great piece.

    • Yes, I know that type too. One of the reasons I stopped taking group exercise except Pilates. At least in Pilates every spot has the same visibility and advantage.
      Thanks for your comments. I was wondering if this article would be too out there, but since I didn’t name names, I guess it’s okay.
      Happy New Year.

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