Health-a-bet: G is for… Gym Etiquette

The new year means lots of new year’s resolutions, AKA crowded gyms. In light of the spike in gym memberships, here are some tips to not become that person that everyone wishes would leave.

Apparel

Comfort is more important than looking sexy. Wear stuff you can logically workout in. Don’t wear jeans. (Yes, I see this all the time) Cheap K-mart sweats work ten times better, and the buttons won’t catch on weight machines and tear the seat. Ladies, if you jiggle, it’s OK, if you’re popping out all over the place… get a new top or you’ll only feel self conscious.

I understand that you want to look nice when you go anywhere public, including the gym. For your own sake, don’t go spend an entire paycheck on nike.com. If you’re working out hard enough you’re going to look like hell by the end anyway. Make sure you have the basics (including a nice sports bra for all the ladies), but don’t overdo it or you won’t be able to afford that gym membership anyway. And, if you’re a rewards person, waiting to buy that new pair of yoga pants is more fun after you’ve put in a month straight without skipping any workouts!

Safety

For this, I’ll be brief. Pick up your damn weights!!!!!!! Not only does leaving out your weights make it hard for the next person to find them, but it’s not safe, and gyms don’t want to be liable for broken toes, broken arms, and missing teeth caused by people tripping over your mess.

Another area that many of us are simply not aware is the matter of indoor tracks (same rules apply to outdoor tracks).

guyism.com

guyism.com

First, look before you cross. It can seriously save your neck. Many tracks alternate the direction run, so pay attention to that too. If it’s not posted then go the direction everyone else goes (generally counterclockwise).

Here is the number one rule of the track: Fast people use the inside lanes, slow people use the outside. There is nothing wrong with walking laps until you get in the way of someone running fast, then there is a problem. Stay to the outside and you’re going to be just fine. Additionally, if someone yells “Track!” it means “I’m coming up behind you and I am not moving from my lane; therefore you have two options: move or die.”

Chatty Cathy’s

There is something to be said for strength in numbers. Having workout friends makes you less likely to skip workouts and more likely to enjoy it. Go ahead and let yourself have fun with your gym friends, but don’t be obnoxious. Despite what you and your posse may think, nobody cares how drunk you got last night, how ugly her boots are, or what a hottie your boss is. If you have a really juicy piece you’re dying to share, find a little corner to set up your yoga mats where you won’t bother anyone else. The hottie bosses wife will be especially grateful.

Also with the whole noise thing I’m going to bring up grunting. I get it guys, you need to grunt to lift heavy weights. Everyone knows that the force produced by grunting allows men only to boost testosterone and lift an average of 20kg more. But if everyone stops what they’re doing and stares, and subsequently a team of paramedics shows up you are probably being a little too loud.

Keeping it Clean

Most gyms have the spray bottles and rags all over the place for a reason. That being said, every gym has a different policy. Some gyms ask that you wipe down everything used after every use. Typically, these gyms have signs on the things they really want you to wipe down. Other gyms provide disinfectants for use before you use a machine just in case you’re a germ freak, but it’s optional to use them after use. “Green” Gyms that don’t want their stuff wasted ask that patrons wipe it down if sweating, but otherwise leave it for the potential germ freaks. If you don’t know where your gym stands, observe others, and when in doubt, wipe it down.

Also keep an eye on your footwear. Not everyone has a pair of “inside only” shoes, and most gyms to do not expect that you do. That being said, if it’s snowy, slushy, or muddy, try to bring clean shoes to workout in. Dirty shoes can really do some damage on indoor tracks, treadmills, and ellipticals not to mention that dirty floors just look gross.

Another note on cleanliness that seems pretty obvious is spitting. Just don’t do it, it’s disrespectful. And if you do, use a trash can, not a drinking fountain. Nothing makes your stomach churn like someone else’s loogie staring you down while you’re just trying to take a drink. Seriously.

General Respect

I’m not putting this at the bottom because it isn’t important, because it is. Gyms are crowded this time of year. If there are obviously not enough treadmills etc. to go around, get off after 30 minutes and switch machines or find another activity to do until the next person in line is done. If you wanted a 45 minute elliptical session and you realize you have to get off after 30, increase the resistance and pedal faster to burn more calories.

If someone is hogging the recumbent bike and you’ve noticed they’ve gone over their 30 minute time limit, it’s OK to politely ask them if they would mind giving you a turn. Oftentimes people will agree to that, they probably just got in the zone and didn’t notice the gym was so busy. Just don’t hover. If someone is nearing the end of their workout with a vulture in spandex breathing down their neck, said vulture is going to get some very dirty looks.

The same personal space bubble applies to stretching mats and physio balls. If someone is working out their core, don’t put your mat or your physio ball two inches next to them. These exercises often involve a large range of motion, which requires space. People like their space, and if you can smell what they had for lunch you are probably too close.

Finally, don’t stare at people in the gym. A lot of people have social physique anxiety and going to the gym is scary for them, don’t make it worse. It’s rude to stare anywhere, so don’t do it. Ladies, guys go to the gym to workout. It’s distracting and they are on a mission, don’t get in the way. Same goes for the guys. Women are not pieces of meat so regardless of how nice our booties look in spandex capris, don’t stare at us. Grunt until you feel macho enough to go talk to her.

Perhaps this post was a bit of a rant, but last time I was at the gym I really “felt the burn” and it wasn’t in my glutes.