Monday, April 26, 2010

Gym Etiquette 101

Being someone who has been interested in physical fitness pretty much my entire adult life, I've almost always been a member of a gym or fitness center since I graduated from college at UCLA. People such as myself work out to keep their body in shape and also for how we tend to feel afterward. Working out and sweating helps make the brain release endorphins or "feel good" hormones.

Public fitness centers such as 24 Hour Fitness require their members to adhere to some basic rules of etiquette. Now what caused me to be inspired to discuss this topic? Well, it was the simple breaking of many of the basic rules of gym etiquette which I recently have seen occuring at my gym. Some of these will seem obvious, others you'll probably be surprised I have to even bring up.

1) Bring a Gym Towel
Yes, this is an obvious one, but you would be amazed by how many people actually don't bring a towel into the gym with them. It takes me about seven minutes from the time I start on the elliptical before I'm sweating. And believe me, I sweat A LOT! Be courteous to all of the other members by bringing a towel and wiping off the equipment you've just sweated all over!

2) Adhere to the "5 Minute Rule"
Have you ever been to the gym and you see one person spending 15 minutes or more on a piece of equipment? Yes, it's rude and it's selfish for someone to "machine hog!" In today's busy, fast-paced world, people often only have a short amount of time to get their workout in. Be courteous and limit your time to five minutes on any one piece of equipment, making sure you wipe it clean of your sweat when you're done.

3) Never INSIST on Working In with Someone
Has this ever happened to you? You jump on a piece of equipment and not five seconds later, you get asked by someone if they can work in with you. As someone with a very long, small-waisted, flexible body type, the settings I use are different than about 99% of the members. As a result, I'm typically going to spend 30 seconds or more making sure I've got the equipment set up correctly for me. Consequently, having someone work in can be more than a little of an inconvenience. A minute or two isn't long to wait. Be patient and you will get your turn.

4) Don't Abandon Your Piece of Equipment
You would be amazed at how often I run into this one. You want to work on a piece of equipment and someone's towel is just sitting on it. A minute goes by, two minutes, soon it's FIVE and the towel is STILL there! Or how about this one which I encountered this past week. I was just about to jump on a leg curl machine when out of nowhere this guy zooms in on me and says "I need to do my final set!" I was actually ON THE appartus when he rudely interrupted me. If you're going to step away from a piece of equipment for a minute, at least have the common courtesy to leave a towel or a water bottle on the piece of equipment so that others know it's in use. At the same time, don't leave the towel there for more than a minute unattended as really you're hogging the piece of equipment when you do so!!!

5) Don't Be Mean
A few weeks ago, I inhaled my water wrong while on the elliptical and as a result, I lightly coughed a few times. A woman three machines to the left of me asked me "are you ok?" To which I said, "I'm ok, I just inhaled some water wrong." A week later, the same thing happens to me again and a guy on the machine next to me on the right yells so that EVERYONE in the gym can hear him say "THAT WAS RUDE!" I wasn't sick and I didn't cough in his direction... I simply had some water go down the wrong pipe. Not being a confrontational person, I pretended to ignore him. Two minutes later, when a machine became available in the row in front of me, I bolted for it!

6) Trash Belongs in the TRASH CAN!
I'm not sure what is so difficult about this concept, but for whatever reason, it's a HUGE problem at my gym!!! Whenever I go to use the urinal in the men's restroom, invariably there are several pieces of gum sitting at the bottom of it! Yes, that's EXTREMELY gross! I really don't understand why you spit your gum there. It's just as easy to spit it into the trash can!

7) Wear GYM Appropriate Clothing

I've been going to my local 24 Hour Fitness center for about 2 1/2 years now, and there's this one woman who every day I see her is wearing a striped, blue and white collared shirt! Yes, she wears this SAME collared shirt every time I see her at the gym! I've also seen plenty of people work out in their blue jeans or other non gym appropriate clothing. Get a couple of pairs of sweats and t-shirts at the very least!

8) Watch Your Mouth

Light grunting is perfectly ok, swearing is not. You're in mixed company and have no idea what may offend someone. Using obscenities or God's name in vain in the gym is NEVER ok. Once again, practice common courtesy!

9) Re-rack Your Weights
Have you ever gone to use a piece of equipment only to see 200 pounds of weight left on it from the last person who used it? This very thing just happened to me last week. Nothing like having to spend an extra minute+ removing two 45's and two 10's to get the lateral arm extension down to the 90 pounds that I wanted on it. Once again, it's a courtesy thing.

10) NEVER Use TWO Machines at Once
You would be surprised how often I actually see this one at my gym. Typically, it's the men that do this. They will be on one piece of equipment, jump to another piece of equipment while leaving their towel or water there, and then come back to the original piece of equipment. Yes, they're effectively using two machines at the same time! If you're doing this type of workout, you really don't belong at a public gym.

The gym is meant to be a place where you have a positive experience both mentally and physically. Practicing the above 10 rules will assure that it's like this for you and the other faithful gym patrons!



Mity said...

these are good rules John. Number 4 however needs some re-wording.

The first part of it talks about leaving a towel to save your place. The last part says you should have at the least left a towel.

Just a little confusing...

John C said...

Thanks for your feedback, Mity!

I actually noticed the same thing and have amended my post to make it more clear what I was trying to get across.