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Gym etiquette 101

Written by: Cary Castagna, QMI Agency
Jan. 11, 2013

Longtime fitness buff Lori Pines thought she had seen it all when it came to inconsiderate behaviour in the gym. That is, until the day a guy jogging on the treadmill next to her started juggling.

“I couldn’t believe it — in a major New York gym! I thought one of the balls was going to come flying at my face,” the 46-year-old Manhattan lawyer and married mother of two tells Sun Media in a phone interview.

“He was trying to develop extra balance. That’s fine to do if you have a home gym. But I don’t think you can really do that if you’re that close to someone else.”

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Pines has seen more than her fair share of gym jerks during the 20-plus years she’s been working out in New York City health clubs.

Indeed, from cellphone chatterboxes and equipment hogs to perfume-drenched stinkers and locker-room slobs, some misguided gym-goers can be selfish, thoughtless and downright rude.

Fed up of fellow patrons acting like dumbbells and interrupting her workouts, Pines has written The Little Book of Gym Etiquette: A Handbook for Dealing with Annoying People at the Gym.

It was released this month to coincide with the annual influx of so-called January joiners, those well-meaning New Year's resolutionists who crowd the gym in earnest, only to migrate back to the couch sometime around Valentine’s Day.

In her book, Pines outlines the following six rules for exercising in public.

1. Don’t be a slob

Gym slobs, explains Pines, never wipe their sweat off equipment and “they leave stuff all over the place,” such as empty water bottles, towels, tissues and remnants of protein drinks and food.

“People bring weird-looking drinks that are green. Sometimes they’ll be eating yogurt. That gets all over the place. Or fruit,” Pines adds. “It is really weird that they eat, but they do.”

2. Don’t be a hog

Gym hogs take up residence on certain machines for so long that they should be charged rent.

“Or they’ll hang their stuff on a piece of equipment next to you and then you feel bad because you want to use that piece of equipment but you don’t want to lift their stuff off or bother them and ask them to move it,” Pines notes. “Or sometimes they’ll be resting on a piece of equipment they’re not even using.”

3. Don’t be a space invader

The treadmill juggler is in this classic category, named after the 1980s video game.

“People invade your space,” Pines says. “Sometimes trainers do that. They’re talking to someone next to you, so they’re standing right next to your machine and they’re in your space.”

This category includes meatheads whose Monica Seles-like grunts reverberate throughout the club, as well as the stinkers who come drenched in perfume or cologne, and/or haven’t bathed in days.

4. Don’t be a super-talker

Whether they’re gabbing with other patrons or on their cell phones, these chatty gym-goers just won’t shut up.

Pines lumps the iPod “singers” into this category.

“They have music on their ears and they don’t realize they’re singing out loud,” she says. And these wannabe rock stars are never in tune.

 

5. Don’t be a grouch

For whatever reason, some gym-goers are just plain grumpy. And they bring everyone else down with them.

“They’re unpleasant,” Pines notes.

6. Don’t be an exhibitionist

The exhibitionist treats the locker room like a mini-nudist camp.

“Some of that (nudity) you have to do, but I find it funny when they’re doing it excessively. It is a little weird,” Pines adds. “Or they sit down on the locker room bench, but they don’t put a towel down when they’re naked. It’s a little disgusting.”

 

Pines, a self-styled “eternal optimist,” is hopeful her book will have an impact on bad gym behaviour.

“Let’s face facts — it isn’t easy getting to the gym. You have to walk or drive there, change your clothes, psych yourself up for the pain and exertion, and then clean yourself up and change your clothes afterwards,” she writes. “The last thing we need is a further deterrent to getting to the gym. That’s why there is nothing more annoying than having to deal with people who don’t know how to behave there.”

Ever witness REALLY bad gym behaviour? E-mail your horror stories to Cary at cary.castagna@sunmedia.ca for a chance to win a copy of The Little Book of Gym Etiquette by Lori Pines.

 

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