Painful lesson for gym grunter

June 04, 2008|By KEVIN COWHERD

If you belong to a gym, you know that people do all sorts of annoying things during workouts.

They sweat all over the exercise equipment and don't bother to wipe it off.

They park themselves on a machine and yak for 20 minutes with friends, preventing others from using it.

They sing loudly - and badly - when listening to their iPods on treadmills and stair-steppers.

And they grunt and groan and shout things like "Yeah, baby!" to psych themselves and show everyone what a killer workout they're having.

Actually, grunting, groaning and shouting are suddenly hot topics of conversation at many gyms due to a recent story out of New York.

Maybe you heard about the dust-up that occurred between a grunter and an anti-grunter at an upscale gym on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

It happened in a spinning class, where a 49-year-old man named Stuart Sugarman, an executive in an investment firm, was pedaling furiously while grunting, groaning and shouting to get himself pumped.

The anti-grunter, a stockbroker named Christopher Carter, 45, was getting more and more steamed over Sugarman's antics.

Apparently, Carter asked the instructor to tell Sugarman to shut up.

But when that didn't work, Carter and Sugarman exchanged words, as they say.

Harsh words, according to eyewitnesses. Possibly with the upraised magic finger thrown in for full effect.

Then Carter went Chernobyl.

Grabbing the handlebars of Sugarman's bike, he lifted the front off the ground, causing Sugarman to tumble off and bang against a wall.

This took care of the grunting.

But as you can imagine, it wasn't the end of the story.

Because when Sugarman scraped himself off the floor, he called the police and accused Carter of assault.

According to the New York papers, Sugarman also contended that he suffered chronic neck and back pain as a result of Carter's Iron Man act and was hospitalized for two weeks.

Anyway, Carter's assault trial ended Monday. And the verdict was - ta-daa! - not guilty.

But this will shock you: Sugarman's lawyer said his client plans to file a lawsuit.

I know, I know ... who woulda thunk it?

But for those of us who belong to gyms and regularly deal with grunters, groaners and shouters, the verdict was practically cause for a parade.

Maybe we can all agree that Carter went a little too far in bench-pressing Sugarman's bike and sending him flying.

You talk about having a bad day - don't people go to the gym to relieve stress?

And if Carter gets this worked up in spinning class, you hate to see what he'd do if you cut him off in traffic.

On the other hand, who wouldn't want to rough up someone acting like a jerk at the gym? Especially after he was asked to keep the noise down and refused?

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with a lot of these grunters, groaners and shouters.

Much of the time, they don't really care what you think of all the noise they're making.

They think it's their God-given right to grunt, groan, shout, clang weights, etc. when they work out.

(Weight-clangers - that's a whole sub-species of gym jerks. You'd think they're in the World Powerlifting Championships the way they let the weights clang to the floor. Don't get me started on these people.)

The truth is, people make noise at the gym to draw attention to themselves.

Sure, maybe it helps them get pumped for a workout, too.

But the main thing is: They crave attention. They want people to notice them. They want people to think they're working hard, getting buff, ready to be on the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine.

In Sugarman's case, all that grunting and groaning and shouting ended with him getting dumped off his bike. His ego took a beating, never mind what he says it did to his neck and back.

Then a jury sided with his assailant, sending a message to loud gym jerks everywhere.

And something else happened, too: The gym canceled his membership, according to reports.

That's one way to handle these workout louts.

Probably the most civilized way, too.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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Read recent columns by Kevin Cowherd at baltimore sun.com/cowherd

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