I posted a question on the Fitness Guru Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to know what you all thought were the most offensive breaches of gym etiquette. The answers came in fast and angry. And so below, I have compiled all those answers and, in a tidy bit of compulsion, created:
The 5 S's of Gym Etiquette
- Sights: When you're getting dressed to work out, ask yourself if the outfit is something you would be willing to wear in front of your grandmother. I am not suggesting prudish over-layering. But many of you said that your some of gymmates dress slightly inappropriately, with the majority find fault with running shorts that are, well, skimpy. Think twice as you put it on. Would Granny smile or slap you in your head?
- Sounds: First, cell phones should be left in the locker room unless you have a potentially dangerous situation that you are awaiting. Dangerous does not include updating your best friend about the craziness of your day while you are on the treadmill. Chatting with friends at the gym is fine, but be aware of the people around you. Speak to each other as you would in a quiet restaurant. Try not to yell across the room at each other. Grunting is to be expected when you are working with heavy weights, but there is no cause to turn that into yelling. Odds are you are not a Ukrainian power lifter. Keep it to a simple grunt. Scream-singing is one of my favorites and a staple of fitness classes like spinning. But no matter how much you love American Idol and how well you know the words to "It's Raining Men," look around you -- are you the only one singing? Be respectful of the class energy.
- Smells: First, the don'ts. Don't douse yourself in cologne or perfume before you work out. People's sense of smell is especially acute while exercising and bathing in Paco Raban can be a little nauseating. Flip side: just as nauseating is Body Odor. You're going to sweat and that means at some point, you are going to smell. Don't share that with your friends. Buy deodorant that you can leave in your gym bag or locker. Then use it. Please.
- Space: No matter how big the facility you are working out in, it is still finite and you still have to Share and Be Aware. If you are using a piece of equipment and someone is waiting, let them work in between your sets. It's not going to ruin your workout. It's all that cool stuff we learned in kindergarten coming back to help us! Also, if someone is working in front of a mirror, watching themselves so they can correct their form, don't stand in front of them. Someone did that to me the other day, and we were the only two people in huge facility. Not quite sure what he was thinking.
- Singles: Read this carefully. Read it twice if you have to. No matter what you think the energy is like, no matter how smooth you think the opening line is, they don't want to talk to you. They don't. They are there to have some focused time for themselves. They are not there to serve as dating fodder for your social life. You want to flirt? Try Internet dating. But leave the folks at the gym alone. Seriously.
The most important thing to remember is that your monthly membership fee does not suggest part ownership in the gym. It means that you have the opportunity to take part in a fitness community. Be respectful of that community. This goes for both sides of the coin. If you have issues with the behavior of a particular member, it is not your job to strap on your six-guns and solve the problem. Speak to management and have them deal with it. That's why they are there. If they can't seem to deal with it, it may be time to find a gym that has more respect for the community it is building. Just a thought.
If I missed one of your pet peeves, or you have any questions or answers, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rock on!
Michael Feigin, MS, CSCS, is the owner of The Fitness Guru, a DUMBO, Brooklyn-based health and fitness company. For the last 25 years, Michael has helped thousands of New Yorkers (and folks from other parts of the world) achieve their health and fitness dreams.