My friend Brendan recently wrote a great blog about how to make the people trapped with you on a ski-lift feel uncomfortable. I haven’t skied in a while, but I could sympathize, maybe because I’ve been around a fair number of people in the gym who’ve created a cringe-worthy dynamic. If you want to be one of those people, whether for fun or for serious, here are 12 tips for making things in the climbing gym uncomfortable. (Add your own tips in the comments!):
1. Play the shadowing game
Pick someone and follow them around the gym climbing all the same routes or problems. Hop on the second they finish. Never say anything to the climber you’re shadowing, but eye contact is OK. Make sure to put your stuff down near the climber so he or she can see you at all times. Beware, shadowing a member of the opposite sex can easily be construed as a form of stalking (which it kind of is).
Bonus points: Shadow your subject’s non-climbing movements as well. OK, we’re drinking water now… now were putting on our shoes… time to chalk up!
2. Fart while climbing
In his blog, Brendan mentioned passing gas on the chairlift, which is great because you have a captive audience. While we’re typically not in such close quarters in the gym, letting a ripper slip while making a dynamic move can be a great way to put everyone within earshot in a funny position. Do they laugh or hold their tongues? Key here is frequency: the more air biscuits you free from the oven, the better. Meanwhile, you must never acknowledge the sounding of your butt trumpet under any circumstances.
Bonus points: After a particularly loud peal of brown thunder, sprint directly to the bathroom.
3. Give creepy beta
Stand as close as possible to the climber and in an aggressive whisper say things like, “Yeeeeaaah buddy… you got this man, you so got this. Oooooh yeah, that next hold looks sweeeeet… you’re gonna get it… you’re gonna stick that hold soon goooooooood… .”
Bonus points: Give creepy beta while offering a touchy feely spot on the bouldering wall, or even while climbing on a route directly adjacent.
4. Climb with your shirt off
For the sake of your fellow patrons and all that is decent, many gyms have asked respectfully that you climb fully clothed. To make things awkward, remove your shirt and stand conspicuously next to any signage asking you to please not remove your shirt. Then get yourself all sweaty through climbing, deep knee bends, burpies, etc., and lay down on the mats, making big “sweat angels.”
Bonus points: “Accidentally” bump up against other climbers with your bare, clammy back skin.
5. Clip your nails
Keeping your nails in check is important in climbing, but we all know it’s also totes gross to watch those funky little slivers come flying off of a stranger’s toes. That’s why you should sit yourself down in the middle of the floor where everybody is climbing and start snipping away. Being sure to leave your trimmings scattered about like so many crescent moons. Ignore the incredulous stares.
Bonus points: Bring a full mani-pedi kit, including files, pumice stone, and cuticle trimmer, and go to town.
6. Give hugs
Whenever someone sends a route or shows any kind of excitement about their performance on the wall, run over and give them a big hug. Combine this with tip No. 4 for maximum effect.
Bonus points: Ask them if they want to go get milk and cookies after, to celebrate.
7. Fight with your significant other
Nothing puts people on edge faster than a PDRT (public display of relationship turmoil). Whatever frustrations you have with the person you’re currently snogging, be sure to air them in a room full of strangers. Don’t like the way your S.O. belays? Or the fact that he or she would rather say “Take!” than take a fall? Or maybe you just import your random disagreements from home (uncapped toothpaste tubes, unwillingness to do the dishes, etc.) to the rock wall and have it out mid-climb.
Bonus points: Bring your kids with you to the gym and give them a hard time when they get scared and want to come down from the wall, telling them to “tough it out” even though they are clutching at the brontosaurus-shaped holds and sobbing / blowing snot bubbles.
Whether on the wall or in the workout area, emitting loud, nonsensical noises during moments of high effort is a sure way to create an uncomfortable feeling amongst fellow gym goers. The louder and stranger your vocalizations the better. (See: Will Ferrel’s performance in this satirical cold medicine ad for examples.)
Bonus points: Get a group of friends to go in on this one with you, turning the gym into a jungle-like space of bird screeches and monkey calls.
9. Feedbag it
Instead of chalk, fill your chalk bag with tasty treats like peanuts, sesame sticks, or chocolate chips. Conspicuously eat these while standing around and while climbing, both. When anyone looks at you, proclaim, “Gotta keep my energy up!”
Bonus points: Offer a snack from your sack of goodies to every person that comes within 15 feet.
10. Be the Minister of Hygiene
Remind everyone that a recent study revealed the presence of a “fecal veneer” on climbing holds from commercial gyms. Urge them not to eat or prepare food, or touch their face or mouth, until after they’ve washed their hands. To help address this problem at its root, stand in the restroom and call out every person who exits a stall without making a stop at the sinks.
Bonus points: Tote a large bottle of alcohol-based hand-sanitizer gel and wander around offering people “a squirt for hygiene.”
11. Compare anatomy
What’s your “ape index”? How big are your hands? Whose forearms or shoulder muscles are bigger? These questions and others like them are a great way to catch a stranger off his or her guard. Simply walk up to two or more people and identify one of them to compare body parts with. Ask the other one to be a judge. Often, this will involve physical contact of some sort. Comparing wingspans, for examples, requires two people standing back-to-back and stretching their arms as wide as possible.
Bonus points: Talk people into having pull-up, push-up, sit-up, or breath-holding contests.
12. Tickle spot!
While spotting a person on a boulder problem, tickle them.
Bonus points: Run away when they try to punch you.