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Mind Your Manners -- in the Gym

Annoying socializers, grunters, and excessive sweaters can bum out your workout. Following gym etiquette not only is polite, it's safe -- for you and your fellow gym-goers.
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WebMD Feature

We all have different reasons for working out, whether it's to lose weight, to obtain rock-hard abs, or to stay healthy. Whatever the motivation, for some of us, getting to the gym is an achievement unto itself. So when people there are rude, gross, or downright annoying, it can be frustrating because they can distract us from our fitness goals, or worse, can hurt us. Or sometimes, we might not know it, but we may be the offending club member.

Salvatore Fichera, an exercise physiologist in New York, and Joe Warpeha, Duluth, Minnesota-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, have seen their share of careless and inconsiderate acts resulting in injury.

For example, customers who fail to wipe sweat from exercise equipment have reportedly been known to pass on communicable diseases such as rashes to other people. Cell-phone yakkers or excessively loud grunters have caused serious trainers to lose concentration and strain muscles. Weightlifters who neglect to secure barbells properly have had loose plates drop and crush toes -- theirs and others'.

These mishaps are easily avoidable. With good manners and common sense, gym-going can become a pleasant, safe, and healthy experience for everyone.

The Lazy ... and Dangerous

One of the most common gaffes people make at the gym is failing to put equipment back in its proper place.

"Some people just leave dumbbells on the floor, which is totally dumb," Fichera says. "It is inconvenient for someone who may need that particular weight afterwards, and it could hurt other members who, while looking at themselves in the mirror, back up and don't see it on the floor."

The rule also applies to clients using free weights. Besides leaving them on the floor, some lifters apparently don't return them to their proper number slots (i.e., the 10-pound weight in the "10" spot, the 20-pounder in the "20" spot, etc.) Some people carry weights to different parts of the gym and leave them there. This obviously inconveniences others who may have to do some searching to complete their exercise.

It is also important to secure the collars on barbells. Loose plates can slide off, bounce on the ground, and hurt someone. Such common-sense rules fall under the heading of "Use equipment properly" and "Follow instructions," which should be a no-brainer, but some people still surprisingly act foolish.

The Grunters

Then there are people who scream or grunt loudly during their set. Some even drop their weights on the ground, making a big thump. These noisemakers peeve David Reyes, 33, who takes his workout routine seriously.

"Let's say that I'm bench-pressing," says Reyes. "I'm doing a heavy set and am focused on lifting with the proper form, and on my way up [with the barbell], I hear "BOOM! BOOM!"... There goes my concentration, and without it, I could end up with 300 pounds on my neck."

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