A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 21, 2012
Gym Rat

A “gym rat” is a person who spends a large amount of time at a gym. ‘Gym rat” has been cited in print since at least 1963. The early citations of “gym rat” all describe a person devoted to playing basketball.

The definition of “gym rat” expanded in the 1990s to include non-basketball enthusiasts who visit gyms, such as people who visit health clubs.


Wiktionary: gym rat
Noun
gym rat
(plural gym rats)
1. (colloquial) A person who spends an unusually large amount of time at a gym.

Urban Dictionary
gym rat
One who spends entirely too much time partaking in muscle building, strength training, cardiovascular, or aerobic activity. Specifically, one who does so at a health club or gym.
Often used derrogatorily by people who do not partake in or understand this lifestyle, some self-proclaimed gym rats use the term as a status symbol or for positive reinforcement.
(...)
by Sabin Feb 4, 2005

Google Books
Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang: A-G
By Jonathan E. Lighter
New York, NY: Random House
1994
Pg. 1004:
gym rat n. an athletically inclined person who frequents a gymnasium, as for playing basketball informally.
1978 Wash. Post (Apr. 30) D1: He plays volleyball, softball, “gym-rat basketball,” and runs.
1987 60 Minutes (CBS-TV)(May 11): The new, approachable face of Notre Dame: President as gym rat.

4 June 1963, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Northwest Notes” by Don Fair, Sports, pg. 4, col. 1:
“He’s good because he loves to play. He never thinks about missing practice and enjoys it rain or shine.” In basketball, this type of athlete is affectionately dubbed a “gym rat.” THose who excel do not attain heights by ability alone.

9 February 1965, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Northwest Notes” by Don Fair, Sports, pg. 2, col. 2:
Ask a basketball coach to explain why some players excel at the sport, and one reason is sure to be, “He’s a gym rat.” The terminology isn’t particularly endearing, nor is it from Emily Post, but it is accurate.

Briefly, a “gym rat” is a boy who can’t get enough basketball. He’s always hanging around some gymnasium or backyard basket practicing his shooting or some other phase of the game. It’s this almost constant interest and effort which usually results in tomorrow’s star.

Sports Illustrated
February 24, 1969
Now He Gets To Shoot
An up-from-the-streets millionaire, Wes Pavalon once had to fight—and even steal—to survive. Part of the energy that made him the world’s richest schoolteacher is now being devoted to an NBA team, a plan to get Alcindor and big sport for Milwaukee

Pat Putnam
(...)
If football was Beetle’s game, basketball was Pavalon’s. “Wes was a gym rat,” says a good friend, Ed Kelly, who then was the athletic director at Green Briar Park, just across the street from the Pavalon flat. “He couldn’t shoot a basketball for nothing, but he sure was tough under the boards. Big and strong, and clumsy. He’d half kill anybody who got between him and the ball. And he was always dirty. Holes in his pants; holes in his shoes.”

Sports Illustrated
December 16, 1974
He’s The Lee That No One Knows
Big timber in Oregon, Ron has shot himself into obscurity on the road

Curry Kirkpatrick
(...)
With a metabolism in danger of running amok, Lee maintains a hyperactive pace. He requires only about three hours’ sleep. He is up at 4 a.m. to study, play cards, take a walk or go bowling at the all-night Emerald Valley Lanes in Eugene. His endurance as a television viewer—cartoons, old movies, Phyllis Diller, anything—is remarkable. He is reputed to engage in five-hour gym rat games prior to regular team practices.

Sports Illustrated
November 30, 1981
Wise In The Ways Of The Wizard
Three rushed in where Wooden used to tread—then split. Now comes the fourth, Larry Farmer, truest of true believers

Curry Kirkpatrick
(...)
Given the circumstances, it is a compelling attitude they have come to share: Impelman, 29, a gym rat who twice had to leave UCLA (for St. Mary’s in Texas and for Pepperdine) because there was no room at the inn; ...

Google Books
Drive:
The Story of My Life

By Larry Bird with Bob Ryan
New York, NY: Bantam Books
1990, ©1989
Pg. 47:
I was a real “gym rat.” I’d go home and eat, then come back to the gym and play some more. I mean, I practically lived in that gym.

Google Books
Chris Mullin, star forward
By Michael John Sullivan
Hillside, NJ: Enslow Publishers
1994
Pg. 22:
It wasn’t long before he got the reputation as a gym rat, someone who is constantly shooting a basketball all day and night.

OCLC WorldCat record
Master P, From Rapper to Gym Rat
Publisher: New York, etc., Newsweek, Inc., etc.]
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Newsweek. 133, no. 2, (1999): 57

OCLC WorldCat record
The gym rat
Author: Michael Boloker
Publisher: San Jose : Writer’s Club Press, ©2002.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English
Summary:
A college basketball coach is forced to deal with the aura of the N.C.A.A. tournament while his star player is accused of raping a coed.

OCLC WorldCat record
TIP SHEET - FITNESS: Never Too Old to Be a Gym Rat
Publisher: New York, etc., Newsweek, Inc., etc.]
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Newsweek. (July 15, 2002): 60
Database: ArticleFirst

fitsugar
10 SIGNS YOU’RE A GYM RAT
Updated Sep 14 2010 - 2:18pm · Posted Sep 13 2010 - 7:00am by FitSugar
The gym rat is arguably the greatest rat of all. She’s goal-oriented, strong, fast as a bullet, and knows the best order and time of day for working a room full of complicated machinery, pumping serious iron, and zapping calories. Has all your time sweating it out indoors turned you into a serious rat? Here are 10 signs you might be part gym rodent and a full on workout wonder.

OCLC WorldCat record
Fitness gear for New Year’s resolution keeper and gym rat alike
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: BUSINESS WEEK -NEW YORK- no. 4212, (January 17, 2011): 75
Database: British Library Serials

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityExercise/Running/Health Clubs • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 21, 2012 • Permalink