Unfortunately, many people have their creepy gym guy stories, this one is mine.
Before the days of my fitness YouTube channel, I outgrew my home gym and joined a larger gym change for their equipment. I’d been a member for 2 weeks at the new gym, it was upperbody day, and I had a variety of exercises lined up.
Using a straight bar on a cable machine, I began with a set of bicep curls. I’m normally very focused on workouts and purposefully try not to make eye contact with other gym goers. However, this night I noticed a very tall man doing pull ups right next to me. This wasn’t unusual at all. The new gym was much larger than my old gym, but it was far more crowded. Plus, it was the after work rush. At times it felt like we were working out right on top of each other. My attention to this man was brief, but he was noticeably tall. I imagined he could have simply reached up to grab the pull up bar. His eyes were sunken in slightly and had dark circles underneath. He was also very thin. I thought “he could’ve totally played basketball in college… or something.”
Laser focused on my workout and music, I completed two more sets of cable machine bicep curls then made my way through the crowd to the dumbbell rack for shoulder shrugs. To my left, I noticed the tall man again. He was so tall. I thought “he’s got to be 6’6” at least.” I refocused on my workout and continued performing shoulder shrugs in the mirror. I glanced over at tall guy’s reflection. He was struggling to perform bicep curls next to me while staring at my reflection. It was an awkward sight and when our eyes met in the mirror he quickly looked away. It’s important to mention that not only did my new gym come with great equipment, but also many men who disregarded gym etiquette. So it was not uncommon for my workouts to be interrupted by men with pick-up lines. All of this made me somewhat desensitized to male gym goer’s overt behavior. I chalked tall guy’s staring up to the usual shenanigans and finished my shoulder shrugs.
My gym’s layout was spacious and shaped like the letter C. The gym was two levels, with machines and strength training on the bottom level and cardio on the top level. My favorite cardio machine was the stair mill. That was one reason I joined the gym, it had tons of stair mills. When you entered the gym you could walk directly up a flight of stairs to the cardio level then make a sharp left turn toward the stair mill aisle. There, about five stair mill machines lined the back wall. The set up was great for privacy. My favorite stair mill was at the end of the aisle nestled in the corner. If I could, I always tried to snag it. I got lucky on this night and not only had I gotten my corner stair mill, but also the after work gym crowd started to clear out. I was alone in the stair mill aisle.
My headphones were on and my music was blaring. I drifted off into my mind. I opened my eyes to adjust the speed and in the corner of my left eye was tall guy again. He was seemingly texting on his phone and just casually leaning up against the wall. I thought nothing of it. After I adjusted the speed, I closed my eyes, and my mind drifted again. Upon reopening my eyes, I noticed that tall guy was closer to me and still texting on his phone. We made eye contact and he seemed nervous. I knew then that something was up. I turned off my headphones but continued to wear them. I began wondering if he was videotaping me. Then I mentally backpedaled and second guessed myself. I thought “you don’t know for sure that he’s videotaping you, he could be minding his own business and you’re just jumping to conclusions.”
I continued climbing stairs but remained aware of tall guy’s position. By this point, he was no longer pretending to text as he used his left hand to steady himself while sliding down the aisle with his back against the wall. He was videotaping me.
Now recall that I was on the corner stair mill. In order for me to leave the area, I would have to climb down the stair mill and slide by tall guy. The idea of that encounter scared me so I considered other options. There weren’t very many. So I made more eye contact, in a way that demonstrated that I knew what he was doing. He was unfazed and continued traversing down the wall in my direction. I was alone in the corner. I took my headphones off and put them around my neck, then pointed my iPhone camera in his direction. This only seemed to speed up his descent. Soon, tall guy was standing directly behind me in the corner. If I jumped down, we’d be on top of each other. That was my best option, but I panicked. I took pictures of him videoing me as he sat down legs crossed at the base of my stair mill. He was filming my butt. It was like he was in full filmmaker mode. Tall guy seemed much more manageable sitting on the floor than standing in all his 6’6’’ glory. I hopped off the stair mill, over him, and ran down to the front desk.
My heart was pounding and I yelled loudly to get a front desk attendant’s attention. One gym employee came over to see how he could assist. I began breathlessly telling him what had just occurred and frantically pointing towards the upstairs. Gym employee told me to calm down. I more calmly repeated what just happened to me, and he asked incredulously “how do you know he was filming you …people film here all the time?” I showed him pictures of tall guy seated legs crossed at the base of my stair mill. The gym employee responded, “he could be doing anything; you don’t know if he was filming you.”
Any sense of urgency went away and I found myself defending my own eyes to two male gym employees. Their assertions were ridiculous. Gym employee asked me if tall guy was indeed filming me, why hadn’t I confronted him, surely that meant I was lying. I replied, “yeah because I’m going to take on a 6’6’’guy by myself, who’s brazen enough to blatantly film me.” That statement must have been a stunned him back into reality because gym employee quickly asked me to point out tall guy. By that point, tall guy was gone. The gym employees told me they would look into the situation and I left feeling defeated.
I drove over to the Walmart in the next parking lot and angrily called my now ex-boyfriend. He was also angry upon hearing my story. He was fired up, and I was fired up. I went back to the gym and demanded to speak to a manager. The incident occurred not ten minutes prior and the assistant gym manager knew nothing about it. I had to retell my story for the third time that night but made sure to lament about his male gym employees’ attitude towards me. I was again told the situation would be handled and a report would be filed. I felt like no one was taking me seriously. I went home, told my girlfriends what happened and showed them the images. They were frightened and disgusted. My head was spinning. I emailed the gym chain’s corporate office with my story with pictures. Then my girlfriends, my boyfriend and I tweeted their official twitter account.
I returned to that gym in the morning to discuss the matter again, and the assistant gym manager said, “I told you I would handle it.” He went on to tell me that after we spoke the night before, tall guy returned. He was up on the cardio floor again filming another woman’s butt and her husband caught him. Her husband went to tell the front desk attendant and they immediately called the police. The police questioned tall guy and I’m told he was as strange as he appeared to be. The police asked him if they could see his phone and he declined. Apparently, without a warrant, they could not demand it. The only recourse was to file a police report and ban tall guy from the gym.
As annoyed as I was with how the gym handled my complaint, I felt relief at knowing he was at least banned and onlookers were forced to believe me. My relief was cut short when it dawned on me that tall guy would just go sign up at another gym to fulfill his sexual deviancy. Someone who had such little self-control could potentially have a record. Which would be valuable information to know, if any gym ever bothered doing background checks. My thoughts spiraled into a dark place. Every gym goer could be potentially vulnerable to the whims of tall guy, and many gyms now even have daycare rooms. Where would he go and who would he encounter next?
I never received any acknowledgment from that gym’s corporate office. However, the gym manager did attempt to contact me a couple times to apologize. I didn’t want or need it.
Do you all have any creepy gym guy stories? Tell me about it in the comments below.