You might call me “The Newbie.” I first started really hitting the gym right before New Jersey closed and, accordingly, Jersey City shut down all its gyms. (They’ve since reopened.) Granted, I’ve been trying some virtual workouts, but there’s something tiresome about lifting watermelons on a backscratcher and climbing up and down my single flight of stairs until I’m too dizzy to even stand. If you think that sounds rough, try a night of Zoom Zumba with 17 sweaty strangers. Or waking up one day to realize that your best gym buddy is your aunt. It’s tempting to just call it a day and take out a book.
One of my favorites is “Weight Expectations” by M. E. Carter, and I’ve wondered how that speaks to my stance as “The Newbie.” One day when I was doing some bicep curls with two bags of rice, an idea started growing on me.
I spent some time reflecting on all the types of people I encountered at the gym. For better or worse, I went and assigned each one a moniker and imagined which popular novels they might feel closest to. The resemblance between these books and their fitness personalities can be occasionally startling.
“The Hunger Gains” by Suzanne Collins
Don’t let them near the dumbbells. You can spot the Cutthroat instantly by the way they’ve already spotted you. They’re out for the win in a place that isn’t playing any games. Deadlifts at 6 a.m. on a Saturday? The Cutthroat volunteers as tribute.
The Amateur Influencer:
“To All the Chips Ahoy!’s I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han
They may only have 600 followers, but they’re committed to making Instagram love them in the form of a blue checkmark. Whether they’re snapping a quick selfie before hitting the showers or hogging the power rack mirrors, you can guarantee they’re not worried about what you’re up to, at least. These self-named influencers are great for some romantic advice, too, but just make sure you don’t overshare because you never know where your secrets might end up.
The Brand Ambassador:
“Crazy Rich Endorphins” by Kevin Kwan
Their Gymshark outfit’s got enough names all over to be a book of its own. It’s amazing how they can make the entire ensemble sweat-resistant. You’ll want to stay connected with them, though, because rumor has it their dad was the guy who founded this gym in the first place. Heck, you may just fall in love with them altogether, and what could go wrong with romanticizing your way into this mega-rich family?
The Lone Wolf:
“The Catcher in the Whey” by J. D. Salinger
They’re the ones who only go for a run alone in the woods in the middle of the night because, honestly, exercising is just more peaceful without any phonies around. When they do stop by the gym, they’re mostly here to brood at the smoothie bar in a shadowy, back corner no one knew we had. In their spare time (these fitness personalities have plenty), they’re also reading “One Hundred Years of Low-Cal Food.”
The In-Your-Personal-Space Trainer:
“The Importance of Being Slimmest” by Oscar Wilde
You didn’t hire them. No one did. They’re not actually a professional trainer of any kind. They like to think they’re freelancing to build up some experience. You might have heard them say one time that every gym-goer needs an alternative persona, if they’re to make the most out of their workout. Some people with their fake identities, you know?
“The Reps of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
They take it to the max. You can rest when you’re dead, they say. Their morning routine allows for 300 pages of reading and zero minutes of self-reflection. They claim that for every mile their grandparents trekked through the woods to school, they’ll jog two. The Tryhard tells us there is no excuse not to grind 24/7 and asks you if you even know what it felt like to live during the Depression, and instead of answering, “Do you?” you say, “I do,” because you’ve had to listen to them all day.
“Whine and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
They’ve done marathons in cardio and complaining. Most of us come to the gym to let off some steam and… they certainly do, metaphorically. Don’t feel guilty if you need to remind these fitness personalities that no one’s imprisoning them here. They can utilize their free will to leave whenever they want. After enough time with them, though, you’ll start going mad wondering what you did to deserve their rants.
“Little Choirs Everywhere” by Celeste Ng
They’re really burning up the mats with song and dance and good intentions. We’ll tell you right now, your earbuds don’t stand a chance. The performer won’t listen to reason; they think they know what’s best. But we’re pretty sure no one’s supposed to be standing on the machines like that, and we wouldn’t want the gym going up in smoke over some lawsuit.
Have an idea for what other fitness personalities should be assigned a classic book title? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author/s
Tom Garback is currently pursuing a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College, where he is a Staff Writer, Blogger, Copy Editor, and Reader at various on-campus magazines. His fiction, poems, and essays have been featured in Thin Air, Blind Corner, Teen Ink, Oddball, The Magazine, Generic, Polaris, Gauge, and Sonder, among others.