Tag: gym etiquette

Fitness Faux Pas: 5 Ways You’re Doing the Gym Wrong

6785168533_22e0a671ce_z (2)

 

Every day, I go to the gym after I see my son off to school. I’m diagnosed with ADHD and generalized anxiety/panic disorder, so after I have a green protein shake and my delicious daily Xanax, I go to the gym. This allows me to burn excess energy, get the positive endorphins flowing, and work off anxiety.

And every day, the people in my gym unknowingly cause me some of the anxiety I’m there to alleviate.

I’ve been working out at home and in gyms since I was 14, and am well-versed in proper weightlifting form. I’m one of those wacky people who’s always loved to exercise, probably because it corrects a lot of my brain chemical imbalances and raises my low self-esteem. (Let’s hear it for body image issues! Woo! No? Just me?) If I start my day with a good workout, I have a better day. It’s guaranteed. So not going to the gym isn’t an option.

Because of the aforementioned anxiety disorder, I belong to a smaller gym. I chose it because I can see the exits from everywhere in the gym, and the front is made of glass. If this sounds odd to you, familiarize yourself with the symptoms of generalized anxiety and panic disorder (similar to PTSD), and you’ll understand.

(I don’t like crowds, I need a clear escape route wherever I go, I have an overactive startle reflex, and I trust no one. Xanax literally gave me back my life; at least the life outside of my home.)

But the people. Oh, some of the people in my gym. Just… wow.

I should say that most of the people in my gym are nice, have great manners, we say hello, and they’re lovely humans. But there are a few that stress me out on a regular basis, and those are the people I’d like to discuss here.

With this in mind, I want to send out into the intellectual ether a list of annoying gym habits, so people may nod their heads in agreement with me – or will please stop doing these things if they recognize themselves.

***

 1. The Super Slammer— 

Hi, Meatbird. May I call you Meatbird? No? Okay, sorry. It’s just that you seem obsessed with amassing flesh on your upper body, while completely ignoring the lower half. Your workout regimen is giving you the appearance of a bulky, top-heavy bird, and calling you “Turkey” seemed rude. Forgive me. I’m probably just being bitchy because I’m jealous of your delicate ankles.

Anyhow… Chad. Todd. Blake. Whatever your name is. If you could stop slamming the weights down after every… single… one… of the 5 reps you’re barely able to do because you’re lifting more than you can handle, that would be great. (<— Say this in the classic “Office Space” annoying boss voice for extra points.)

Because firstly, you’re scaring the ever-loving shit out of everyone in the gym who isn’t looking in your direction when you loudly drop the weights. Yes, even the people who don’t have anxiety disorders.

And secondly, those who are knowledgeable about weightlifting realize that controlling your repetitions on the way down is just as important for muscle-building as the upward movement.

In short: You’re being such a loud jackass that I can’t even drown out your crashing noises with my headphones cranked to the max. Stop it. And learn proper weightlifting form, brah. You look like total newb.

 2. The Heartrate Hog— 

Hi, Lady at My Gym Who Wears Jeans and Does the Crossword on the Recumbent Bike for an Hour. I just wanted to let you know you’re being rude.

“Why?” you may ask. Or not. I don’t care. I’m going to tell you either way. You’re being rude because there are only 2 recumbent bikes in our smallish gym for middle-aged people like myself who trashed our knees via youthful running, and can now only do knee-friendly cardio. Since we can’t fit a swimming pool in our gym, this leaves only the bikes for bunk-kneed folks like me.

Except… when you monopolize 1 of the 2 bikes while the other is in use to pedal so slowly you’re able to legibly write words across and down. Then, this doesn’t leave any bikes at all. Just you. In your jeans and cardigan. Doing the crossword. For an hour.

It’s sometimes written via signs on gym walls, but mostly it’s an Unspoken Rule of Gym Club (it’s the second rule, actually… I’m breaking the first rule with this article) that if all versions of a cardio machine are full, polite gym members limit their cardio to 30 minutes per machine.

Did you know this? Of course you didn’t, or I’m sure you would stop your rousing hour-long game of newspaper trivia to let someone else have a chance to bike.

In short: Why you don’t spend your gym membership money on a recumbent bike for your home, and give those of us who want to break a sweat a chance to do some fucking cardio? Thanks.

3. Just the Pro-Tip, I Promise— 

Hi, Brian. I’m calling you Brian for this article, because that’s the actual name of the guy at my gym who used to give me constant pro-tips. Because of this, all pro-tippers will forever be known as Brian to me. Sorry, nice Brians of the world. It’s not your fault. Brian at my gym ruined it for you. Blame pro-tip Brian, other Brians.

Even though I don’t know Brian at all, Brian likes to walk over to me while I’m doing leg lift machine reps and give me amazing pro-tips like “twist your legs from side to side to work all the muscles.” I stupidly tried it. This resulted in my wrenched knees becoming so painful from twisting them while lifting that I couldn’t walk the next day.

Brian also gave me a pro-tip that involved my neck muscles, which are easily hurt ever since I was rear-ended by a distracted driver doing 50 MPH as I waited for a light to turn green. I told Brian this, but he assured me that no, it wouldn’t hurt my neck. That pro-tip set my fitness regimen back about a week as I waited for my strained neck muscles to heal.

Now I ignore Brian, and all the other pro-tip givers trying to “help me” (read: boost their insecure egos by condescendingly trying to teach someone who already knows how to exercise).

In short: Unless I’m paying you to be my personal trainer, get the fuck out of my face and let me work out. And save your ego issues for your therapist, unless you’re going to pay me to help you with those. Brian.

4. My Long Lost Relative— 

Hi, My Long Lost Relative! It’s great to meet you!

What do you mean, we’re not related? I don’t understand.

No, I’m not crazy, I promise. It’s just that you left so much DNA via the oily rivulets of fluid dripping down the seat and back of the weight machine you last used, that when I sat in it, I figured we became automatic Sweat Siblings.

So what you’re saying is that we’re not Sweat Siblings now? Darn.

I’m disappointed because I was hoping that you could be the younger Sweat Sibling. And then cleaning repulsive human secretions off the weight machines would be a chore our Sweat Mom would make you do. You know, since you left them there and all.

In short: You’re disgusting. See all the free paper towels and bottles of cleaner our gym has conveniently placed in all areas? Use them, you horrifying perspiration beast.

5. The Lazy Lifter—

Hi, Lazy Lifter! Yes, you. I’m talking to you.

“But I’m at the gym… how can I be lazy?” you ask?

You’re lazy because you come to the gym, in theory, to exercise, and then despite the signs asking you to rack your weights, you still leave them on the bars and machines for someone else to take off.

I notice this most often when I walk over to use the leg press machine and there are 4 heavy weights on the bar – on each side – that have been left by the last user. This makes me worry that someone is still using it, and also, that I’m going to pull that pesky weak-ass neck muscle I mentioned above as I unload the 8 large weights you left behind.

This is equivalent to getting a glass of milk and leaving the carton out for the next person to put into the refrigerator for you.

This is equivalent to taking a big dump in a toilet and leaving it for the next person to flush for you.

This is equivalent to being an inconsiderate asshole who leaves weights on the machines for the next person to take off for you.

In short: There’s no short version of this one. If you don’t know what I’m asking you to do, you’re as dumb as the weights you don’t put back where they belong.

***

This concludes my current list of top gym etiquette frustrations, with a bonus shout-out to the guy who “saves” machines by putting his gym bag on the one he’s not using at the moment, like we’re in a high school cafeteria rather than a gym.

Also: An extra-special bonus shout-out goes to the large man who was at the gym the one – and last – time I tried to go at 4 a.m. to avoid the crowds (and be guaranteed a precious recumbent bike).

When it was just you and me, alone in the gym, sir, and you growled in a disturbingly sexual way while lifting weights, and then counted your reps out loud in a raspy serial killer voice behind me, I decided I’d never go to the gym in the dark again. Thanks for the extra terror-calories I burned that day, dude. My hot bod will totally be worth the nightmares.

*Cool photo at top by SandyJo Kelly, via Flikr Creative Commons.

Advertisements

Miss Congeniality

Shortly after being deflowered by the senior on whom I’d had a crush my entire 9th grade year in a small Missouri high school, I moved to Arizona to live with my biological father for the first time since I was 7, when he and my mother divorced.

My boyfriend was going to college in Colorado, and I wasn’t getting along with my mother and stepfather, so it seemed like a fresh start might be a good thing.

The boyfriend called me on the phone and we wrote letters back and forth while I lived in Arizona, finally culminating in an invitation to spend a week with him and his family, skiing Copper Mountain. I’d never gone skiing before and had to buy the ski suit and a winter coat for the trip.

After letting me pay for my own plane ticket to Colorado, he tried to seduce me in a resort hot tub, and then later had me sit in his car so he could play a song that “explained what he was feeling.” He played The Who song with the refrain, “No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man… behind blue eyes.”

I sat in his black Honda CRX in confused silence, waiting to understand what the song meant, while he meaningfully sighed with his head in his hands. I didn’t understand that he was breaking up with me, and made him explain it. I didn’t know why he had been trying to fuck me in the hot tub if he was in love with another girl.

He finally had to spell it out, that he was the bad man, the sad man, behind his blue eyes. It was quite possibly the dorkiest way a girl has ever been dumped in the history of all dumpery, and I’ve hated that whiny song ever since. (Oh, poor you. Nobody knows what it’s like, how hard it is to be you, dumping me from behind your stupid Blue Eyes. I’m so sorry you’re sad.)

Luckily, his little sister was there, and only a grade below me in school. We immediately bonded, and she showed me pictures of the short, stocky girl with a huge gap between her front teeth for whom he was leaving me. He’d brought her picture along, and she ferreted it from his suitcase while he was out skiing. We made fun of her cheesy bikini pic.

Neither of us could make any sense of it, but I will forever love his sister for turning what should have been a nightmarish trip into an almost fun one. I was absolutely heartbroken, but she and I hung out and drank hot chocolate and boy-watched the rest of the trip. We forged a friendship far more valuable than the relationship I’d had with her brother.

I returned home to Arizona by plane, and proceeded to become clinically depressed. My usual A and B grades dropped, as I started sneaking alcohol and skipping school.

***

At some point that year, I flew home to visit my mother and stepfather in Missouri. I was allowed to go to a Shooting Star concert in Kansas City with my older sister and her boyfriend. My friend, the sister of the boy who’d dumped me at Copper Mountain was there with her boyfriend. He’d brought a friend along. A cute friend. A friend, they all told me, who had broken up with his girlfriend.

I’d known his girlfriend when I was moved to the small town in 6th grade. She did the thing where she turned bitchy and shitty to other girls (or at least to me) in the 7th and 8th grade. She was a somewhat popular, perky drill team-type, but I only remembered her as the girl who was nasty to me years before. I didn’t owe her anything.

Her ex-boyfriend was all over me, and we slept together. He was the second boy I ever slept with, and I flew back to Arizona to finish up the year.

My father later expressed his displeasure with my teenage rebellion via his fists, violently, repeatedly punching my face. A teacher reported my appearance, and Child Protective Services showed up at our house. It was determined I would move back to Missouri for my 11th grade year.

I didn’t want to go back, despite the beating that cost me my optic nerves and part of a front tooth, so my parents pretended I was coming back for a summer visit and had my biological father mail my belongings in boxes to Missouri.

I felt violated once again, knowing my father had been through my personal things to pack them, and violated by my mother and stepfather because they’d lied to me. I felt alone and completely unwanted by all of the adults in my life. “Here, you take her. We’re sick of her,” they all seemed to be saying.

***

The tiny not-quite-population-3000 town in which my Missouri high school was located had a Fall Fiesta every year, during which a Fall Fiesta Queen would be crowned.

These types of “who’s the prettiest?” contests repulse me, and I didn’t want to take part. The classes at school, however, voted to pick one girl to represent them. Guess who the 11th grade picked that year? Yep. Little old me. I was flattered, mortified, and confused, wondering if they’d picked me as some sort of elaborate prank. I’m not a tiny blonde beauty queen stereotype: I’m a tall red-haired awkward chick from way back.

I still don’t know why they picked me. I wasn’t popular. I was the class weirdo. It was probably funny to them to make me represent them in the stupid contest.

Not willing to spend money on a dress, my mom had me wear my confirmation gown- a white, high-necked, lace-infested creation that made me look like I’d just slid sidesaddle off the back of a horse in the 1800s. It was hideous and utterly wrong for a beauty pageant.

The girl whose boyfriend had broken up with her was in the contest. She was a brown-eyed, brown-haired, chipmunk-cheeked cheerleader in the right kind of shiny, slinky dress, and had found a business to sponsor her.

They’d gotten back together and she’d heard about our tryst. I’d avoided her at school, but now we were confined in close quarters, marching around like show ponies for the judges. She asked me to step outside and talk to her.

I know you slept with my boyfriend last year!” she said accusingly.

He told me you were broken up,” I replied.

No he didn’t!”

Yes, he did! And so did all of the friends we were hanging out with that night!”

Well we were together!”

Why would I know that? I didn’t even LIVE HERE. Why aren’t you mad at HIM? He’s the one who lied to everyone, apparently!”

She huffed back into the community center where we were being judged for our looks.

Of course she won Fall Fiesta Queen. Of course.

And I won Miss Congeniality. No shit.

I jokingly referred to the little silver necklace charm they gave me as my “you weren’t pretty enough to win, but gosh darn it, you’re friendly” award. It made me laugh that I so badly didn’t want to be in a gross beauty pageant, was forced to by the vote of my classmates, and then won the happy to be here award. Beautiful.

The girl ended up having a daughter with the guy I slept with during their Ross and Rachel break/not a break, and eventually separated permanently.

***

Oddly enough, I was reminded of this as I live-tweeted the bizarre moaning of a trainer lifting weights at my gym yesterday. She’s a stringy, spray-tan-orange woman over 60 (or extremely sun-damaged), and she trains other women while I ride the exercise bike. She loves neon colors, and this day was wearing shockingly hot pink shoes.

I was trying to read a novel on my Kindle Fire as I pedaled, but she was being so loud it was pulling me out of the story. We were the only two people in the small gym. I joked on Twitter that if I closed my eyes, I could pretend I was in a porn film, but I wasn’t really joking. It was making me uncomfortable.

Her first client of the day came in, a grey-haired, chatty woman, and thankfully she stopped lifting weights and groaning in her creepily sexual way.

Unfortunately, that was when the talking began. Still couldn’t focus on my book.

The women began to have a conversation about treadmills, the benefits of eating raw Manuka honey, and the client, in her southern accent, told a long story about how her brothers always beat her at Monopoly as a child, and she hated that game because they’d never let her quit, forcing her to play to the bitter end, but when she won Miss Congeniality in a beauty contest, her brothers said, “See? We were training you for your Miss Congeniality win by forcing you to stick with the Monopoly games.”

And this reminded me of winning Miss Congeniality so many years ago in the ugly white lace dress I wore for my Lutheran confirmation in the small town Missouri Fall Fiesta Queen pageant I never wanted to be in with the girl who hated me for sleeping with her boyfriend when he either lied to me, her, or both of us when they were or weren’t on a break and standing on a stage while she won prettiest and I won friendliest.

***

Someone on Twitter asked me if my winning Miss Congeniality/the odd gym interactions I was describing were “true story or Twitter fiction” so I wrote this true story out for her, because truth is almost always stranger than fiction.

And inspiration comes from the wackiest places, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

Are You That Person? 8 Common Gym Etiquette Offenders

gymer-1126999_960_720

 

Those who work out in a gym may recognize certain people who annoy others with rude or oblivious behavior. Discourteous actions can put a damper on a workout, making it a frustrating and irritating experience, rather than a positive one.

Read below about 8 common gym etiquette offenders anyone can avoid becoming with a little consideration for others.

 

1. The Slammer—

You may be startled this person’s weights crashing to the ground, or by their weight machine clanking deafeningly between repetitions.

Not only are these loud noises annoying for those near The Slammer, people with anxiety disorders such as PTSD can find them to be anxiety triggers, turning a trip to the gym from cathartic to stressful.

The Slammer is also known by anyone with knowledge of proper form as The Cheater, because not controlling weights on the way down doesn’t allow muscles to be fully used, and is lazy lifting.

 

2. The Super Soaker—

Yes, sweating at the gym is normal, but people should realize that excess sweat has to go somewhere, and unfortunately, the weight machines, bikes and benches are not made of sponge.

Most gyms have paper towels available and conveniently placed, hoping people will wipe up their own wetness. But if your gym doesn’t offer this feature, there is an amazing moisture-absorbing invention called a towel we can all use so the person after us won’t be forced to share our DNA.

 

3. The Machine Monopolizer—

Boy, you’d love to use that weight machine. And that one, too. But that person at your gym has decided to drape a towel over each one to “save” them while rotating, making it so nobody else can use the machines they’re monopolizing.

This is very rude, because by making people wait to use an empty machine, The Monopolizer is saying to everyone, “My time is more important than your time.”

Working different muscle groups is effective, but can be done without hogging machines.

 

4. The Slowpoke—

The Slowpoke is that person casually reading a book, or sitting for long stretches of time between sets on the same machine, not really working out hard enough to accomplish anything.

Usually only at the gym to placate their nagging doctor, or to feel like they’re “doing something for their health,” what The Slowpoke doesn’t realize is that if they aren’t going to actually work the muscles, they’re only wasting their time. And yours.

 

5. The Cardio Keeper—

The general rule in most gyms, whether posted or not, is that if the cardio machines are full, gym members should limit time to 30 minutes to allow other members a chance to warm up.

You’ll recognize The Cardio Keeper as that person who sees people waiting to use a cardio machine, but inconsiderately stays on for an hour.

 

6. The Weight Leaver—

The most perplexing of gym etiquette offenders, The Weight Leaver is an elusive and confusing creature.

You won’t see the weight leaver, but you will know them by their trail of weights. You know… the weights they came to the gym to lift, yet lazily left on every machine they used?

Gym etiquette experts have yet to figure out why anyone would come to a gym to use their muscles, but then be lazy about doing exactly that.

Perhaps someday the mystery of The Weight Leaver will be solved, but until then, the rest of us will have to rack the weights these slothful mammals leave behind.

 

7. The Expert—

That’s funny – you don’t recall hiring a personal trainer. Yet looming over you while you work out, giving you “pro-tips” is a complete stranger who has decided to boost their ego by telling you what you’re doing wrong.

If nobody asked, there’s a reason for that, but The Expert seems to have no clue. The best way to avoid The Expert is by ignoring them until they go away.

 

8. The Yapper—

This person has a cell phone, and they’re not afraid to use it – loudly – and usually while you’re trapped next to them, trying to get some cardio.

Try as you might to outpace their conversation, it will race along beside you, forcing you to be an unwitting participant in a complete stranger’s relationship with another human.

When faced with The Yapper, feel free to hum loudly, or even join in on the fascinating discussion about what their co-worker said today and what they’re making for dinner.

 

It really isn’t difficult to be a considerate gym member or human. By trying to avoid the behaviors above, and having respect for the people around us, we can all have a great gym workout every time.

Exercise Etiquette: Top 5 Mistakes Gym Newbies Might Make

Proper Form (2)

 

You finally joined a gym, signed on the line, and you’re officially a member of the fitness club. Good for you! You’ve probably been given a tour of the machines by an employee, and now you’re on your own. Excited. Nervous. Alone.

It’s normal at this point to feel a bit self-conscious about being the new kid in the gym, but if you know some basic mistakes to avoid, you won’t stand out. (Or at least you won’t annoy the grumpier gym veterans.)

Plus, there is certain workout protocol that everyone should know, and sometimes these flubs are exhibited by folks who should really know better.

Read below about 5 common gym beginner mistakes… and how you can avoid making them.

 

1. Cardio Coma—

You’ve probably seen them: the person who monopolizes the recumbent bike for an hour, leisurely reading a book and pedaling, or the person on the treadmill spending more energy on their fascinating cell phone conversation than the workout.

These cardio zombies might as well be napping on cots in the back of the gym, because they aren’t accomplishing anything that has to do with fitness. Worse, they’re monopolizing the equipment and wasting the time of people who came to exercise.

Proper Gym Etiquette Tip: If you’re not pushing yourself, move on and let someone else use the machine. And stick to a 30 minute limit if all cardio machines are full.

 

2. Form Malfunction—

It’s better to do 10 repetitions of an exercise the proper way than 25 the wrong way. Learn how to do all exercises correctly by asking an employee, a friend, reading the instructions on the machine, or doing prior research.

Improper form not only makes you look like a novice, it also makes you more prone to injury. Whipping through your reps and using the force of momentum and gravity rather than muscles is another quick way to look like a rookie.

Proper Gym Etiquette Tip: Don’t slam or drop the weights at the end of each rep or set. Controlling the weight on the way down is how professionals build muscles more efficiently, and nobody likes sudden clanking noises while they’re trying to concentrate.

 

3. Wrong Weight—

Women in particular often have a fear of bulking up by using too much weight when they strength train. This fear is completely unfounded, however, as most women lack the hormones and genetics for this.

For building lean muscle, it’s generally recommended to lift as much as you can still handle while maintaining proper form for 2 to 4 sets of 15 to 20 reps each. If you stop breaking a sweat, it’s time to move your weight up.

Men often do the opposite of this and try to lift more weight than they can handle without maintaining proper form, often leading to injury or loud dropping of the weights—officially making them That Annoying Guy Who’s Doing It Wrong in the gym.

Proper Gym Etiquette Tip: Speaking of weight, you may see a sign at your gym that says “Please rack all weights.” This means that if you put weights onto a machine, please take them off afterward. This bad gym habit is perplexing because it makes no sense that people who pay to exercise in a gym are then too lazy to do so.

 

4. Skipping Stretching—

It’s important to warm up by stretching and/or doing cardio before starting the strenuous part of a workout. This will limber up the muscles, preventing injury, cramping, and enhancing performance.

Doing 20-30 minutes of cardio after intense exercise such as strength training has also been shown to better eliminate lactic acid from the muscles, for a quicker recovery and less painful next day.

Proper Gym Etiquette Tip: Always wipe down machines when you’re finished to remove wetness for the next user. It’s really unpleasant to sit down into the sweat of a stranger.

 

5. Adoring Experts—

There are a lot of know-it-alls in the world who want to sell you the latest workout equipment, recovery drink, or weight loss pill, and promise they have the answers to all your fitness needs. But you will learn what works best for you through trial and error, and not through the exercise world equivalent of magic beans. Ignore them.

Proper Gym Etiquette Tip: Some of these “experts” may be walking around your gym in the form of people with “pro-tips” to help you work out better. Because they don’t know your medical history, fitness level or physical limitations, this behavior is not only egotistical, it’s completely irresponsible. Ignore them, too.

 

Remember to adjust the machines to your size, mix up your routine to work different muscle groups, and most importantly, listen to your body. If you experience sharp pain, stop immediately, and be sure to take days off to let your body rest and heal.

If you follow the 5 tips above, you’ll blend in quickly at you gym and look like you’ve been there for years.