I’ve seen it all. Twenty plus years in the fitness industry and I’ve got a few stories to tell. From too much nakedness in the locker room and doing things with towels that are completely unnecessary, to talking on cell phones during class, leaving nasty sweat marks on equipment, hogging the cardio machines and locker room brawls over hair dryers and Q-tips. Seriously, I have seen ordinary people turn into extraordinary etiquette imbeciles once their foot hits the gym floor.
It’s time to tidy up your fitness faux pas a bit and make your mama proud again. Let’s get back to the basics of good old fashioned manners with a few friendly reminders.
Clean up after yourself
Whether you’re wiping your sweat off of the equipment to re-racking your weights after your set, being mindful of others who come after you is crucial when you are sharing workout space. Making messes is usually more fun than cleaning them up, so keep it tidy and clean as you go. You don’t want to sit in someone else’s sweat and they don’t want to sit in yours. Sliding across a bench shimmering in slippery sweat is sickening. That’s just gross. Keep your sweat to yourself.
I’m amazed at the number of people who leave their weights all over the floor after their workout, in spite of the posted signs reminding everyone this very simple rule of gym etiquette. If you can pick it up you can put it up. Just as you were told to put away your toys once you were finished playing with them, fast forward that rule 20-30 years and re-rack your weights when you’re done with your workout. Besides, who doesn’t appreciate a nice rack?
Which feller is the smeller?
We all sweat; some of us more than others. Gyms are full of sweaters and when someone’s personal hygiene becomes a public issue, we all have a problem. Going au natural, sans deodorant, is not the best idea when your pores begin to reek the equivalent of rancid onion.
I’m not suggesting that you try to overcompensate by dousing yourself in cologne to cover your body odor, that’s another gym etiquette faux pas in itself. Just be aware of your immediate scented surroundings and pack that trusty roll-on in your gym bag. No one else wants to “catch your drift”.
Get Your Fixation Off the Temptation
So you really think the hottie on the elliptical trainer isn’t aware you’ve been staring and heaving directly her way for 43 minutes? Guess what, buff dude working out next to her (aka her boyfriend) would like to have a word with you.
Yes, you will surely see good looking, healthy and fit people all over the place, but remember, it is a gym and should not be treated like a meat market. There is a time and a place for everything and the vast majority of gym goers are there to get their sweat on, have fun and socialize with their friends, and not dodge piercing stares from weirdos. A slight glance at a nice looking individual is usually ok, but don’t be a creeper.
It’s Not All About You
You can make your own kind of music and sing your own special song, but if you want to do your own workout then stay away from group fitness classes. I can tell you first hand there is nothing more annoying, distracting and disrespectful than having someone in class not paying attention to the instructor or the other participants around them. It’s as if they are oblivious to the fact that they are sharing space with 20 other people who show up with the understanding that everyone is there to work out together and be led by an instructor. If you want to be the leader, then learn to be an instructor. However, if you want to march to the beat of your own drum then do it Sheila E. style, “solo”.
Don’t Go Commando
I’ll be brief about this. Downward dogs in yoga classes, seated climbs in cycling class, crunches in front of mirrors; all these movements should compel you to wear your underwear when you participate in them. Shocker, I know. How do you get dressed to work out and forget your underwear? Are you running so late you can’t spare the extra 10 seconds it takes to put them on?
A gratuitous “peek a boo” can be completely distracting and at times just gross. Again, there’s a time and a place for everything. Peep shows belong in the red light districts, not in the gym. Panties and skivvies are not passé, so put yours on and don’t be “THAT guy or girl”.
Good manners and etiquette never go out of style and often help define us as individuals. So the next time you head to the gym, make sure to mind your P ’s and Q’s in between your reps and sets.