I realized I’ve been going to the gym now for about two-thirds of my life. I started lifting weights as a freshman in high school, trying to gain weight for football. Like so many boys who get that first female compliment – “Look at your chest and arms, have you been lifting weights?” – I was hooked. I joined a local hardcore gym run by two huge Chinese brothers. Remember Shan-Yu, the ruthless leader of the Huns in Mulan? One of the brothers looked and was built just like him. There was chalk and not-so PC talk throughout the gym. I learned the basics of weightlifting from old-school bodybuilders and powerlifters. More importantly, I learned gym etiquette. As hardcore as the gym was, its members were considerate and helpful. Since the early 90’s, I’ve been a member of the big (will go unnamed) gym/fitness gym that I think just about everyone belongs to. And every now and then, I see things that would anger and bring the wrath of Shan-Yu. The next time you go in for your workout, please consider the following:
- Remove your stunna glasses: Unless those are really your prescription glasses or you’re performing at the Grammy’s after your workout, why are you wearing them in the gym? Stunna glasses as defined in the Urban Dictionary: The kind of crazy looking glasses that people wear when they go hyphy (wild). They are usually round like two circles, and very big in size. So I guess it’s OK if you plan on getting hyphy on the bench or squat rack?
- Stop amassing equipment: I understand. You’re doing compound sets, drop sets, or some other weight routine that calls for several different weights or pieces of equipment. But do you need to hoard the bench press along with dumbbells from 25 to 50 pounds (in five pound increments) along with several EZ bars? Not only are people tripping over your stockpile, there are no more weights for the rest of us.
- This is a gym, not a Vegas nightclub: Cologne. Perfume. Makeup. String tank tops. Ultra-tight MMA t-shirts. See-through clothing. Are you rocking this in the gym? It’s nice to socialize but you’re going a little overboard if you haven’t dropped a bead of sweat and you’ve spent a better part of an hour leaning on a piece of equipment (or walking on a treadmill) and talking.
- Re-rack your 1,000 pounds on the leg press: I’ve seen this several times personally. Guy loads the leg press machine with about 1,000 pounds, moves it three inches, re-racks the machine, gets up and walks away. Meanwhile, the poor lady who was waiting for the machine is looking around for help. (Actually, for her workout, she could just spend the time removing your weights.) And this goes for the bench press, squat rack, Smith machine, or any other piece of equipment where you’ve loaded your weights.
- No grunting, screaming, or moaning: Tough set, final reps, working hard. I get it. You’re going to let out some noise. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the full-on banshee-like screaming or caveman grunting through the entire set (including the five warm-up sets). Not only is your noise distracting, it’s making the rest of us laugh.
- The Group Exercise room is for everyone: It amazes me when people take over the group exercise room like it was their house. (The group exercise room is the room usually used for classes – you know, the room with all of the mirrors.) I’ve seen people take up a big chunk of the room by creating their own circuit stations, training MMA and practicing dance routines (with the music). I just want to cool down, stretch and maybe do some core work. I don’t want to watch (or hear) your hip-hop dance routine.
- There’s a line for your machine: You get to the gym early to nab your favorite piece of cardio equipment. I respect that. But after 90 minutes, maybe it’s time to move on to something else – especially when the gym is packed and people are mulling around waiting for a machine to open up. Try this. Go harder for a shorter amount of time. This type of training works well, too.
- Use your towel and flip-flops: If I’m sitting down trying to get to my locker, I would rather not have you standing (with no towel) next to me. Likewise, I don’t think the other guys in the locker room want to run into your hairy, naked body by accident. And for your own health, please put your flip-flops on. Probably the most disturbing thing to me are guys walking around without anything on their feet. Are you not concerned or sickened by the thought of walking in _____ (insert “germ,” “disease” or “bodily fluid” here)?