03 Aug GYM ETIQUETTE 101
GYM ETIQUETTE 101
I was in the weight room the other day and a rather out-of-shape gentleman was parked on the lat machine. By “parked,” I mean that he did one (I repeat, ONE) set, and then sat there for what seemed like 30 minutes. The machine had become his personal office space. He couldn’t take his eyes off of his smart phone. From my vantage point, there appeared to be texting, e-mailing, and quite possibly the viewing of a couple of Youtube videos, all while he was plopped on MY machine. We’ve seen this guy. I think there’s one in every gym across America. (Where is Emily Post when you need her? The famous queen of etiquette would have had a field day with this fellow!)
Some gym etiquette is common sense, folks, and it pertains to every workout arena in the nation. Just as there are manners required at the dinner table, there are certain manners that should be followed when exercising in a social setting. If you work out in the comfort of your own home, then none of this applies to you. Go ahead and stink like a pig, leave your sweat everywhere, and wear whatever you want. Hell, work out butt-naked for all I care! But if you are exercising in the presence of others… well, you need to be a little more considerate of those sharing your space. For example, just as you should not come in reeking of B.O., you should also not smell like a French prostitute. Yes, take a shower and put on some deodorant (for God’s sake), but on the flip side, don’t bathe in Chanel #5.
Speaking of “stinky” behavior… don’t be that stalker guy (or girl) at the gym. Don’t ask for a phone number. Don’t stand there gawking. And certainly do NOT try to talk to someone when they are in the middle of a set in the weight room. It can be extremely dangerous! And, it’s just plain creepy! No matter what your exercise preference, don’t be the “creepy guy.”
Which brings me to the next point- make sure that your private parts remain… well, private. Nobody wants to see your junk hanging out while you “stretch” because you decided it was healthier to go “commando.” Um… Ew. And girls, check the sheerness of your exercise pants before you wear them to the gym. Nobody wants to know the color of your thong when your stretchy exercise shorts are s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d beyond their limits. If that means you need to bend over and touch your toes in the dressing room, then look back at your ass in the mirror before deciding to make that purchase, then do it! Like I said, some etiquette is just common sense, no matter what type of exercise you engage in.
Today I’m going to focus on my two forms of preferred exercise: weight lifting and yoga. It’s what I believe everyone over the age of 35 should be doing, and doing consistently. Although I have been known to occasionally take a cardio barre class, and I did run the LA Marathon (Ch-Check!), and I was a regular at a few pilates studios while recovering from double foot surgery (Ouch! …and Ouch!), the only exercise facilities in which you’ll consistently find me are the weight room and yoga studio. So, although I’m sure there is proper etiquette for spin classes, Zumba classes, and even running the stairs at your local high school, I’m going to narrow my focus today on proper etiquette for the weight room and yoga studio.
1. Don’t hog a weight machine. Especially if it’s busy and you know people are waiting. Everyone needs to rest between sets, but if you need more than 1-2 minutes of rest, you have to look around and see if anyone is waiting. If so, it’s perfectly fine to offer them the opportunity to “work in with you.” This way, as you rest, they do their set. Then they rest, and you do your set. This takes communication. Which brings me to the next point.
2. Do NOT use your cell phone in the weight room. The reason? People lose all track of time when they are on their phones. Your phones should be left in the locker room. The only exceptions to this rule (that I can think of) are mothers of newborn babies, parents with school-age children, or people caring for their ailing loved ones. But if you find yourself responding to texts and emails, using the above exceptions as merely an excuse to have your phone… you’re no longer the exception. You are rude. And selfies in a crowded public gym is just plain ridiculous. Do you really need to post on social media that you worked out that day?
3. Do NOT take off your shirt. This is for the men, of course. There are plenty of forms of exercise (spinning, yoga, and sex, to name a few) where it’s perfectly appropriate (or preferred) to be shirtless. But the weight room is NOT one of them. Nobody wants to see your hairy armpits stuck with white deodorant remnants, as you do your overhead shoulder presses. The exception to this rule, of course, would be for those very few people who actually train for body-building competitions. (Ironically, these men have no armpit hair) For these few, I understand the need to see every muscle that is being worked. I also understand the need to practice your poses in the mirror for hours. But in the average public gym, it seems a little narcissistic. That said, if it were entirely up to me (and I know I will get some flack for this one), “muscle tanks” would be banned from weight rooms nationwide. A fitted t-shirt is so much sexier. But that’s just ONE girl’s opinion. Here is why…the less of a shirt you have on, the more of a sweaty mess you leave all over the gym equipment. Which brings me to the next point.
5. If you listen to music while you lift (which I do), don’t turn the volume so loud that everyone within 5 feet can hear what’s on your iPod. This is not only rude, it doesn’t let anyone communicate with you. (It’s the same concept as using your phone.) Sometimes, people need to communicate in a weight room, like the question “How many more sets do you have?” (Which is what I ended up asking the out-of-shape guy glued to his iPhone while parked on the lat machine.)
6. Don’t do free-weight exercises, such as bicep curls, while standing in front of the weight rack. It blocks everyone from accessing the free-weights. Find a place outside of the heavy-traffic areas.
7. Clean up after yourself. Hello! We learned this in kindergarten. Don’t pick up free-weights if you’re not planning on returning them to the rack. Period. I don’t care where you may have found them in the gym; you know where they belong. If you use them, return them to their rightful place.
8. Last, but not least, wear proper gym attire. If you think this is a no-brainer, you are wrong. I have seen some crazy outfits in the gym. (Where are the Fashion Police when you need them?) In what world do jeans and flip-flops belong in the weight room? Not to mention see-through yoga pants and the “accidental” flashing of genitalia. Get a grip, people, and dress properly. Open-toed shoes in a weight room are downright dangerous! And I don’t care how good you think you look in your jeans, Ugg boots, and no shirt, if you wear that to the gym, you look like a fool. You need exercise pants or shorts, cross-trainers, a slim-fit shirt so you can see your form (A good sports bra for the ladies), a towel to dry off equipment after you’ve used it, and weight-lifting gloves if you don’t want callouses (which I don’t). Done.
1. Turn your cellphone completely off. You should not even have your phone on vibrate mode in a yoga studio. Yogis take this very seriously. You could f*@k up everyone’s meditation. And for some of us, all it takes is a random vibration from someone’s bag way across the studio to take us out of “the here and now” and bring us right back to thinking about our grocery list. Which brings me to the next piece of advice.
2. Leave your personal belongings outside of the yoga studio. Now, if you are carrying around wads of cash, your grandmother’s ashes because she never got to try yoga while she was alive, or it was a day that you (for some bizarre reason) had your social security card, passport, bank statements, AND the title to your car in your purse… Well, okay, then by all means bring your purse into class. Otherwise, there are usually plenty of cubbies by the front desk. Some studios even have cubbies inside the yoga rooms. What you absolutely should NOT do is pile your personal belongings along the wall of the studio or at the front of your mat.
3. Do not go into a meditative trance before class begins. In crowded classes, you are often required to adjust your mat to make room for others. If you are so “zoned out” that you are unaware of your surroundings, then you are obviously unaware of the hover-ers trying to squeeze into spaces around you. It’s the same concept of the person with his music too loud so that nobody can talk to them. Sometimes before a class, communication is necessary.
4. If you are someone who drips sweat during yoga (that would be me), bring a towel to wipe it up. Just like in the weight room, nobody wants to be wiping up your bodily fluids. They sell great absorbent traction towels that you can put right on top of your yoga mat. If this isn’t enough, bring an extra towel for any other spills.
5. During a crowded class, where you are nearly mat-to-mat with your neighbors, don’t try that crazy arm balance or headstand you’ve been working on. This could not only be dangerous to you, but to everyone around you. Save your works-in-progress for a less crowded class, or use the wall during inversions, if you haven’t quite mastered the move yet.
6. This next one may seem silly to some of you, but if you bring water to class, bring it in a reusable container. Unlike an ordinary weight room, you will be frowned upon if you show up to a yoga class with a disposable container. Yogis who live in the “here and now” are also very protective of the future of our planet. (And shouldn’t we all be? As a matter of fact, I recommend you bring a reusable container to all your workouts, no matter what the venue.) Moving on.
7. Guys, who are always looking for an excuse to do so… NOW you can take your shirts off. Hooray! Here’s why: men do not have the kinds of tight fitting shirts and sports bras that women usually wear to yoga. If a guy keeps on his LA Dodgers t-shirt, he will most likely find it wrapped around his neck and head like a scarf the first time he attempts a Downward Facing Dog Pose. If you are a little self-conscious without a shirt, invest in a quick-dry, tighter-fitting, yoga shirt. Chances are, however, you will still be fighting with it a bit. So, if you are fine with that, then leave your shirt on. Otherwise, now is your chance guys.
So there you have it. Gym Etiquette 101. Next time you go to the weight room or yoga studio, remember: what’s important is not just your “Mantra” or your “Reps,” it’s also your Manners and your Reputation. Be considerate.
Live Young, Darnell 🙂