SHH… The Entire Gym Does Not Need to Know Your Life Story (a.k.a. Keep Your Voice Down!)

I know I’ve addressed this topic in the past, but I was reminded of why it’s so important yet again tonight. Let’s talk about noise in the gym. Now, I’m not talking about breathing hard or grunting (unless you’re super loud about it, then I just don’t understand) – I’m talking about those people who find it necessary to make sure the entire gym can hear their conversations. Sometimes even – cringe – their phone conversations.

I’m  not even going to touch the phone part, because, quite honestly, if you are able to talk on the phone while you’re working out, clearly you aren’t working hard enough. I don’t even take my phone into the gym (a girl has to get away from technology for at least a couple hours a day).

That said: the entire gym does not have to hear your entire conversation. There are a couple habitual offenders in my gym, and lucky me always seems to end up nearby them (one used to be a trainer and now has – seriously – muttonchops, and the other is about the same height as me … and I’m fairly confident weighs less). Is there really reason for you to be so loud? Do you think that I need to hear your life story? Or are you just too rude to realize that those around you find you irritating?

The truth is, the gym is my happy place. My safe haven. My escape from the noise and stress of my everyday life. The one place I truly feel like my best self. Relaxed. At peace.

So when you’re yelling about your troubles? Yeah, that takes away my concentration. It takes away my peace. And more often than not, it takes away the weights that I’m looking to use (because you’re talking instead of lifting).

Moral of the story?  Common courtesy goes a long way. Be polite – and keep your voice down! Being social is one thing … being annoying is quite another.


Let’s Talk About Cleaning Up After Ourselves…

If there is one thing that makes me crazy in the gym, it’s people who do not put their weights back where they belong when they are done using them. But that’s not what this post is about.

I want to talk about using good judgement when you are cleaning up after yourself. Namely, being aware of the people around you and thinking about the impact of your actions on the people around you.

So, this morning, I went into the gym, ran about 6.5 miles (this was actually about twice as much as I thought I’d start with … but I felt really good this morning, so I just went with it), then made my way back downstairs for a little bit of light leg and shoulder work. One of the last exercises that I chose to do – mostly because I know I don’t do it enough – was the leg press. So I loaded up about 250 lbs., settled myself in, and got working on a three-exercise circuit (wide legs for 15, feet together for 20, then a little calf raise for another 20). About halway through, the couple on the machine next to me finished up with their exercises. Surprisingly, they started unloading the machine before they went on to their next exercise (let’s be honest … if there is one machine that people never unload the weights from, it is a leg press).

Which is where the little pet peeve of mine reared its ugly head.

One thing that I’ve always been really careful about is only returning plates to either the free-standing racks, or, if there isn’t one nearby, onto a machine that is not currently in use. Which of these did this couple decide to do? Neither. They decided to put them on racks on the machine that I was using.

Now, keep in mind that my gym is huge – and they take advantage of as much of the space as they can. Meaning that there are plenty of other machines with open racks on which to return plates. At about 10 a.m. on a Saturday, maybe 15% of the machines in that general area were actually in use (yes, this is why I LOVE a gym on an early-ish Saturday morning). So I fail to understand why my machine, albeit the closest to the one they were using, was the one they chose.

Here’s the thing … it wouldn’t bother me so much had the machine not started SHAKING as I was mid-press. It’s unsafe. How do they know that something couldn’t happen as a result of the shaking to send the 250 lbs. atop the machine down onto my significantly less heavy body? I could have been crushed. Luckily, I wasn’t, but still … I couldn’t shake the thought that the shaking machine would bring me to my untimely death (okay, that’s a little dramatic).

Bottom line: be aware of the people around you when you are cleaning up after yourself. You never know when your actions could lead to another person’s injury. And as always, put your weights back where they belong! Trust me, taking two seconds to keep your gym clean makes a  world of difference to everyone.

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?

The 8 Most Annoying People at the Gym

Yup, we’ve all come across them … The 8 Most Annoying People at the Gym – Fitness Center – Everyday Health. To my list of “most annoying people at the gym,” I’ll add the escalator stander. That’s a minute of my life I’m not getting back. It’s a gym, people, it won’t kill you to keep moving!

Which of these “most annoying” people do you find the most annoying at your gym?

Lots of Obstacles to Overcome Today, But …

Something good eventually did come of it.

I start thinking about my post-work workouts around lunch each day. I’m not shy about admitting that my gym time is the highlight of the day – so when the little things I take for granted started stacking up against me this evening, I was a little worried that it was going to take a toll on today’s scheduled run.

Traffic was a little heavier than usual this evening, but being as it has been raining for most of the last two days, that really should not come as a surprise (what is it with Virginia drivers and rain? I swear, growing up in Ohio, people were less cautious driving in a snowstorm than they are here in drizzle). I finally make it to the gym, and the parking garage entrance I chose to go to today is blocked  (luckily there are three entrances, but still, roadblock #2). So, several minutes later than expected later – no towels at the front desk. Then the only treadmill open is the slow one. I think, screw it, I’ll just hope that the 8 mph the treadmill claims to be running at – and definitely is not – is at least close to the pace I’d hoped to run today. But enough complaining.

About five minutes later, I got my break – one of the other “good” treadmills opens up. And that’s where my luck, at least temporarily, changes. Even towel-less (trust me, I would have killed for a towel by about mile 3), it ended up being a great run. Speed-wise, my best in quite a while. Maybe ever. The girl on my left kept me trucking, because I just happened to peek over and see that she was about 10 minutes ahead of me – and I wasn’t going to stop running until she was done (she did 5 miles. So I decided today would be a 5 miler … plus another 4 quarter miles with some speed work to finish). Then there was the girl on my right – she was doing some pretty bad-ass intervals – we’re talking 12 mph sprints – and we all know that I can’t be out-hardcored (pretty sure I just made up that word …)

So run I did, going with my typical can’t stay at the same speed for more than a minute at a time pace. I started getting a little curious once I was about 35 minutes in, because it like I was slightly ahead of my typical just shy of 9 minute mile pace. Verdict: 5 miles, 44:25. Yup, that’s an 8:55 mile. Which meant I’d managed to strip another 2 seconds off my most recent best pace. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that much – but those two seconds are points of pride for me. Made me forget about the traffic, and the nightmare that is the parking garage, and the slow start on the screwed up treadmill … and I would say the lack of towel, but my sweat-soaked limbs and knotted-mess ponytail (courtesy of not being able to wipe the sweat off of my neck and shoulders – I’m starting to wonder if the highlights, hair dryer and flat iron are totally to blame for my damaged ends … cause I’m thinking the sweat-soaked tangles that tend to form in the bottom two or three inches of my ponytail probably play a part, too. But no, I won’t cut my hair. But I digress).

Unfortunately, the excitement from a quality run wore off when I stepped off the treadmill, and promptly got stuck behind a “stander” on the escalator (they’ve surpassed cell phone talkers as my #1 gym pet peeve) – and some jerk standing behind me had the audacity to ask me if I “had to pee or something” because I was anxiously shifting my weight from foot to foot hoping the guy would get the hint and start walking. And still no towels.

But it’s all good. I think I’ll take several obstacles for an awesome run. After all, a good run tends to heal all my woes … and a great run will always make it a good day!

You May Go to the Gym, But Laziness Will Not Improve Your Fitness

After yet again getting stuck behind a “stander” on the escalator in my gym (yes, escalator. In my gym.) last night, I found myself thinking … I wonder if people realize that some of the things they do in a … Continue reading

Mind Your Manners – A Note on Gym Etiquette

As a frequent gym-goer throughout the last decade(ish), I’ve seen some crazy things. The older man sporting 70s style shorts (are they ever…), socks (knee-length) and sweatband (do they even still sell those?). The woman in full-face paint (To work out? Really?). The scrawny teenager determined to lift his body weight (give it a couple years, it’ll save you a hernia).

Truthfully, the characters don’t bother me. They may make me giggle, but as long as they’re going about their workouts in a safe manner, respectful of those around them, I don’t care what they wear, or how they look.

There are a few rules, however, that I believe should be followed by everyone – novice or bodybuilding champ. It’s a matter of common courtesy, and in some cases, even safety. So here they are, my gym commandments (or rules to lift by):

  • Don’t waste your time – or mine. Many of us do not view our workouts as social hour, but as our opportunity to relax or de-stress, start/end our day, or to do something good for ourselves. If you aren’t actively using a machine, weight, or the space you are occupying, share. You’ll burn a lot more calories actually doing something – and your fellow gym-goers will be able to do what they came to do, too.
  • Watch your volume. This usually applies to the heavy-lifting, cut-up tank top wearing type, but it could be anyone. I still have nightmares thinking about a little old lady who worked out in my college gym (she sounded like she enjoyed working out just a little too much…) Please don’t yell. Please don’t curse. Please don’t drop your 100 lb. dumbbells. The people around you will appreciate it. And please, please, please … LEAVE THE CELL PHONE AT HOME.
  • Clean your machines! My gym has sanitizer and paper towels all over the place, and for the most part, people are really good about them. Gyms can be a hotbed for germs. You don’t want to pick up what someone else left behind, do you? They don’t want your germs, either. This especially applies if you sweat all over something (thank goodness for towel service!) – trust me, I have enough of my own sweat, I don’t need yours, too.
  • Nobody should smell you coming – be it good or bad. Perfume has a place. It is not in the gym. Many people – myself included – are sensitive, and maybe even allergic, to strong scents (it only takes a few minutes for me to develop a migraine). And please, invest in a good deodorant/anti-perspirant. You may be working hard, but everyone around you doesn’t want to smell just how hard (deodorant is not expensive!)
  • Be polite! I’m as guilty as the next person of zoning out, and I’ve been almost run down a time or two. But a simple “excuse me” or “sorry” does go a long way. You wouldn’t bump into someone at work and say nothing, would you? Same rules apply.

So, there they are. Nothing too crazy, just common sense and courtesy. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and polite workout!