Playing Nice at the Gym

water-630789__180I was working out in a small gym with several other people when one of them scolded me for leaving my water bottle on a treadmill. We were doing circuits—alternating 10 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes on the floor for strength training. What had I done wrong? It seemed a good time to study up on gym etiquette.

My gym gurus—trainers and other physical fitness professionals who work out regularly—said that the bad manners that annoy them most at the gym arise from people creating distractions.

If you seriously strive to maintain and improve your health, muscle strength and stamina, you may consider interruptions rude. It’s good to to be left undisturbed in your own zone!

Here are a few suggestions about being kind, considerate, and respectful at the gym:

Avoid Being a Distraction: Respect others’ concentration on their workout

  • Visual
    • Folks who “dress up” for the gym and wander around looking for flirting opportunities.
    • Revealing clothing on either sex.
    • Dirty clothes.
  • Sound
    • Carrying on conversations next to a person working out.
    • Chatting on a mobile phone anywhere in the gym.
    • Playing music from a source that others can hear—and no sing-alongs!
    • Loud grunting—sometimes it happens, but it shouldn’t be a constant workout accompaniment.
    • Clanging equipment that startles people and throws them off. Weights falling on the floor can be loud and jarring, so don’t lift more than you can put back down safely (and quietly).
    • Talking to someone wearing headphones who is obviously not seeking conversation.
  • Odor
    • Those who do not use deodorant.
    • Clothes smelling of cigars and cigarettes.
    • Perfume, which can cause allergic reactions in some.

Kindergarten Rules: Kindness, consideration and respect at the gym

  • Respect everyone’s space.

    • Crowding folks is intrusive. Collisions can be dangerous, so keep an eye out for those nearby. It’s rude to wander into the outside track lane inkettle-bell-592905__180front of a fast runner or to come between a mirror and the person using it.
    • Leaving weights, bags, water bottles, or anything else on the floor may cause someone to trip over them.
    • Hovering over a person on a machine is intrusive and can interrupt a workout.
  • Contain the germs
    • Wipe down machines with a towel.
    • Use disinfectant spray if necessary because MRSA and staph infections are real possibilities, not to mention the common cold germs lingering everywhere hands touch the machine.
  • Play nice: take turns, share equipment
  • Make sure everything is in its designated place
    • Clean up and pick up after yourself.
    • Especially remember to put weights back in their proper racks.
  • Does your gym post The Rules? Yes? Read them.cycling-79618__180

And finally, why was it rude of me to abandon my water bottle? Answer: There is no such thing as dibs at the gym, and leaving your towel or water bottle on a machine looks like you are “saving” it for your future use (even if, honestly, you just forgot to take that bottle along with you).

(Thanks to the pros at Revolution in Glen Ellyn for their informed input!)


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