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Gym Etiquette

The Do's and Don'ts of the Gym

By Erika PotapPublished 7 years ago 8 min read
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Ever feel like you have to dodge certain people while you're at the gym? Am I the only one who actually goes to the gym to workout these days? I can't tell you how many times I've gotten to the gym in beast mode, pre-workout mix in effect, with only one hour to spare before having to get back to the drudgery of my mundane life and just as I'm about to get on the treadmill someone taps me on the shoulder. Chatty Patty, the vegan waif I met in yoga flow a few weeks back...yep, the one who kept trying to talk to me throughout the entire duration of yoga class, completely oblivious to the fact that one — we're in a freaking YOGA CLASS, and two — not the best place to carry on a conversation. But who am I to say?

As soon as I turned around and saw her, I knew my workout just went out the window. She starts off by telling me about the three back-to-back classes she took earlier that day and what great timing it was that I happened to walk in just as she was just finishing up her two mile run on the treadmill. Great timing? I beg to differ on that one. Naturally, she just had to rush on over to say hello, stopping me just as I'm about to step onto the treadmill and start my run...if it were me, I probably would have just waved hello from afar and let the person start their workout without disturbing them, but again who am I to say? She goes on and on about this and that, telling me about her injuries and what her week is looking like... I'm just standing there like "kill me, please just kill me now."

Gym Etiquette Rule #1

Don't assume someone is done with their workout and free to chit chat. The gym is for working out not socializing. If you see someone you know at the gym, try to keep your interaction to a minimum, a simple head nod to say hello is more than enough. Especially if someone has just gotten to the gym and hasn't yet began their workout. Most people have a tight window of time they must be in and out by. Definitely no talking during a group class, even if the teacher doesn't notice, it's rude and disrespectful to speak during class, especially a yoga class!

As I'm sure you've already guessed, Chatty Patty babbled on about herself for a nice thirty minutes or so before I was able to get a word in edgewise and by then it was too late, I had about 30 mins left and I apologized for having to go even though the only thing I was really sorry about was running in to her in the first place. I get on the treadmill and start my run, sadly a friend of mine spots me on the treadmill and since she was running on empty decides to come talk to me while I'm running, because she really didn't feel like working out anyway! Now I'm stuck, like a prisoner chained to this treadmill and this conversation for the next 30 mins. Does she care that I have a hard time running without my motivational music? Not a chance! Can she tell I have a hard time talking while running? Please, she could barely tell if I was actually listening, she just wanted to pass the time so she could pretend she worked out and go home.

Gym Etiquette Rule #2

No cornering people on the machines, don't strike up a conversation with someone where they are forced to engage in only because they are trapped on the machine and can't get off until their allotted time is complete.

If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Chatty Patty let's hope it stays that way. Perhaps you came across her friend Betty. How many of you have met Sweaty Betty? The chick who was on the elliptical machine you were patiently waiting to get on next. It was almost your turn, just as soon as Sweaty Betty was done. Your heart skips a beat as you see her get off, either that or too much of your pre-workout energy drink, your not quite sure, but either way you can't wait to start and finish your hour of cardio as you stand there waiting for Betty to get back there and clean off her sweat. Clearly it was all over the machine and clearly it's proper etiquette to clean up after yourself, especially when bodily fluids are concerned.

Gym Etiquette Rule #3

Clean up after yourself. Whether it's your sweat that needs to be wiped off the machine or its the dumbbells you used that need to be put away, it's your job to make sure you're not a selfish slob and clean up after yourself. In regards to the machines, it's really simple, as soon as you're done with your workout, just grab a wet nap and wipe down all the places you've touched, the wet naps are antimicrobial and prevent the spread of germs so that people don't get sick and we can all continue using the gym as one big happy family, Sweaty Betty, Chatty Patty and all!

They say you can smell a rat a mile away. Well the same goes for a cat, if its a smelly cat and if there's one person I'm sure we've all had the pleasure of running into at the gym it's definitely Smelly Cat! Smelly Cat is that person who decides to work out on the machine directly beside you or even in front of you and had you been blind, it wouldn't matter, you would still feel their presence, and not because of your psychic capabilities, but because your nose fibers would slowly be hanging themselves one by one. I mean how could they not? Smelly Cat's stench was so bad, the smell forced its way into your nasal cavity grabbed those nose fibers by the throat and threatened their lives, withholding their only means of oxygen. You find yourself breathing with your mouth, your nose now in a coma from that horrid smell it was forced to endure. Every second gone by without vomiting is a miracle and you would think you burned twice the amount of calories, after all, it's hard work to run while trying not to breathe and simultaneously keep your vomit from coming up, but it doesn't burn any more calories than usual.

Gym Etiquette Rule #4

Wear deodorant and shower before working out. We all sweat and we all have natural body odors that we emit while sweating, that doesn't mean everyone at the gym needs to drown in it. That includes perfume, don't bath in your gardenia perfume and force everyone else to bathe in it with you while giving them a headache they did not sign up for just because they happen to walk past you giving your gardenias the chance to attack. No one cares how expensive your "cheap" expensive perfume costs nor do we care that your boyfriend thinks it's intoxicating — of course it's intoxicating, you have so much of it on, anyone within a 5 mile radius of you and your gardenia garden is bound to go from intoxicated to straight hungover without the buzz in between. If it's that expensive, maybe you should save it for special occasions like wherever the hell I don't have to smell it, like anywhere you want, just not at the gym.

Now that our nose fibers have recuperated from the previous strangulation ensued from Smelly Cat's body odor and or gardenia garden, let us proceed. If there's one person we have all come across while at the gym, it's definitely "In a Rush Rick." Here's the scenario, you just finished your cardio and being that it is a Wednesday, it just so happens it's your leg day so you decide to start off with some leg curls. You wanna get out of the gym as soon as possible, so you're pretty efficient with your time, doing, at most, four sets of 15 with thirty seconds of rest in between each set.

You're definitely not a Selfie Sam, that annoying guy who just sits there hogging the machine while simultaneously taking a thousand selfies for the sole purpose of updating his Instagram feed. But le'ts come back to him a bit later. You just finished your first set when "In a Rush Rick" steps right into your personal space bubble, (I mean he is so close to you that if he were any closer, he would be you) and forces you to stop as you're mid-way into your next set, turn off your music and acknowledge him standing there because...how bout he just scared the living shit out of you by appearing in front of your face that fast and from out of no where. He didn't mean to scare the living daylights out of you, he just wanted to know how many sets you had left. You're torn between telling him it's none of his fucking business or that it would have been two sets, had he not just interrupted, but now it's three sets, thanks to him. However, since you already know "In a rush Rick" quite well, you stick to "sure, you can work in your sets with me, no problem." That's always his follow up question to how many sets you have left. You start on your next set and can't help but wonder to yourself "damn if he's in such a fucking rush all the time why does he need to ask how many sets I have left, not like him working his sets in to mine have anything to do with how many I have left...just do wha ever you gotta do so you can be off to wherever the hell you're in a rush to be." You complete your set and politely get off the machine, wiping your seat as you get up. He takes your place at the machine, adds the necessary amount of weight to it and he takes off doing a million reps of a thousand sets with no breaks in between, so naturally it should only count as set 1, basically he just took over your leg day and made it his bitch, that was the only thing he seemed to be in a rush for now. If it normally took you 3 minutes to complete your leg curls it now was going to take you 30 min.

Gym Etiquette Rule #5

Be mindful of other people's time and don't hog the machines, remember the first thing we are taught as kids, sharing is caring! Either let the person finish their sets before interjecting your sets into theirs or be respectful of their time and keep your reps in tune with theirs so as not to disrupt their workout flow.

To some the gym is just a place of fitness, somewhere we have to frequent if we want to keep fit and look good. To others it's home away from home. It's our happy place. It's where many of us go when we feel down, need some clarity or have excess steam we need to burn off because we know we will always leave the gym a better person, mind, body, and soul. I would have said happier person, but that really depends on Chatty Patty, Sweaty Betty, and friends. The next time your gym experience is affected by a Selfish Susie or Bodybuilder Bob, send them a copy of this gym etiquette guide and say goodbye to bad gym days forever! Stay tuned for Gym Etiquette Part 2, which includes the do's and don'ts of group fitness classes.

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About the Creator

Erika Potap

I know a thing about a thing or two. Believe in the power of the universe. hope my words can somehow make you smile, even if only on the inside. Questions, thoughts or comments?

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