Gym Etiquette

Gyms are weird places. A bunch of animals get together and do something indoors that they could just as easily do outside. They sweat. They grunt. They dress up in ‘workout attire’ and take pictures of themselves as they stick out their butts and arms in front of mirrors. It’s really a strange, mystifying place

I use my apartment’s gym. I’ve been going every other day for about three years now. Needless to say I’ve seen my share of gym rats, personal trainers, sweat junkies, and machine hogs.

But no matter what happens or who’s there, it never ceases to amaze me how absolutely rude some people can be in the gym, in a space that me and the other thousand people that live here pay for. Rude how, you ask?

One of my favorites is the slamming down of weights or other materials. Our stereo has been broken in here for who knows how long, so it’s usually a pretty quiet place…that is, until someone comes in and wants to show off.

First, they’ll bust in the door already stretching. That’s my favorite. When they pull open the door and are swinging their arms too and fro like a monkey on a jungle gym. They mean business, and they want you to know it.

Next they’ll walk over to the bench press and study it for a minute, like they’re talking to it telepathically. They nod their head, grab the biggest weights possible, and slide down into position. After a few grunts, some moans, and some sharp breaths…BAM. They’ve shot that barbell out of position and are rocking  those two reps.

They lift and lift until their little hearts just can’t bear to any longer, and once again…

BAM. The bar returns home. But not without scaring he living daylights out of everyone within a five-mile radius first. What’s next? A solid rest of ten seconds or so and then some more reps? No way. They’ve got to check their Facebook first. Snap a couple pictures in the mirror to show their friends how much they can lift. Text their buddy to see how much he’s lifting. Then, after about five minutes or so, they’re back at it again. Two more lifts and the cycle resets.

If you can’t set the bar down gently, if you can’t keep from shattering records for he loudest noise ever produced, then maybe you shouldn’t be lifting that much.

Also, get off your phone. I know this is a crazy concept, but gyms are usually a shared space. Chances are that while you’re uploading that sick muscle shot to your Facebook so your buddy Brent can see how ripped you are, someone’s waiting to use that machine.

Workout. Go home.

Another point on the ‘shared space’ aspect: I love seeing how well people take care of gym equipment. They throw things around. They bang on machines. They destroy things with wreckless abandon. I see how people take care of things in public. I can only imagine how they treat their own property in the privacy of their home.

Dobt be an ass. This equipment is as much mine as it is yours. I pay for it. You pay for it. Everyone pays for it. Take care of it and treat it with respect.

And finally, when they’ve completed their four or five lifts, just enough to get a sweat going and leave a stain on the bench, they get up, snap one more pic (for Instagram, this time), and leave. Their sweat stain still fresh, dripping off the sides of the bench. In some places, it pools. It’s like a ghost of workouts past. Or is it a badge, perhaps? A sort of male dominance issue where the one who grunts the most and marks their turf wins?

Whatever it is, it’s disgusting!

I sweat a lot at the gym. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. There are days where I could wring out my shirt and get half a glass worth’s of sweat. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty gross.

So what do I do after I’m done? Go get one of the sanitizing wipes that are (sometimes) provided for us, and I wipe off my machine. It takes all of about 15 seconds to get over the whole thing. If ever we’re out of the wipes, I at least head to the bathroom and get some soapy water on a couple paper towels. It’s only right.

I just can’t get how people can leave the equipment that way…it’s super gross, guys. But not just guys. Girls, too. Your sweat is just as gross as ours. It’s not made of rainbows and smiley faces. Clean it off.

The gym, whether it’s in an apartment complex or a strip mall, is a shared space. Take care of the equipment. Treat the other people who are there with respect. And wipe your dirty sweat off of the machines when you’re done.

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