July 8, 2010 | by Kevin M. Norris
Follow these rules of gym etiquette

For many of us, going to the gym is an escape and some wish to be left alone to go about their workout. While this is your choice, please remember there are rules of etiquette that should be followed in order for everyone to enjoy a stress-free and friendly environment.

Proper gym etiquette is akin to playing nice in the playground.

Keep with these basic guidelines and you will always remain in the good graces of your fellow gym goers. Fall out of line and you will likely get some angry stares and member frustration. Most gyms post their specific rules of etiquette. Just in case, here are some important regulations to remember in any gym.

Share and share alike. Do a few sets; sip your Starbucks coffee, read the paper, repeat. Are you serious? Allow someone to “work-in” with you on a piece of equipment. The general exception is if you are already sharing with one other person. Also, remember not to treat a piece of gym equipment as a park bench.

Take your sweat with you and pay attention to your body odor. If people are walking away from you. there is a reason. There is nothing worse than rank body odor. Toweling off the equipment is also necessary. No one likes to sit in someone else’s perspiration and someone could slip off the seat and fall on the floor. Many clubs now have disinfecting wipes for members to use located throughout the gym. Also, remember to use deodorant, but forget about the cheap overbearing French cologne.

Grunting like a wild animal should be reserved for the jungle or perhaps your bedroom. Instead, breathe – it is far more calming, effective and less of a distraction to others. Also, holding your breath can be dangerous because it puts strain on your heart.

While a gym is not a church, dropping weights is down right rude. If you have to drop a weight, the weight is too heavy and it is not a sign of your masculinity or advanced abilities. Your form will be sacrificed and may provoke serious injury. Lower the weight or use a spotter.

Avoid giving advice to others unless asked. Even if you know better, most people are not receptive to complete strangers trying to teach them something.

Keep cell phones, beepers and blow horns out of the gym. The more conscientious gyms have strict policies banning the use of cell phones on the gym floor, especially now with the onslaught of camera phones. No one wants their butt on the Internet. If a gym is clueless and allows cell phones, use them sparingly and in as private an area as possible.

Spotting is more of an art than you may think. You are always better asking someone you know or a person on the fitness staff to assist you. Asking someone who may not know what they are doing can be dangerous for both of you.

Socializing is an important part in the gym community, for some but not all and it’s not a hinting license. Many people just want to be left alone to focus and escape within their own workout. Be aware of those who wish to keep to themselves. Not everyone goes to the gym to socialize and their choice to focus on themselves does not make them anti-social.

The water fountain is not the place to spit or throw away your gum. Also, when filling up your water bottle at the water fountain, be cognizant if there is someone behind you wanting a quick drink.

Re-rack your weights. All gyms require you to put your weights back in the proper place and many actually label the space where they belong. It’s not rocket science and finding a matching dumbbell should not be a treasure hunt.

If I have missed some important rules of gym etiquette, such as walking in front of someone’s mirror space, wearing head-to-toe spandex or singing Karaoke, please e-mail them to me.

Pay attention to your surroundings and others in the gym with mutual respect and you will ensure a pleasant and stress-free atmosphere.

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