How to Deal With Every Annoying Person at the Gym

The grunter. The hoarder. The trainer who isn’t actually a trainer. A fitness coach provides tips on dealing with every type of gym-goer.


The gym is filled with all kinds of characters who inhabit various points on the annoyance spectrum. Below, you’ll find every bothersome person you’re bound to run into at the gym, along with tips on how to deal with them provided by Jonathan Jordan, group instructor at Equinox Fitness.

The Grunter
Why They’re Annoying: This person can be heard from every single corner of the gym, whether they’re releasing a barbaric yawp with each lift or dropping their 500-pound weight to the floor with a biblical thunderclap. Even when the grunter isn’t lifting, they’re making just as much noise by breathing heavily to prove to everyone they’re working the hardest.
How to Deal With Them: “Generally speaking, grunters are wearing some kind of noise-cancelling headphones — because of that, they’re not aware of how loud they’re actually being,” Jordan explains. “In these instance, I simply ask the gym manager to approach that person — either one-on-one or via email — since they have tools for handling those situations diplomatically.”

The Socialite
Why They’re Annoying: This person spends more time talking on the phone than actually working out — though, they have no problem sitting on the equipment while typing up a 1,000-word email. They also just so happen to receive an important phone call right before they have a chance to wipe their sweat off of the machines.
How to Deal With Them: “Tap them on the shoulder and ask if you can work in a set while they’re checking their email or talking on the phone,” Jordan suggests. “Usually, that’s all they need to realize just how long they’ve been on their phone (and sitting on that piece of equipment).”

The Hoarder
Why They’re Annoying: This person makes a point to only use the gym during peak hours. Worse yet: The hoarder also makes a point to incorporate every single piece of equipment in the gym — especially whatever you want to use — into their workout.
How to Deal With Them: “No one is actually able to use everything at once,” Jordan explains. “My clients simply go ahead and grab whatever the hoarder isn’t using for an extended period of time. If the person says anything, just explain to them that they haven’t been using that piece of equipment for a while and that you’ll be done with it in five minutes.”

The Coach (but Not Really)
Why They’re Annoying: This person isn’t a certified personal trainer, but they’ve spent enough time browsing online fitness forums to believe they are. As a result, they spend all their time in the gym handing out (often bad) advice to other gym-goers. They probably also wear a whistle around their neck even when they’re not at the gym.
How to Deal With Them: “It’s important that you don’t tweak your form or change your workout just to placate someone, because you could end up hurting yourself,” Jordan emphasizes. “So the best thing to do here is say, ‘Thanks, but I’m good.’ Simply shut them down.”

The Talker
Why They’re Annoying: This person chats you up throughout your workout, no matter how many times you make it clear to them you’re not interested. They know every single gym member by name — and they make damn sure everyone knows their name, too.
How to Deal With Them: Cough loudly, and tell them you’re coming down with a cold or the flu,” Jordan suggests. Hey, whatever works, right?

The Lurker
Why They’re Annoying: This person never speaks to you, but they’re always either waiting for you to finish using a piece of equipment or using the machine right next to yours. You frequently catch them eyeing you in the mirror, but they quickly look away every time you make eye contact.
How to Deal With Them: “This person might simply be interested in your physique, in which case, you could take their lurking as a form of flattery,” Jordan says. “If that is indeed the case, smiling at them might help you make a new friend — unless, of course, what they’re doing is creepy.” If so, we recommend notifying the gym management.