“I prefer life in Latin America. However, some things are frustrating. Weightlifting culture isn’t as developed. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Muscle Beach, and Pumping Iron made it mainstream in America only a generation ago. It diffuses to other countries later.”
– Colin Post, Expat Chronicles
Favorite gym characters: Latin America
[Today’s post is a homage to the old “Favorite gym characters” series from the now defunct Bronan The Barbarian! If you never saw these posts in all their glory you can get a taste of what they were like here.]
Peru is an interesting place since there really aren’t any obese people. Coming from the Midwest I’m used to seeing mammoths lumbering down the street. Even in “big” cities, like Chicago or St. Louis, you see plenty of overweight slobs who put zero effort into their appearance.
While the streets of Latin America aren’t Model Mayhem, people generally take pride in how they look. You won’t catch girls in sweatpants and flip-flops, or guys in ratty old t-shirts. That stuff isn’t acceptable here.
Because of this, I was actually a little intimidated when I joined the gym. Silly as it might sound, I was worried that everyone there would be way bigger and more dedicated. Going from a tiny fitness center in Iowa to Gold’s Gym in a place bigger than New York City was a little unnerving.
In Iowa there are plenty dorks who workout by walking on a treadmill and humming along to the latest Pitbull song. They put on zero muscle every year and basically just exist to take up space and be annoying.
Crossing the border made me worry that I’d be one of those guys. Inconveniencing real lifters as they tried to do serious exercises.
Fortunately I was wrong.
A bigger gym meant more clowns. While there are obviously plenty of serious lifters, there are also quite a few dudes who have zero idea as to what they are doing. Instead of asking a trainer, or picking up a fitness book, they just do whatever they feel like doing. And it’s usually something stupid.
Here are my three favorite gym characters in Latin America:
Gym safety is for cowards. Quasimodo throws all form out the window so that he can… Really hurt his back?
This guy comes in on occasion and makes a bee-line for the Smith Machine. Once there he proceeds to jump up and down with the bar on his back. While my Spanish isn’t good enough to communicate with him, I suspect that he’s trying to perform some type of jump squat.
However, Quasimodo never actually does the squatting portion of the exercise. Instead he just slams the bar into his back for a few sets before staggering off in pain.
2. The human crab
In America ab exercises are all the rage. Guys spend their entire workout trying to develop a six-pack when they should be lifting weights.
Here biceps are a huge deal. The dumbbell area is always filled with dudes who stand around and do curls for hours on end.
As a result you see a lot of guys with massive arms, and legs that look like two bread sticks.
3. Grandpa Hot Pants
This rare treat can only be sighted on Sunday mornings. Grandpa Hot Pants is a 60 year-old male expat who wears a pair of super tight, and dangerously small, LYCRA shorts.
While he doesn’t really exercise, Grandpa Hot Pants has mastered the art of sitting down on whatever piece of equipment you were about to use and coating it with sweat. Cleaning off equipment is still a foreign concept here. This means that you’re almost always going to have to sit in a pool of LYCRA induced old man sweat. Hopefully you packed your soap.