FRESNO, Calif. — Have you ever hopped on an exercise bench at the gym and had your head land in a puddle of sweat?
Fresno, Calif., bodybuilder Jim Reyes has.
Ever spent most of a workout removing weights from machines so you can put yours on? Or searched high and low for weight plates and dumbbells that weren’t where they’re supposed to be?
If you belong to a gym, chances are you answered yes to one — or all — of these questions. And that raises another question: Why can’t people at gyms mind their manners?
When you and hundreds of other people exercise in the same place, following an unwritten etiquette plan is key to making everyone’s workout rewarding.
“Think of the old golden rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you,” says Deb Whitney-Johnson, owner of Fresno’s Pro-Cor Sports and Fitness. “Show respect and consideration.”
And don’t be afraid to let staff know if someone repeatedly fails to follow gym etiquette, she adds.
That said, here are some dos and don’ts of gym etiquette provided by Whitney-Johnson; Marrissa Ramirez, a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym North in Fresno; Conny Gordeau, area general manager for two local Bally Total Fitness facilities; Marie Garringer, assistant manager at Fresno’s Centerpoint Athletic Club; and Azbai Arreguin, who works at the Central Valley YMCA in Fresno.
Be friendly, but not a social butterfly: Most people go to the gym to work out, not socialize. Keep conversations brief. Don’t disturb those who are reading, watching TV or listening to their iPod. They’re obviously not feeling chatty.
“Everyone is there for the same reason — because they care about their health,” Ramirez says. “Be courteous of someone else’s workout. If you see people you do business with, respect that they are on their workout time, and don’t talk business.”
Keep your sweat to yourself: Wipe down equipment when you’re done.
Reyes carries a towel to “wipe up my messes but not someone else’s because I also use that towel to wipe my face.”
Some gyms offer sanitizing wipes. Others, like Bally Total Fitness, ask gymgoers to bring a towel. If people don’t, they’re given paper towels and reminded to bring a towel.
Pick up after yourself, Garringer adds. Don’t leave behind food wrappers, water bottles or other trash.
Rerack your weights: When you’re done with weight plates, dumbbells or barbells, put them back in their spot.
“If you have a big, huge guy using the leg press and he puts 45-pound weights on and then you have a lady who comes up and has to remove them … that just isn’t good,” Gordeau says.
Quiet, please: Loud grunting, playing your iPod so loud others can hear the music and singing along are big no-nos.
“Keep your personal noise level down,” Whitney-Johnson says. “Screaming, grunting and yelling are not necessary to get a good workout, and it is actually offensive to most others in the gym.”
Turn off your cell phone. But if you simply can’t miss a call, take your conversation outside.
Don’t drop weights: Dumbbells bouncing on the floor and weight stacks crashing down distract others.
Also, “dropping weights is going to ruin the floor, and it ruins the equipment,” Garringer says. “We’ve had dumbbells break because they’ve been dropped too many times.”
Don’t hog the equipment: Many gyms have a 30-minute limit on cardio equipment that’s enforced only when people are waiting. If the gym isn’t busy, stay on that treadmill as long as you want. If it’s packed, respect the rules.
When working with weights, alternate sets with others who want to use the same equipment.
And don’t sit on any equipment if you’re resting. That’s just rude, Whitney-Johnson says.
Clothes call: Clothing and footwear designed for exercise are good options. Don’t forget undergarments that provide support and cover areas others don’t want to see.
Don’t wear pajamas and torn clothing. Also avoid jeans, whose rivets can harm equipment. And if you’re going to lounge in the sauna or steam rooms, bathing suits are required.