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Fitness & Exercise

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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The Yakkers continued...

Another disturbing behavior at the gym has to do with something that seems to irk people everywhere -- hearing people talk on their cell phones.

"Nobody needs to hear your conversation," says Re Perez, 31, who has not only experience as a club member, but as staff at an upscale Manhattan gym. He says it's one thing to receive quick calls to get information, but it's another matter to babble away, looking pretentious.

If you must yak, take your chatter outside the workout area. Some gyms have dedicated places for socializing, such as cafes and lobbies.

The Intruders

It also annoys Valencia when people disturb him during a set when they ask questions like if he's going to be finished with the machine soon.

In this case, Fichera says it's proper etiquette to let others use equipment while you're resting between sets. It may not be ideal, but the same courtesy could come in handy next time you're in a hurry.

If you're really in a rush and can't wait for someone to finish, Warpeha recommends looking for alternatives. "More than one machine can work out a particular muscle," he says. "If all else fails, use free weights."

Fitness centers usually have trained personnel on the floor who can guide you with appropriate exercises. For a simple question or two, there is usually no charge.

The Soakers

Some people may feel good about sweating up a storm at the gym, but remember to clean up after yourself. Warpeha says he's heard of customers catching colds and getting rashes from peers who don't bother to wipe perspiration from equipment. He's also seen people leave their stinky clothes in the locker room, thereby polluting the air.

Remember that the locker room is not your personal private space. This means other people may not appreciate it if you spread your stuff all over the benches, leave your shaven hair in the sink, put towels on the floor, and forget to flush the toilet.

Bottom line is that proper fitness etiquette may not differ so much from practicing good manners in the outside world. The only difference is that at the gym, you may be able to get away with wearing skimpy clothing without even a second glance.

Originally published April 14, 2003.

Medically updated April 25, 2006.

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