One Hour is Not Too Long to Disconnect.

Every once in a while, I’ll see something during class that makes me wonder exactly what people are thinking. Last night was one of those nights.

Let me back up a little and explain something – I never take my phone into the gym unless I absolutely have to. I spend enough of my day connected. I enjoy the two or so hours to myself, without (too many) distractions. But I realize that we live in a world where we are always “on,” so not everyone shares my need to set the phone aside during me time.

It’s not like I’ve never seen someone pull out a phone and send a text or heard a phone ring in the background of my classes. It’s at most a 30-second distraction. Do I think it’s rude? Honestly, yes. But I tolerate it.

I make a practice of not calling people out in class unless they are doing something awesome. It can be embarrassing, and really, who wants to be the one to have eyes on you because you did something wrong? Well, last night I was close. Because last night, I had a girl in my Spinning class who, in the corner of my peripheral vision, I saw texting. The ENTIRE class. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t give her any dirty looks. I kept doing my job (and pushing through without a function microphone … again).

But it made me think … do people really not realize that it’s kind of disrespectful to their instructor? Am I being a little too sensitive, or is it just rude to be so important (in your own eyes) that you can’t take one hour – ONE HOUR – of your day to disconnect, and be present and in the moment? Or at least to act like you actually want to be there?

The fact is, I spend my entire day at a job I kind of like. My classes? I love them more than anything in the world (if only it paid the bills!) – and I love the people who I see every week. Some of them have tried new classes simply to be able to take more classes with me each week (to all of you, I love you). I put my everything into my classes – heck, I taught two a couple weeks back with a pretty serious case of laryngitis (honestly, I wonder a little if I may have done some permanent damage to my vocal cords that weekend – bad, bad move) – is it so much to ask that if you are going to take the time to go to a class, you have a little respect for not only your instructor, but the people around you who came to give it their all?

Okay. Rant over. But really … am I the only one who thinks there is absolutely no reason to have your cell phone out while you’re in the gym?

Be Aware of Your Surroundings (a.k.a. SERIOUSLY???)

Since it happened several times tonight in the gym, I wanted to bring up a topic that you probably don’t really think of all that often: being aware of your surroundings. Most gyms are crowded during “prime time” (usually 4-7 p.m.) regardless of the time of year, meaning that if this is your workout time – as this is mine – you may have to do a little hunting for space. So yes, go ahead, get excited when you find a free spot. But make sure you know what’s going on around you.

I’ll admit to being somewhat tunnel-visioned as I’m tearing through the gym, trying to get my workout in. It sometimes takes everything in my power to pay enough time not to plow someone over in my quest to find the weight I’m looking for, or to climb onto a “good” (as in, under a fan) treadmill. But tonight, I felt like no matter where I went on the weight floor, I ended up with someone paying no attention, and blocking my view completely. At one point, not only did I have the guy who decided to park himself about two feet directly in front of me (and the mirror I was using to check my form), but the guy who decided to block HIM from the mirror.

Here’s the thing – I know some people are weird about the fact that gyms are typically covered in ceiling to floor mirrors. Personally, I love it. And it’s not because I’m a girl who can’t walk past a mirror to see how she looks (because, yes, I am terribly guilty of that one) – it’s because as I wrote about last week, I am a stickler for form. I like to see that my arms and legs and anything in between are where they are supposed to be. And yeah, I kinda like the look of my muscles flexing and relaxing as I lift, too. I can’t help it, I work hard!

Bottom line: while you can never completely avoid getting in someone’s way when the evening rush is well underway, do make an effort to take a look around before you park yourself in your workout space. Others will appreciate your courtesy!

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.


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!