Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Manners Monday - Gym Etiquette for Regulars & Newbies

Getting in shape consistently ranks at the top of the charts when it comes to New Years resolutions.  Come January 1, throngs of newbies bombard the regulars to test out their fitness of choice. Some prefer the trendy (Soul Cycle and Tracy Anderson), others go for the more spiritual (any form of Hot Yoga) or simply the mundane (Pilates or Bar Method).  I personally favor an old school style and just go to the gym.  I have been a member of the Sports Club LA, now known as Equinox, for at least 15 years.  In my opinion, you get much more value out of a super gym where you can virtually live there all day for the same monthly price as some wind up paying for only four classes in a boutique setting. 

Truth be told, I have to work out at least three times a week and it’s not necessarily because I enjoy it.  At just shy of 5 feet, I work out so that I can eat and the more cardio involved in the class, the better. When considering instructors, I look for the most fit (and by fit, I mean lean, not bulky) because it is much more inspiring to take a class from someone you aspire to look like than someone who looks like they enjoy downing a bucket of fried chicken after an intense workout.  I am a rare bird at the gym in the sense that I like to get in, work out, and get out as quickly as possible.  I don’t linger in the locker room or chat at the water cooler.  I do, however, appreciate that there are guidelines for appropriate gym etiquette and believe that everyone should abide by them.  

I recently had to phone the head of group classes at Equinox in Beverly Hills to complain about the incessantly childish behavior regarding saving spaces in the room. Some of the obsessive adults were acting like territorial preschoolers attempting to save coveted spots for themselves and their closest friends. Some going so far as to arrive an hour early to stake out these spaces!  It was getting out of hand and I decided to do something about it.  So for the patrons of Equinox, as well as eager gym goers everywhere, here are my top tips to incorporate into your routine from this point going forward. Happy exercising and best of luck getting in shape!!  

Wear Appropriate Workout Attire. Gym clothing that is explicit and exposes the front or the back is unacceptable.  Save your skin displays for the nightclub afterward.
Clean Up After Yourself. The number one unspoken rule at the gym is to clean up after yourself.  No one wants to touch a machine that is full of sweat left behind from your workout. Always bring a towel with you and wipe the machines down when you're finished. Most gyms offer wipes or sprays strategically located around the gym for this purpose.

Dispose of Items Properly. Return all used towels, weights, mats, and other items to their applicable bins. If it drops on the floor, pick it up.  Recycle newspapers and return magazines to their proper shelves.

Mind Your Weights. Don’t assume everyone can handle ten million pounds on the leg press machine, be mindful and take some of the weights off when you are finished.  If you are working out with free weights, especially heavy weights, never toss them back into the holding rack or dump them onto the floor.  Lay them gently into their place.

Share The Equipment. If you are doing multiple sets on a machine, it's common courtesy to let others share the equipment during your rest periods. This may not always be practical, but it is nice to offer to share whenever you can.

Keep Your Voice Down. Chatting loudly with your friend while training on the Elliptical is no less of a disturbance than talking on your cell phone while running on the treadmill. Unless it's an emergency, curb your lengthy conversations to before or after your workouts.

Don't Hog The Treadmill. Many gyms have time limits on cardio machines during busy hours. There is a reason for that, and you should obey it. Throwing your towel over the display doesn't fool anyone.

Group Exercise.  You are not in Kindergarten.  Just because you have chosen to stand in the same space for your group exercise class, it does not entitle you to claim that space as your own.  Unless the designated spot has your name on it, anyone is perfectly free to stand in your space.

Yoga. Yoga class is supposed to be calm and relaxing.  Do not push your way into the room to stake out a spot. Take a deep breath, open the door and allow someone else to enter in front of you.  If you are late, enter the room discretely and quietly obtain your mat.  You may want to do a few warm up postures to prevent injuring yourself before joining the rest of the class. 

Early Departures.  In any group exercise or yoga class, do your best not to leave before the end of the class.  It is very disruptive to your fellow exercisers and tends to start a domino effect in which everyone feels it’s okay to depart.  Leaving early not only increases your chance of injury because the cool down at the end of the class is important, but it is also disrespectful to your instructor.  If you know you have to leave early and it cannot be avoided, mention it to your instructor at the beginning of the class.

Cover It Up. Accepting your body and having the confidence to walk around the locker room naked is terrific. Knowing when to cover up with a towel to keep the locker room a comfortable place for everyone is even better. 

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