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16 Ways to Determine If Your Gym Is Hardcore
by Justin Leonard
Written on December 25, 2003

The following list will help to determine if you currently workout in a hardcore gym or health club/fitness center.


#16 - at least 60% of the gym members bring gallon jugs of water to drink while working out.

And what's funny about this one is that the jugs are only about a third full. I've seen several gallon jugs, but I've never seen someone finish a full one during the course of a workout.

#15 - there's chalk on all of the equipment (including machine weights).

Hardcore gyms don't care about being clean while you workout. You're in there to sweat and look ugly.

#14 - there are no disinfectant wipes or spray bottles in the workout area.

Hardcore gyms may not have sanitary stations posted throughout the gym. Instead, you're encouraged to bring your own towel or check one out at the counter when you enter the gym.

#13 - in the main area of the gym, it's perfectly acceptable to pose in front of the mirror with your shirt off or pants down.

Health clubs are really modest, and the general population doesn't understand the bodybuilding community. If someone begins to pose in front of the mirror and people [who actually care] begin to gather around in awe... you definitely workout in a hardcore gym.

#12 - there are less than five cardiovascular machines.

This is true especially for old school gyms. If the gym you train at has less than five cardiovascular machines, it might be hardcore.

#11 - there is a deadlifting platform in the gym.

They protrude from the ground and are usually made out of wood and covered with carpet. They are topped with a rubber coating and are always infested with chalk. Usually, only someone interested in Olympic style powerlifting or hardcore bodybuilding will use this area of the gym. Most health clubs wouldn't want a deadlifting platform in their gym because 1) no one would ever use it, and 2) anyone who uses it seriously will usually require chalk for gripping and control purposes, which could ultimately migrate onto other machines.

#10 - there are digitally signed 8 x 10 photo reprints and full-sized posters of bodybuilders posted throughout the gym.

Generally speaking, commercial health clubs don't want their guests to get the wrong impression when they walk into their gyms. On the other hand, athletes who have either visited the gym or have achieved athletic success at the gym are encouraged to submit a photo to grace the halls and walls of the gym.

#9 - the bathrooms have no showers.

The concept is simple: Come in, do what you have to do, and get out!

#8 - it's perfectly normal to yell or grunt aloud while working out.

You can't really do this at a "health club" or "fitness center" without everyone staring at you. Most people just don't see the need to yell. The health club/fitness center mentality is, "If you have to make all that noise, then the weight is too heavy." The hardcore gym mentality is, "If you're not making noise, you're not pushing yourself hard enough."

#7 - the area around the customer service desk is encrusted with trophies from gym members.

Health clubs usually don't want to create an elite athlete gym atmosphere. Whereas hardcore gyms take pride in knowing that their gym is home to the nation's/world's top athletes.

#6 - the gym temperature feels like it's 90 degrees with the A/C on.

I never understood this one. I suppose the hotter it is, the tougher you become. Fitness centers and health clubs always maintain ideal workout temperatures.

#5 - the gym doesn't offer personal training services.

I guess the mentality at a hardcore gym is, "Why hire a personal trainer when you can recruit a hardcore training partner?" Or, "Personal trainers are for those who don't know what they are doing." No one is too good for a personal trainer. All elite athletes (e.g. Olympic) have them.

#4 - there is no aerobics room.

Many hardcore gyms don't have aerobics rooms. If they do, it's used for bodybuilding posing practice more than it is for aerobics.

#3 - there is a dedicated "neck" machine.

You'll rarely see a dedicated neck machine in a health club.

#2 - the water comes out of the water fountain at room temperature.

I never quite understood why this was... and what makes it even worse is that when water is dispensed at room temperature, it tastes salty for some reason.

#1 - the weights are always left on the machines and never put back on the racks, even though there's a big sign that says, "PLEASE RETURN WEIGHTS TO RACK!"

This is considered unacceptable by health club and fitness center standards. But it's commonplace at many hardcore gyms.

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