Joe Whoops-a-Lazy

Cycle class at the gym (also called “spin”) goes very well as long as you’re careful with your setup before starting the wheels a-turnin’. Adjust the seat and handlebars until you’re “one with the cycle”. Remove the “cages” from the pedals if you wear cycle shoes. Secure your water bottle in the holder with the top open. Place your towel within easy swabbing distance. And bring an extra mask to replace the one you destroy when you rip it away from your face gasping for air.

I’ve been committed to weekly cycle for a long time now so my setup routine is darned near perfect. As it was this morning.  Everything in its place – time to get after it, Dave.  But then the classroom door flew open and in strode Joe Whoops-a-Lazy. And curse you Murphy’s law, Joe chose the cycle right next to mine.

You know Joe. He’s the boisterous bruiser who announces his presence just by lumbering across the room. He’s big and he’s bald, with too many tattoos and not enough clothing. He breathes in and out like a bull pre-stampede, even when all he’s doing is setting up his bike. He gives the rest of us a beady-eyed sneer to size up his competition (as if you can somehow be “competitive” on a stationary bike.)

Poor Joe. He’s not just Joe, he’s Joe Whoops-a-Lazy. Every time the cycle instructor gives a shout-out to see if we’re all still alive and kicking, Joe yells, “WHOOOOP!!!” or “AW YEAH!!!” or “LET’S DO THIS!!!”. To Joe, it’s an hour-long party on wheels!  Joe wants the rest of us to know he’s really into cycle. Personally I think he’s just really into our cycle instructor.

Here’s where it all goes wrong, Joe. If you gave it a millisecond of thought you’d realize none of the rest of us are going “WHOOOOP!!!” or “AW YEAH!!!” We don’t utter a word when the instructor shouts out her lusty, “How ya’ doin’ out there?”. Why? Because we… can’t… talk. We can’t even form a coherent thought.  For God’s sake, we can barely breathe.  We’re all about the non-verbals in those oxygen-deprived moments.  Head nodding.  Thumbs-up.  Not whooping it up like a cheerleader at a football game.

If Joe were giving cycle class his all, his last name might be Whoops-Amazing instead of Whoops-a-Lazy. Instead, he’s all about looking good and flirting with the instructor (as if a “WHOOOOP” melts her in her cycle shoes). Sorry Joe, if you have enough breath to cheerlead, you’re leaving something on the table.  In other words, you’re kinda lazy.

Here’s another betrayal of Joe’s he-man persona. While the rest of us push up an imaginary hill, our cycles cranked to all kinds of resistance, JW is standing on his pedals a head higher than the entire class. Joe thinks cycling as he stands makes him look uber-strong.  Er, he got that one backward. Anyone who cycles even a little knows you work harder in the seat than standing on the pedals.

Maybe you’ll be seated next to Joe Whoops-a-Lazy the next time you ride a rollercoaster. Joe’s the one with his hands held high in the sky as the coaster ascends the first incline, whooping and hollering before the death drops even begin. He’s more like Joe Whoops-a-Crazy, cackling down the hills and around the curves as his straining seat belt threatens ejection.

I’m fine with Rollercoaster Joe. I’m also fine with Sports Bar Joe, yelling at the game on the big-screen TV.  But I’m not fine with Golf Fan Joe going, “IN THE HOLE!!!” after a Tiger Woods putt.  And I’m not fine with Cycle Class Joe and his big ol’ “WHOOOOP!!!”.  Take that swagger back to the weight room, big guy.


I belong to a fitness club; one of those national brands where the facility is many floors and many rooms.  It’s so big you sometimes feel like you’ll get lost.

3 - consonance

For the most part I stick to the cardio area because I like the treadmills.  And here’s an interesting observation.  If you choose to work out towards the back of the room you are witness to more than a hundred other machines in front of you: treadmills, steppers, rowers, and cycles, all standing in neat rows and ready to use.  Late on a weekday afternoon when the place is at capacity we have the look and sound of a hive of bees hard at work, each with his or her own task.  We move in different ways and at different speeds, but it’s as if we are working in harmony towards a common goal.  We are in consonance.

Here’s another observation.  Watching others work out can be entertaining.  I am one of those who prefers to keep my eyes and ears open while I huff and puff.  I don’t wear ear buds nor do I bring an iPod.  I don’t get lost in the dozens of televisions (big screens on the wall or small screens on the machines).  Instead, I just observe those around me.  There is an endless variety of behaviors.  Last week I jogged next to a singer.  That was a first.  He was listening to something on his iPod and singing along without a care in the world.  Another day I noticed two women walking side-by-side on the treadmills, lost in conversation with each other.  They were practically turned toward each other as they talked, which made me wonder how they didn’t fall off and whether their mouths or their bodies were getting the better workout.

Invariably I see people staring straight ahead into their little televisions, headphones firmly in place, glazed look in their eyes, lost in some program or music video.  Like my singer friend, the room around them could be on fire and they probably wouldn’t notice.

Inevitably, someone will take a call on their cell phone during a workout.  I’ll give that person about thirty seconds before my body language starts to say “annoyed”.  Anything considered an emergency can be communicated in thirty seconds or less.  Anything that really is an emergency should have the person jumping off their machine and heading out the door.  But most cell phone talk in the gym is worthless, of course.  Do these people prolong their conversations just to make sure the listener knows they are at the gym?

Lastly there are those who simply overdo it.  You know the type.  The super-athlete who cranks up the treadmill so high his legs are a blur and he’s just short of flying off the belt.  The older guy whose breathing is so labored you wonder if he’s about to keel over.  The girl who dresses in bright colors, and you wonder if her slow, deliberate pace on the stair-climber is because she’s tired, or because she simply wants you to notice her.

It used to bother me if someone came to the gym and – like the examples above – showed some indication their workout was not necessarily their first priority.  Now I realize I’m just observing coping mechanisms.  There is a physical component and a mental component to working out, and yes there is sometimes even a social component.  Whatever the ingredients, the unintentional entertainment provided by my “coworkers” is enough to make my workouts faster and more enjoyable.  I thank them for that!