Gym carnies: FOM

This is the first installment of (what I hope will become) an irregular series about the curious characters and intriguing individuals that people my local gym.

I am sure you know what I mean by gym carnies: those people who lurk around your gym as if they were stuck there and can't escape, but at the same time don't seem to really want to be anywhere else. These are the people who are pumping iron when you get there, and plugging away at the stairmaster when you leave. You assume they must have lives outside of the gym, but on the other hand, you've never seen them outside of the gym. They are usually on a first name basis with each other and the gym staff, and carry themselves with an air of "gymier-than-thou."

There is a particular gym carnie that seems to have taken a liking to me. Perhaps it's because he sees me run a lot and from the 1989 Long Island Marathon t-shirt he wears every other day I assume he used to be a runner--or ate a runner that was passing over his bridge and kept the t-shirt. I don't know this gym carnie's name, but let's call him FOM, or Farting Old Man for long.

FOM is a creature of habit. He is on the elliptical in the middle of the first row of machines every Tuesday and Thursday before 6am. After about 45 minutes of ellipting (ellipticizing? ellipticating? faux-running?) FOM then moves on to the treadmill, and much like with the elliptical, he has his favorite. The first treadmill in the second row of treadmills is his favorite. You know how babies love pacifiers? Such is the love FOM has for this particular treadmill. Every Tuesday and Thursday he places his towel on the right handle bar of the machine. He then plugs in his white headphones and tunes into the TV (always FOX News Channel). FOM then cranks the incline up to 15--so high that he must death-grip the TV in order to keep him from falling off--and proceeds to walk for what I assume is the rest of the day.

FOM is very intense while on the treadmill and nothing will interrupt his work out. If a song pops into his head while on the treadmill, he'll hum it. If his treadmill is making a funny sound, he won't change machines. And above all else, if--nay, when--when he has gas, he cannot leave the treadmill: gas must be passed on the treadmill. The more people are around FOM, the more this holds true. We're not talking loud, butt-trumpet farts. FOM's forte is the classic SBD (silent but deadly)--the type that sneak up on you and make you look around for the dead animal that just crawled into the room. These farts aren't just rank, they are offensive.

The other morning I arrived at the gym to find that most of the treadmills where taken except for the one next to FOM's favorite. Even though I knew FOM was a creature of habit I figured he would at least respect the universally accepted one-machine rule of separation. Anyways, FOM was still on the elliptical, so there would be plenty of time for the other treadmills to clear out.

Thirty minutes later FOM gets off the elliptical, which is fine because most of the three rows of treadmills have cleared out so he has his choice of machines, all of which he can watch FOX News on and incline to vertical.

But wait, he's passing the first row of treadmills. No.

He's turning down my empty aisle of treadmills, passing EIGHT perfectly usable machines. No way.

He steps onto the machine next to me. What the hell???

Yup, there were about 20 other treadmills that he could have used, all of them providing more than one-machine of separation, but FOM has to go with his regular machine right next to me. Aye Dios, porque? I hunker down, hoping for the best but anticipating the worst. And true to habit, about 15 minutes later he starts letting them rip. Sweet Jesus, what does this man eat? I start looking around wildly with a look of disgust, to show to anyone within smelling distance that I am not the perpetrator but I am looking for him/her. (Quick note: why do we always try to find who farted? What purpose does that serve?) I power through the rest of the run half-suffering from the noxious fumes, half-laughing because I knew it was coming.

I get off the treadmill and haul my ass over to the stretching area, which mercifully happens to be located on the opposite side of the gym. I go through all my stretches and go to walk out. Out of the corner of my eye I see FOM still plugging away at the treadmill, still at a 90 degree angle, but now he's talking to another gym carnie, COM (Cardio Old Man)...but he is another story, for another time.


Laura said...

You should totally take his machine someday and see what happens. Then blog about it so we can hear :)

Kevin said...

I was thinking the same thing laura. I am reading this thinking ok why didnt you just take his to see what he would do

The Laminator said...

OMG, dude that is a hilarious story! I'm surprised he didn't try to strike up a conversation with you, AND THEN decide to let one rip mid-sentence. I'm surprised you finished your run and didn't just pass out from the noxious fumes.

Marcy said...

LMAO I was thinking the same thing as Laura HAHAHAA. Dude you know you have to take it from him one of these days.

So the "one-machine rule of separation" is sort of like urinals, huh? You will have to teach me all the rules if I ever step foot in a gym (highly doubtful) LOL

Moon said...

Oh, man, I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series! FOM sounds like an absolute hoot (or perhaps I should say, TOOT?)

Nitmos said...

Tell me when you get to the bearded lady. THAT should be really funny.

Terrific post. This series is destined to be a classic.

Dean said...

Runners are notoriously profligate farters. It just seems so much more... acceptable outside.

- Dean

SJ Goody said...

This is hilarious. And, I am very happy that someone else acknowledges the "every other" rule. Whenever anyone hops on a machine next too me, I get way chlosterphobic. I need a my-running-space bubble around me.