On “Favorite” Machines and “My” Spot

Last night, as I made my way up to the cardio floor of my gym – Tuesday is running day – I found myself hoping it wouldn’t be a battle to get a “good” treadmill (one of the ones with the little fans built into them, hopefully with a working tv). I was in luck – my favorite treadmill at the end of the aisle was open. Or so I thought.

Just as I had settled in and was about to put my earphones in, one of the personal trainers walked over to the side of the machine. “Do you mind if we use this one? We’re working on a circuit.” In my mind: “Yes, I mind, there are at least a dozen other machines open.” Out of my mouth (along with a pained look and an eye sweep around the floor), “Uh … I guess so.” He clearly read my face, because he followed up with “This is your favorite, isn’t it?” “Yes,” I replied, pointing to the fan/vent combo directly above the machine, “that’s why.” Since I like to keep the peace, and I know there have been times my former trainers have booted someone off of something so we could use it, I moved halfway down the aisle. It was about two down from a fan, one down from a vent, and ESPN came in kinda fuzzy. But I sucked it up and did my 6.5 miles.

It got me thinking about how territorial we become about our “favorite” machines or “spots” in a class. I can tell you right now what all of mine are (as far as cardio is concerned, it’s the aforementioned end treadmill with the fan/vent combo, the end Precor elliptical in front of the window with the vent facing directly downward, and anything on the end of an aisle if I can help it; before I started teaching, in a cardio class, it was always the front row, to the left of the instructor, or in a Pilates or yoga class, front row, on the end – in fact, despite almost never having time to take classes outside of my own, I found myself in my same “regular” spot when I took a couple Piloxing classes when I was at home during the week of Christmas). And I know I’m not alone on it – in fact, I’ve gone as far as calling out regulars in my classes when they’re in a different place than their “normal” spot.

It’s funny to think about, though, because especially as far as classes are concerned, people get upset when someone (usually a person new to the class) takes “their” spot. I hate to admit it, but I definitely remember times in the past where I spent a class scowling at a person in “my” spot – once or twice maybe even getting a little too close (hey, if I accidently hit them, it’s their fault for taking my spot!) But really … how is a person supposed to know? It’s not like you can put a “reserved” sign in the middle of the floor – though I guess this is why people rush to a Spinning class and put down towels, then disappear for 20 minutes (in fact, my gym has a policy against this in the January/February timeframe – and with good reason). You can’t blame someone for simply claiming a space or machine that appears to be available.

So, do you have a “favorite” machine or spot in a class? And what do you think or how do you deal with it when someone pushes you out of “your” space?